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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017

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Barry Wood, 78, formerly of Ukiah, passed away peacefully September 12, 2017, in Cocoa Beach, Florida. His family and friends held a memorial service there on September 23.

Wood was Ukiah’s mayor in the mid-1970s and served as a Ukiah city councilman from 1974 to 1978.

He was a graduate of the University of Michigan and of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. He practiced law in Ukiah from 1967 until 2000, first for the Legal Services Foundation, then for six years in private practice with Jim Luther, then as head of the Mendocino County Family Support Unit under District Attorney Joe Allen, and then in solo private practice for about 20 years until he retired and moved back to Pennsylvania where he had grown up. Later, he moved to Mount Dora, Florida, and recently to Cocoa Beach.

He is survived by his wife Barbara of Cocoa Beach, his sons Christopher (Michelle) of Leesburg, Florida, and Dathan (Melissa) of Santa Rosa, and four granddaughters. His first wife Carole predeceased him.

“Barry was my friend,” said Luther, his ex-law partner. “He was savvy, practical, capable, funny, and good to work with. We had a wonderful time practicing law together in the early 1970s with terrific staff, interesting clients, plenty of exciting cases, lots of seriousness and lots of fun. We were young, raising our young families in Ukiah, starting to get to know how to be good country lawyers. I cherish that time.”

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The recent devastation caused by the Mendocino Lake Complex Fire has resulted in significant loss for Mendocino County residents. The County is assisting residents in the recovery efforts by offering the opportunity to have the toxic waste which was created by the fire safely removed from affected properties. The County is coordinating this program with CalOES, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to provide direct assistance to property owners with the cleanup of fire debris.

Beginning October 24, 2017, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and Mendocino County’s Environmental Health Services will be entering properties in the fire area to perform a limited inspection and removal of household hazardous waste. Once that is complete, there will be a short window in which property owners may choose to participate in a program to have burned structures removed by government contractors. In order to participate in the free program, property owners must complete a Right-of-Entry Agreement (ROE). The ROE form has been mailed out to affected property owners, with a return envelope included. In addition, forms will be available at the Local Assistance Center, Planning and Building Services and online at The forms can be mailed or returned in person to Planning and Building Services, 860 N Bush Street in Ukiah. The County encourages property owners to return the ROE this week to be included in the first round of cleanup.

If property owners choose to participate in this program, the fire debris will be removed from the property and the site will be cleaned to meet California’s environmental standards. The cleanup offered through this program is provided at no cost to the property owner. Property owners with fire insurance will need to provide insurance coverage information on the ROE form. Any insurance proceeds designated by their policy for debris cleanup must be contributed to the program. If property owners do not have fire insurance or if their policy does not have an item for debris cleanup, they are still eligible to participate in this program.

For more information please contact, Planning and Building Services at (707) 234-6650.

Debris Removal FAQ - Mendocino

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MENDO’S MAIN BUILDING TRADES REP, Lee Howard of Redwood Valley, made some good points at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors discussion of the County’s Fire Recovery efforts. In general, the Supervisors and the recovery officials agreed with Howard, and in some cases had already taken steps along these lines. But Howard’s remarks make it clear that recovery is probably going to be longer, harder and more expensive than anyone may now think.

Howard: Hazardous waste, true hazardous waste, is really well-defined. What we are dealing with here is probably regulated waste. If we were dealing with "hazardous waste" we would have people out there totally encapsulated and the whole nine yards. The requirements of how you get rid of hazardous waste are very stiff. You have to be trained beyond belief. It could be hazardous but for the regulated waste it's a lot less, 40 hours, with 10 hours for a refresher course. When they start to testing out there at the site, where they test and how they test, it will probably be — I will make a prediction that at least 90% of it will end up as regulated waste material that has to be moved to a Class 1 site. We don't have one of those sites here in this County. Nobody has been able to identify one. We have no inkling of where the stuff is going right now. So as we get into this, make sure you ask the questions, it's easy for the Army Corps of Engineers [which is apparently going to perform the actual waste removal] or Cal-EPA to walk in here and declare it all to be hazardous waste and that's it. But it isn't that simple. And your health department right here and a few other people can’t show me where it's at. You can't get just hire an employee to go out and take care of this waste in any way shape or form. You need a lot of documentation including background on the health of your employee and a whole list of things. I just want to say that right now. You can’t get into it until there’s a full discussion.

Supervisor John McCowen agreed: Who can remove it? Where will it go? What can be done in the short term to stabilize it? Pending the Army Corps coming in and doing the actual cleanup. The Department of Toxic Substance Control is on the ground now getting the obvious hazardous waste items. What level of testing is required before removal can be done? Who will do the testing? Those are the kinds of questions that the rest of us have been asking for some clarity on.

Howard: I hear some things and I really get concerned. I’ve done septic tanks for almost a 40 years in this county. I've done a lot of fire things too. I have yet to see a septic tank destroyed by fire. … I saw more damage to septic tank systems in Lake County with the cleanup people moving through and destroying it with their loaders or a skid steers breaking into the top of the tank. I've seen septic tanks destroyed by Calfire when Calfire is a walking through the fire trying to put it out. I dropped a CDF cat into a septic tank once. You don't know it's there. You destroy it. Septic tanks are a huge expense especially now with the new regulations. We want to do everything we can to try to save whatever we can out there. It goes without saying that there will be a work plan that will come out from the Army Corps. All the rest of the stuff will be addressed hopefully. But it's where and when it gets addressed that we need the public get to hear and see about. The concern for the material that will flow into Tomki Creek -- I have a lot more trouble with Tomki Creek than I do Brush Creek. Because there's a lot more material out there to flow down into the creek. You go up to the burned area and you looked down and there is the creek. Before the Corps can move in there and start they will have to address that problem in their work plan on how they're going to get in and do that. If we have two weeks, four weeks, before we get two inches of rain we will be lucky. Maybe we will have a real dry fall and early winter. Fish will be the first to notice it in Tomki Creek. I hope that somebody is addressing that in and of itself because that is a major project to go out and stabilize all that area to make sure that we reduce whatever is going to flow into the creek. The number of people it will take to do that is unbelievable. You're talking five miles straight and by the time you walk around and put wattles in and so forth you're probably talking about ten miles. I hope the water people and the fishery people are saying that this is a big big part of the initial problem now, not the cleanup. I wouldn't be a bit surprised when it starts raining how many of the Corps people end up in Mendocino County when we really start to get the rain. We are in the end of October and it's not far down the road. I have not been able to hear that discussion except for the limited discussion today.

McCowen: If it doesn't happen in the next 2-4 weeks we will have another environmental disaster in our hands. And in the steep terrain it will go straight into the creek. Top priority has to be stabilizing that material. They will need to be doing some of the stabilization stuff even if the cleanup is all accomplished in order to just minimize the normal erosion that's going to occur without the ash.

Howard: If you look at some of the construction sites around here and you look at the wattles on them and rock beds going in and out. Somebody said we should just move in there and do Tomki Creek. I said, Do it with what? You realize some guys can't even get past the old ford? A hundred trucks a day? 200 trucks a day? Tomki Creek? It will be very interesting to see how they will plan to address that. It's not like being able to drive around the block in Santa Rosa and load it all from two or three sites.

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FEMA Emergency Lodging Assistance Program for Hotel/Lodging Establishments

Due to the large number of displaced residents in our community as a result of the Redwood Complex Fire, the County of Mendocino urges local hotels and lodging providers to enroll in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Lodging Assistance (ELA) Program to provide temporary accommodation to fire victims. The program is managed and funded by FEMA and covers lodging (room charges and applicable taxes only) for FEMA qualified individuals from designated disaster areas.

Initial periods of housing assistance for qualified individuals will be from 5-14 days, adjustable to 30 days as needed. FEMA, in conjunction with the State, territorial or tribal government, may extend this period of assistance, if needed, in 14-day intervals for up to six months from the date of the disaster declaration.

Hotels and lodging providers wishing to participate in the Emergency Lodging Assistance Program can enroll via the Program website through FEMA’s program partner, Corporate Lodging Consultants (CLC) at Upon successful enrollment, hotels can immediately bill for qualified guest stays. Properties are not required to have an existing contract with CLC for business travel in order to participate.

For businesses seeking further information regarding participation, qualified reservations and check-ins, billing and future account creation, please refer to CLC’s Frequently Asked Questions page at, the hotel support line at 1-866-545-9865 or via email at

For individuals who need more information about FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance Program, please go to .

(County Press Release)

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by Jim Shields

The legalization of ganja is the most significant legislation and public policy created in the past 40 years. It rivals the impact of the voter-enacted Prop 13, which revolutionized (in more ways than one) property taxes in this state.

As I’ve said many times before, no one lives in this county who is not affected economically by marijuana. And that’s true for both the private and public sectors of the economy.

It’s now apparent the state should have retained sole control of the marijuana legalization process. With counties and cities creating stand-alone ordinances, there is no uniformity or consistency to a statewide law that legalizes marijuana. Can you imagine the disorder and bedlam in this state if the highly regulated alcohol industry were instead subject to local control by counties and cities each with its own separate and uniquely distinct sets of regulations?

Counties and cities just don’t have the appropriate resources, funding or “can do” to administer and enforce their cannabis ordinances.

I’ve been warning cannabis farmers, who aren’t happy with Mendocino County pot rules, not to forget that the state is still in the process of rolling out its regulatory framework. They are going to be in for a surprise when the whole package is finalized shortly.

This may be an example of one case where local control is not the best answer.

For example, my boss at the Laytonville County Water District is the State Water Resource Control Board (State Water Board). On Oct. 17, the State Water Board adopted a new statewide policy establishing strict environmental standards for cannabis cultivation in order to protect water flows and water quality in California’s rivers and streams. The new regulations and programs address the not-so-friendly watershed practices of too many cultivators.

Underpinning the Water Board’s regulatory framework is the realization that commercial cannabis cultivation is expected to grow significantly and spread to new areas of the state following adult use legalization.

“We are establishing the environmental protection rules of the road needed to deal with the expected expansion of cannabis cultivation statewide,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Our action creates a strict set of rules cannabis cultivators will need to follow in order to protect water quality and quantity. We will work closely with other state agencies to make sure cultivators are aware of these rules and are following them.”

The cornerstones of the regulatory package and the rationale buttressing it are:

  • If left unregulated, cannabis cultivation could pose serious threats to water quality and fish and wildlife by diverting water or releasing fertilizers, pesticides, and sediments into waterways.
  • The new Cannabis Cultivation Policy establishes statewide requirements that will be implemented through a water quality permit known as the Cannabis General Order and as conditions for cannabis-related water rights referred to as Cannabis Small Irrigation Use Registrations.
  • The policy protects California’s waters from cannabis-related waste discharges, establishes protections for riparian areas and wetlands, and protects stream flows.
  • The policy was adopted following a public review process that included three workshops earlier this year to solicit comments and feedback. The draft policy was released in early July, building on existing regulations developed by the North Coast and Central Valley regional water quality control boards. The new statewide policy replaces those regional regulations.
  • The policy was also developed in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and will be incorporated into all commercial cannabis licenses issued by CDFA under its CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Program.
  • The State Water Board will continue its enforcement efforts, closely monitoring compliance with the new statewide policy and taking appropriate enforcement action when needed.
  • The policy takes effect upon approval by the Office of Administrative Law, expected sometime late in 2017.

This is a tough, no-nonsense approach to regulating and enforcing a law that was premised on statewide public demand to protect fragile public resources that all too often were savaged and ravaged by cannabis cultivators. A quick look at the legislative history of the 2015 marijuana legalization law in this state finds this statement in the Legislative Analyst Office’s summary of the law:

“Purpose. According to the author, medical marijuana growers operate in a gray area between conflicting state and federal law, which has precluded the establishment of regulations to protect vulnerable watersheds and prevent other environmental damage. This bill is intended to establish basic regulations for the cultivation of medical marijuana, including a program to track medical marijuana plants. The author believes tracking plants will allow state and local law enforcement to quickly identify legal and illegal plants, and the regulatory structure will help prevent environmental damage, particularly to the North Coast … illicit and unregulated marijuana cultivation has led to uncontrolled use of pesticides, logging, illegal waterway diversions, habitat destruction, and toxic waste discharges in Northern California.”

Clearly it was the intent of legislators, to the point of specifically referencing North Coast “environmental damage,” that the state would be paying close attention to all natural resource issues. This is a fact lost on far too many in the emerging marijuana industry, as well as local officials who are implementing cannabis ordinances in numerous counties.

In sharp contrast to Mendocino County and other local governments throughout the state, it is encouraging that the State Water Board is taking its job seriously when it comes to strict enforcement of its regulations.

The Board also relied on numerous reports and studies regarding the impacts of cultivation on watersheds. Here’s a staff report discussing watersheds in Mendocino and Humboldt counties:

“Cannabis cultivation has been increasing in recent years, and the expansion is accelerating with the passage of MCRSA and AUMA legislation. A recent CDFW study (2015), using aerial surveys of four small watersheds in Humboldt and Mendocino counties found that the number of acres in cannabis cultivation doubled from 2009 to 2012, with an estimated 500 individual operations and approximately 30,000 plants in each of these small watersheds. The study concluded that water demand for cannabis cultivation has the potential to divert substantial portions of streamflow in the studied watersheds, with an estimated flow reduction of up to 23 percent of the annual seven-day low flow in the least impacted of the studied watersheds. Estimates from the other study watersheds indicate that water demand for cannabis cultivation exceeds the streamflow during the low-flow period. In the most impacted watersheds, diminished streamflow is likely to: have lethal or sub-lethal effects on state- and federally-listed salmon and steelhead trout; and cause further decline of sensitive amphibian species. The 2015 CDFW study concluded that cannabis cultivation on private land has grown so much in the North Coast region that Coho salmon, a federal and state listed endangered species, may go extinct in the near future if the impacts of cannabis cultivation are not addressed immediately. Rare (listed) and sensitive species affected by water diversion for cannabis cultivation in the North Coast region include: Coho salmon; Chinook salmon; steelhead trout; coastal cutthroat trout; southern torrent salamander; red legged frog; northern spotted owl; and Pacific fisher. Other species throughout the state such as deer, bear, and various birds are also being harmed by cannabis cultivation-related impacts to streams.”

The new regulations address cannabis cultivation practices that need certain measures to protect water quality such as:

  • Streams and wetland management
  • Water diversion, storage, and use
  • Irrigation runoff
  • Land development and maintenance
  • Land erosion control, and drainage features
  • Soil disturbance
  • Stream crossing installation and maintenance
  • Fertilizer, chemical, and soil use and storage
  • Cultivation-related waste disposal
  • Refuse and human waste disposal
  • Winterization (preparing post-harvest lands for adverse winter weather conditions)

The regulations also address water diversion and use to ensure cannabis cultivation does not affect water flows needed for fish, and maintains and protects aquatic habitat and resources:

The rules set statewide flow requirements that may be modified as needed over time as more information becomes available on cannabis cultivation water demand.

  • No diversion periods during dry season (May through October)
  • Maximum allowable diversion rates
  • Minimum amount of water that must be left in the stream
  • Groundwater pumping restrictions, if necessary to protect surface flows
  • Water conservation irrigation methods

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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MEASURE B. Attorney to the stars of Northcoast destruction, and go-to guy for big shot Republicans, Jared Carter, argues that a county psych center is not fiscally sustainable, that only the state or federal governments are capable of doing it right. Maybe, but they've abdicated, Jared, and you would argue against a teensy bump in the sales tax even if the state or the feds did suddenly declare that they wanted to re-build the state hospital systems we used to have before America veered permanently off the tracks.

WHEN I WAS A KID — Wait! Don't run! I'll be brief! — Anyway, when I was a kid, the free range nuts, drug addicts, drunks, and mental defectives you see wandering around every town and city in the country today, were confined to state-run hospitals until they could regain possession of themselves. Americans, except for the Carter types, recognized it was not only the decent thing to do for persons unwilling or unable to care for themselves, confinement was good for public morale. Fast forward to 2017 and, well, the homeless are funding units for a large apparatus of college graduates who resist any interference with things as they are. (I should add that lots of families used to keep their troubled but manageable relatives at home, hence the old expression "idiot in the attic.")

THE MIGHTY AVA is for an in-County mental health facility because we think it pencils out, not because we have faith in contemporary mental health strategies, most of which consist solely of zombo-izing troubled people with psychotropic drugs. The expensive out-of-county facilities Mendo's more intractable mental cases are dispatched to now can be treated here at home if B passes, thus funding much of our very own mental health management. Outside agencies will be sending us patients, one can expect, because we will be less expensive than the quack, cash and carry facilities NorCal is presently dependent on.

ATTORNEY CARTER also seems contemptuous that little Mendo would even attempt to do mental health in a way no other county in the country would be doing it. We think the unprecedentedness of Measure B is another argument for it, not a reason for laughing at it.

PERSONAL NOTE RE CARTER: I get a kick out of the old coot. To hear him on Measure B you'd think a tiny bump in the sales tax would throw him and Bonnie out on State Street, pushing their Reagan memorabilia around in a shopping cart.

AT THE RAUCOUS Supe's meetings of the Redwood Summer period, Carter, of course representing the cut and run boys of Atlanta as they mowed down the economic base of the Northcoast, would cast a contemptuous, no look gesture behind him at the enviro protesters in the audience and declare, with deep disdain, "Now these people…" These deadbeat communist dopeheads, or whatever the hell they are...

IN FACT, the outside timber corporations had hired the big public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton, to vilify timber protesters as hippie unemployables bent on taking jobs from honest working people. H&K's yellow ribbon campaign managed to convince loggers that L-P and G-P were on their side, but by 1990 the timber corporations had pretty much completed their mop-up of what had been a solid timber economy, trading that economy for short-term profit-taking.

CARTER threatened to sue me a couple of times, one time batting out a demand-for-retraction letter on behalf of then-Supervisor Marilyn Butcher. Butcher, presently enjoying a hippie-free eternity, was a great one for getting up at public meetings to denounce "hippies" as drug-soused parasites who were destroying Mendocino County. Our brilliant cartoonist at the time, Mary Miles, now an attorney herself, depicted one of Butcher's Amazonian daughters assaulting a cop, the other Amazon denouncing Supervisor deVall at a public meeting as "a fucking asshole," drawing Mr. Butcher passed out drunk in his carport, and finally drawing Supervisor Butcher herself on top of her car waving a whiskey bottle as she slurred denunciations of drugs. Since each depiction was grounded in verifiable fact, we all got a good laugh at Carter's woof-woof and tossed it into the folder with all the other jive-o lawyer letters.

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Joe Wagner Writes: This Wednesday the 25th I believe I will have Rex Gressett on my KNYO show... Not sure what kind of content we will cover nor any theme on the front end but he says he has things to say... I’ve been helping him with ideas like "three minute limit" or "Rex'n effect" and other fun show titles and he has an underwriter lined up. Heck maybe I’ll even connect my phone patches and field some calls! So this Wednesday the 25th on 107.7 knyolp streaming live at from 5 to 6pm!

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WHERE’S COASTAL VALLEY EMS? In all the hoopla and dedication of the many county employees and volunteers responding to the Redwood/Potter Fire Emergency we’re apparently not the only ones wondering where the County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency has been. Mendocino County contracts with the Sonoma County office to handle and manage emergency services (typically ambulance service). And clearly there were special challenges for all emergency responders during the fires. But we can’t find anything CVEMS contributed. What, if anything, should they contribute? Several local fire officials are mulling the question and are talking about asking Official Mendo to spell out in writing exactly what we’re supposed to be getting for the nice nickel we pay them.

A RELATED CONCERN of local fire officials is, “Who do we talk to?” On paper, Health and Human Services Agency head Tammy Moss-Chandler is the official responsible for the Coastal Valley contract, but there’s no real oversight and Ms. Moss-Chandler has no background in emergency services. A whole host of issues very important to Mendo’s approximately two dozen fire departments are very hard to raise because there’s essentially no one to raise them with or to. The Board of Supervisors is usually the court of last resort as demonstrated most recently when they voted 3-2 to hold off putting CalFire Dispatch out to bid. No one had done any background work on the dispatch situation, no one had prepared a study, a few people remembered vague unspecified complaints from several years ago which no one knew if they’d been addressed. Coastal Valley simply presented to Dispatch RFP to the Supervisors to sign sight unseen, no analysis.

LATELY there’s some talk about how the Proposition 172 public safety sales tax revenues are going to be distributed to local fire departments this fiscal year (the County already has the money and could easily use the allocation from last year, but hiccups have developed — reportedly hiccupped up by Supervisor McCowen who wants to revisit the allocation method.) In the wake of the recent fires, the importance of adequately funded local Fire Departments has become even more obvious, yet the Fire Officials are still having trouble even figuring out who on the County staff to talk to, much less having an advocate for this essential and very cost effective service. (Compared, say to Mental Health, Tourism Promotion, First Five, et al — all giant wastes of money.)

BESIDES THE PROP 172 SALES TAXES that ought to be used to help underfunded local fire departments, a big chunk of the Bed Tax ought to be allocated to them as well. Instead of giving the tourism promotion people an unquestioned blank check every year, the Board of Supervisors should create a reliable source of supplementary funding that local fire departments can depend on and budget with consistently. If it’s good enough for the tourism promoters (who simply claim — evidence to the contrary — that they do some good), isn’t it past time to set up a reliable funding mechanism for fire departments? The inland fire departments contributed a lot more to the recent fire response than the tourism people or Coastal Valley EMS, and the County is responsible for all of Mendo’s remote regions not covered by a fire district, yet every year it’s like pulling teeth for these essential services to get their fair share. They can’t even figure out who to complain to!

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by Sarah Ravani

One of the two people fatally gunned down in rampage Monday in the Lake County town of Clearlake Oaks was the 85-year-old father of the gunman, who also shot and wounded a woman and a California Highway Patrol officer, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators have yet to determined why 61-year-old Alan Ashmore went on the deadly shooting spree, but said it started just after 11 a.m. at the home of his father, Douglas Ashmore.


Alan Ashmore fatally shot his dad with a semiautomatic handgun outside the elderly man’s home in the 13000 block of Anchor Village in the Clear Lake Keys area of Clearlake Oaks, said Lt. Norm Taylor of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect also shot a 22-year-old Middletown woman in the foot during an argument inside the house, Taylor said.

Ashmore also fired at several neighbors, but missed, Taylor said.

During the splurge of violence, which lasted about 90 minutes, Alan Ashmore fired shots at several houses, a winery and two gas stations and set wildfires. He left authorities with seven different crime scenes to investigate.

Even before the gunfire began, neighbors noticed trouble was afoot, Taylor said. Richard Braden, 64, a longtime friend of Ashmore, was seen at Douglas Ashmore’s residence banging on the front door and windows, Taylor said.

When no one answered, Braden parked nearby on Anchor Village and sat in his car, only to be shot to death by Ashmore, Taylor said.

Ashmore then tore around town in his white Chevrolet Tahoe, armed with a Remington 1200 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun, a Raven arms .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol and numerous rounds of ammunition, Taylor said.

He drove to a neighbor’s house on Anchor Village and shot at the residence, prompting a woman inside to jump out a window and suffer non-life-threatening injuries.

Ashmore shot at several other houses, including one of a former employer, before a CHP officer tried to pull him over, Taylor said. The officer was shot in the leg during the confrontation and was treated at a hospital and released, said Officer Kory Reynolds of the CHP office in Kelseyville.

Ashmore fled in his sport utility vehicle to a Chevron station in the 13200 block of Highway 20, Taylor said.

Bob George, the owner of the Chevron station, said he was in a backroom receiving a delivery from a beer vendor when he heard a “great, big, loud boom.”

He said Ashmore entered the station’s market just as the vendor was leaving. He said Ashmore bumped into the vendor and nearly knocked him over.

“The vendor turned to him and said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ and the guy turned around and shot the gun,” George said. “He was like five feet away from the vendor when he shot the gun.”

The bullet missed the vendor and hit an advertising sign and breaking the front window.

As George ran out of the back door, he saw Ashmore running to his vehicle with a shotgun and a two-liter Pepsi. The beer vendor, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, returned fire, shattering the windows of Ashmore’s SUV, George said.

Following the shooting at the Chevron, Ashmore drove to the Power Mart on Highway 20 near Foothill Boulevard, where he stole a pack of cigarettes, a cigarette lighter and had an altercation with another person, Taylor said. There were no reported injuries.

As he drove east on Highway 20 toward High Valley Road, Ashmore set several wildfires, Taylor said, just days after the Sulfur Fire tore through the area and destroyed more than 150 homes while burning 2,207 acres. The fires were quickly put out by the Northshore Fire Protection District and Cal Fire, Taylor added.

Ashmore made a pit stop at Brassfield Winery, on the 10000 block of High Valley Road, where he shot at a person there, but missed, Taylor said.

Police caught up with Ashmore and chased him until he ran into a roadblock set up by CHP officers and a Lakeport police officer at Bartlett Springs and High Valley roads. He surrendered without incident and was arrested on suspicion of murder and robbery.

George said Ashmore had frequented his Chevron in the past and was known as a “nice guy actually.”

“One of my cooks told me he would come in and buy hamburgers and stuff for his father,” George said. “It’s a crazy world we are living in. You don’t know what’s going to snap somebody to cause these problems.”

(SF Chronicle)

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(Photo by Susie de Castro)

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Dear Editor,

We are writing to encourage our community to vote for Measure B on the November ballot. Measure B will allow Mendocino County to address and improve mental health services, and set us as an example for the rest of the state! As representatives of the school district, we both believe this is an overdue start to developing facilities and services for people in our communities who are suffering from mental health issues. Law enforcement officers are not trained in working with mental illness, yet they are the responders to 911 calls to intervene with the mentally ill. The mentally ill are not criminals and should not take time from an already spread thin law enforcement officer. The investment now into the infrastructure and development of services will address the current need and the growing problem that is seen countywide in our youth. Please use the vote by mail ballot that will have arrived or be arriving in the mail this week to vote for Measure B!

Michelle Hutchins & Donna Pierson-Pugh


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by Katy Tahja

While researching Mendocino County’s geology as I prepare to write a 150-year history of Mendocino County I was re-reading “Mineral Commodities Of California” published in 1957. It’s a 736-page treasure with charts, maps and photos and I paid a whopping $1.00 for it at a yard sale. Hey, you get research books wherever you can find something relevant.

Did you know some of our rocks have asbestos within serpentine? Or that asphalt bituminous rock was found in Pt. Arena and graphite (pencil lead) was found in a claim 15 miles east of town? Chromite was found near Leggett and coal beds 14 feet thick were near Dos Rios near the Middle Fork of the Eel River?Manganese was mined from chert in the Franciscan rock formation on the eastern boundary of the county and there were nickel prospects in the north county and rhodochrosite deposits near Covelo.

The really fun discovery was about jade mining, with a photo, at Leech Lake northeast of Covelo. It’s a private in-holding within The Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. Checking with Big Sam Gitchell, who owns the Rock Stop at Floodgate on Highway 128, I found out this is one of the jade claims he now owns, along with the River Blossom jade claim in Trinity County. Sam and his family produce beautiful jewelry for the shop with locally sourced Botryoidal Jade.

If you want to find jade of your own on public land there are several books that can lead you to rockhounding sites in the county. ‘Gem Trails of Northern California,” “Rocks & Minerals of California,” and “Rockhounding California” are all good resources. One delightful old book I own is called “California Gem Trails” published in 1974 by Darold Henry. Little hand drawn maps decorate the book and the first chapter is Mendocino Gems. It talks about nephrite and jadeite and jaspers and tells you where to stop and look.

Rockhounding is great family adventure and dirt cheap, if you’ll excuse the pun. All it takes is gas money and a map. You don’t have to be a geologist to enjoy spotting pretty rocks and they’re great for decorating your garden paths. On public lands rocks are free for the taking. Every time I drive north on Highway 101 I stop along the Avenue of the Giants at Dyerville Flat. There used to be a town here, and a CCC camp during the Depression, all carried away by floodwaters. Right north past interpretative signage for the two forks of the Eel River joining is a road down onto the river bar. The road is easy to access in any car and when you walk the riverbank you find a myriad variety of interesting rocks thrown together by the two river forks.

Someday I want to find some crocidolite, just because I love the name. It’s a fibrous blue formation of asbestos, also called reibeckite and I’ve got it marked on a map for a future rockhounding trip.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “My fave tv show? Crime Watch Daily with the great Chris Hansen. I like to watch that kid reporter Jason Watchmacallit chase down crooks. ‘You're running away from me now?!’ he yells at them. Kinda reminds me of me, on the hunt for evil doers.”

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On the night the fires broke out, there were certain known risks. Besides a red-flag warning with severe winds expected, we knew that PG&E lines weren’t maintained properly. Why not proactively shut down parts of the non-essential power grid during the wind event until a damage assessment could be done? Especially in rural areas.

I believe they did this in Puerto Rico recently in anticipation of the hurricanes to try to save as much equipment as they could and prevent fires when the hurricanes struck.

Ian Sewell

Santa Rosa

* * *

* * *


The Swingin' Boonville Big Band needs someone for the 4th trumpet chair. We practice in Boonville and Mendocino on alternating weeks. We have someone coming in who is unable to travel for the coast rehearsals, so we have an opening for the coast rehearsals. These are the first and third Wednesdays of the Month from 7 - 10pm. Interested trumpeters will need some ensemble experience. If you played in a high school band for a couple years you should be able to hack it, though if it has been a long time since you had chops you may need to warm up for a week or a month first.

Interested? Get in touch offline.

* * *

POLICE IDENTIFIED a 44-year-old Cloverdale man as the alleged prowler shot and killed by Cloverdale police early Saturday morning.

Victor Gonzalez Gonzalez was shot by two officers after he allegedly advanced on them with a hammer disregarding demands to drop the weapon, according to Petaluma police investigating the incident.

Four Cloverdale police officers and one supervisor responded to a 1:46 a.m. call from a resident on the 100 block of Garden Circle Way of a man in his neighbor’s backyard, Petaluma police said.

Three officers entered a side gate and allegedly saw Gonzalez holding a hammer, police said.

Petaluma police claim the officers were “fearing for their safety” when they fired at least six rounds at Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was given medical assistance before being transported the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he died, police said.

Petaluma police, with help from Rohnert Park Public Safety, are investigating the shooting under the county’s officer-involved fatal incident protocol that calls for other departments to independently investigate such cases.

* * *


Artist Begins Sculpture Placement in Rio Dell

Humboldt County artist Dan McCauley installed his first piece of artwork in the City of Rio Dell on October 24, 2017 as part of a long‐held plan to develop public art along Wildwood Avenue. McCauley worked with the City’s Sculpture Committee, Chamber of Commerce and City Council for months to realize his vision. The installation will be the first of at least four sculptures displayed publicly that present a wildlife theme. McCauley’s first display is of a Great Horned Owl ready for flight from a burnt tree. Future sculptures will include a Mountain Lion, Bull Elk and a Grizzly Bear in action and the art displays will change over time as part of a 5‐year agreement to display art along Wildwood Avenue.

(Click to enlarge)

The art program was made possible by generous donations from Pacific Gas & Electric, The Headwaters Fund, McClain Foundation and local Rio Dell business Root 101 Nursery. The funds ensure placement of four sculptures over a five year period and will rotate over time as interested buyers purchase the artwork from Mr. McCauley.

More of McCauley’s work can be seen at

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, October 24, 2017

Beers, Canepa, Craig

DANIEL BEERS,Ukiah. DUI-alcohol/drugs.

RANDALL CANEPA, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

MICHAEL CRAIG, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

Diamond, Gilmore, Merrill

JASON DIAMOND, Ukiah. DUI, resisting.

MELAINE GILMORE, Laytonville. Domestic abuse, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, under influence, criminal threats.

ROSS MERRILL, Mendocino, Domestic abuse, resisting.

Moon, Yarbrough, Zandueta

MARCO MOON, Fort Bragg. Under influence, parole violation.

ALLEN YARBROUGH, Jamestown, New York/Willits. Controlled substance, sale of organic drug, fugitive from justice.

CATRINA ZANDUETA, Albany, Oregon/Ukiah. Willful cruelty to child, evasion, resisting.

* * *

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world. Once upon a time you saw people like this in every newsroom in the country. They often had chaotic personal lives and they died early of cirrhosis or a heart attack. But they were tough, angry SOBs and they produced great stories. Do you want to know what kind of people get promoted and succeed in the modern news organization? Social climbers. Networkers. People who are gregarious, who “buy in” to the dominant consensus, who go along to get along and don’t ask too many really awkward questions. They are flexible, well-organized, and happy with life. And it shows.

— Brett Arends

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Ever since the demise of the agrarian village, millennia ago, human beings have lived essentially under one economic system, what Bellamy called “the rule of the rich” in his late 19th Century classics, “Looking Backward” and “Equality.” There has never been genuine “civilized” democracy, because the most important side of life–the economic one that physically sustains us–was never put under public control and has remained largely autocratic, from feudalism through communism to capitalism and all permutations thereof. In America, for example, you can vote for Trump or Clinton, with impact on certain social issues, but you have, in the vast majority of cases, no input into or control over the job that feeds your family. The day after you voted in the political arena, you can show up to work in the economic arena and be handed a shoebox, in which to empty your desk before being escorted out the building by a security guard. In one way or another, so it has been since “civilization” arose, and the acceptance of this servile, precarious economic condition has been hammered into our DNA to the point of TINA. Small wonder that dystopias abound, and utopias are few and far between.

* * *

“…despite how certainty feels, it is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process. Certainty and similar states of "knowing what we know" arise out of primary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of rationality or reason. Feeling correct or certain isn't a deliberate conclusion or conscious choice. It is a mental sensation that happens to us.”

—Neurologist Robert Burton

“Our brains have a specialized facial recognition module. Studies of infants and brain injuries have taught us much of what is known about the inborn structures of our minds, and we know about the facial recognition module from both. Shortly after birth, babies are uniquely attracted to two round circles with a slash beneath them. … Most of the time, …our facial recognition module overfunctions rather than underfunctioning. In ambiguous situations—looking at clouds, rocks, lumps of clay, or ink blots—we have a tendency to see faces. Our brains automatically activate our facial recognition machinery even though it doesn’t really apply. Through history people have seen gods, demons, ghosts looking at them. Christians, whose interpretation of hazy shapes is further shaped by belief in specific supernatural persons see Jesus, the Virgin Mary, an angel, a demon, or even Satan.”

—Valerie Tarico

(Both quotations are from Valerie Tarico’s essay, “Christian Belief Through the Lens of Cognitive Science” — Louis Bedrock)

* * *


Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit Of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

37Ink / Atria Books, February 2017

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in New York and then Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south or out of the state, just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property -- without success.

* * *

ALL OUT OF DOORS looked darkly in at him

Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,

That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.

What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze

Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.

What kept him from remembering what it was

That brought him to that creaking room was age.

He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.

And having scared the cellar under him

In clomping there, he scared it once again

In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,

Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar

Of trees and crack of branches, common things,

But nothing so like beating on a box.

A light he was to no one but himself

Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,

A quiet light, and then not even that.

He consigned to the moon, such as she was,

So late-arising, to the broken moon

As better than the sun in any case

For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,

His icicles along the wall to keep;

And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt

Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,

And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.

One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,

A farm, a countryside, or if he can,

It's thus he does it of a winter night.

Robert Frost



  1. Lazarus October 25, 2017

    The Willits was out of cell and internet last evening…woke up to internet…obviously…, ain’t checked cell yet. Willits News says just Willits was affected.
    As always,

  2. Bill Pilgrim October 25, 2017

    RE: “The best reporter…etc.”

    I knew such a man years ago. He wrote for the now-defunct Oakland Tribune. He was so irascible he could start an argument in an empty room. But he broke some big stories about the corruption in Oakland politics, especially his investigation that eventually led to the school system being taken over by the state.
    That type of reporter isn’t even hired anymore by the major media companies. Edward R. Murrow could not find a job today at a network.

    • Jeff Costello October 25, 2017

      “Edward R. Murrow could not find a job today at a network.” And in Murrow’s time Sean Hannity wouldn’t have gotten past the lobby.

    • George Hollister October 25, 2017

      The AVA has had such reporters, and they tend to leave or get in a fight with the editor. The editor fits the mold as well. Might be why he got his own newspaper, he knew no one would hire him. A regular WR Hearst with less money. He has mellowed, and actually gained some wisdom with age.

  3. Kathy October 25, 2017

    I don’t know of any legal authority to preemptively cut the PG&E juice, as your reader suggests…

  4. BB Grace October 25, 2017

    The best news reporter is anyone who brings good news to your heart and mind. The rest is all entertainment.

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