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Valley People (Jan. 10, 2018)

EVERYONE who knew her will be shocked and saddened to learn that Sharon Sullivan has died. A long-time resident of the Holmes Ranch and, for years, the gracious hostess at the Roederer Winery, Sharon will be missed by all of us.

AND OUR DEEPEST apologies to the families of the Bob Nimmons and Larry Smith families for inadvertently failing to include these much-valued long-time members of the Anderson Valley community in our annual roster of persons who have passed on. We cringe at the omission, believe me.

RAIN! Welcome back. It’s been a while. Please make yourself at home. We were all wondering where you’d been. And now that you’re here, stay for a few days, but not long enough to convert our streams to the raging, eroding torrents they were last year, so powerful several Valley families lost as much as an acre of their streamside properties.

ON THE SUBJECT of wonder, Dave Evans of the Navarro Store isn’t the only one annually wondering at CalTrans failure to steer visitors to the Mendocino Coast over the Comptche Road when CalTrans closes Highway 128. The County of Mendocino might also take the trouble of assuring travelers that the Mendocino Coast remains easily accessible via Comptche. Given the many thousands of annual dollars the County spends advertising County splendors why the annual deterrent of scaring people away?

THE CHILL DARK of Christmas just past was spectacularly lifted by the local Christmas light shows produced from one end of The Valley to the other. The perennial spectacular offered by Shorty Adams in Boonville was, as always, a sight to behold, as was the display on Anderson Valley Way at the home of Steve and Terri Rhoades. Then, at the Deepend, many a late night traveler’s journey was lightened by the electronic seasonal uplift at the Navarro Store, the work of Kim Kice, Tommi-Ann, Carol, and Linda.

AND WHAT happened to The Valley’s annual Christmas display contest? Didn’t the Chamber of Commerce do that? Excuse the impertinence, but what does the CofC do these days?

HIGHWAY 128 re-opened Monday morning about 6am. The sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro breached about 4am.

ONE MORE TIME — the official reason why the sandbar isn't blasted open at the mouth of the Navarro:

Renee Pasquinelli State Parks: “State Parks is responsible for management of the Navarro property. We too have received questions regarding the closure of the river mouth. This situation has existed for decades; the difference is the previous tenant of the Mill Keepers house artificially breached the mouth (sometimes in the middle of the night) to protect his chemical shed. Below is a recent response that I wrote to Superintendent Loren Rex regarding the Navarro breaching question: River breaching is subject to regulation by the Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Lands Commission, and CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. State Parks does not have the authority to simply breach the mouth. Also, past studies have concluded that artificial breaching without adequate rainfall can be lethal to estuary species. Estuaries contain salt and fresh water; the heavier salt water sinks to the bottom forming a highly saline lens beneath a somewhat freshwater upper layer. Breaching siphons off the top freshwater layer, leaving the highly saline layer beneath. Organisms that were able to escape the toxic saline layer prior to breaching have been trapped at the bottom and killed by the saline “brine.” I have literally seen thousands of dead fish, crabs, and other organisms at the Navarro after an illegal breaching incident several years ago. Unfortunately, the Navarro discussions escalate only when people see the closed river mouth and want access to the beach. This stimulates a perception that something has to be done now. Ideally, we need a long term management plan for the Navarro estuary. As I recall from my past work in the Russian River area, Sonoma County Water Agency ultimately worked with Army Corps, the public, and the other regulatory agencies to develop a river mouth plan that included breaching — but the work was justified to prevent flooding of private residences on the lower Russian River. Also, as I recall, the compromise was that the river had to be monitored such that breaching could only occur when certain ecological conditions existed. I would welcome the opportunity to work with CDFW and the other regulatory agencies to pursue funding for a long term plan. For now, there is little threat to the Navarro facilities from the high water level (the Inn was raised a few years ago), and as I understand, there is a great potential for die off of sensitive species if illegal breaching occurs.”

WE THINK MIKE TUBBS is on to something re the annual sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro: “This is an example of what Fish&Game does to screw the people of California. In the past the mouth of this river had been opened using a cat or excavator to stop the flooding. I know for a fact they did it from the sixties up until the late nineties and all of a sudden Fish&Game decided it would hurt the fish. The salmon are now going to be forced to spawn in the ocean and die. There wiping out a whole population of salmon for a year. They did the same thing in Pudding Creek a number of years ago and I was told it was because of a little bullhead fish that was endangered. I wonder what happens to that bullhead when mother nature turns loose and floods everything to a point it blows the sand bar out. More water will flow out the mouth and the impact will be twice as bad on the little bullhead. This idea is beyond stupid and I would sure like to know how these idiots justify what they are doing.”

COMPTCHE’S GENTLEMAN GEORGE HOLLISTER on the sandbar dilemmas: “I am willing to accept the reasons for failing to artificially breach the sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro River, and the subsequent flooding and closure of Hwy 128. But then the alternative route through Comptche needs to be upgraded to state standards. Putting all the Hwy 128 traffic on a county road, not suited for it, results in severe damage, particularly when this is done after the soil has been saturated with rain. The State needs to pony up, and upgrade Flynn Creek Road, and Comptche-Ukiah Road from the Comptche Store to Hwy 1. There is no excuse not to. After all, the locals (people) who use these roads are more important than the fresh water critters living in the Navarro estuary."

JOHNNY SCHMITT'S BOONVILLE HOTEL GROUP has bought the property next door to the Hotel with an expansion of the Hotel's capacity in mind. Now that Anderson Valley has become a tourist destination in itself, the Boonville Hotel and The Valley’s other A-1 hostelries unable to keep up with the demand for transient accommodations, an expansion of the Boonville Hotel makes $ense.

SPOTTED in San Anselmo, a small boy, 8 or 9, with four nerf rifles and a nerf pistol, his chest nearly invisible beneath the weaponry. Nerf guns were big sellers this Christmas among 6-to-9 year olds.

RICKY OWENS of Boonville has pled guilty to felony child endangerment causing great bodily harm. He will be sentenced in February. Like many local people, I have written to the court urging leniency because, having known Ricky since he was a toddler, this event was totally out of character for him. A video recording by a Ukiah hotel camera, showed Owens holding a young boy's head underwater, apparently unaware the child was drowning. The boy has fully recovered after a brief hospitalization and has since been placed in foster care.

"DEAR EDITOR: I miss Todd Walton. SKD, Willits." As the media paradigm shifts to ether-based publications, we are forced to reduce our paper-paper to 8 pages. The readers of paper-papers are passing on. The young don't read newspapers. We now publish the equivalent of a daily Mendo paper on-line. I don't like reading on-line myself, but saw no option but to cut back the prohibitively expensive-to-produce paper-paper, and lots of good writers went with the cut. If you google Todd you'll find him on-line.

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