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In the News - Friday, January 4, 2013

 

 

Only in the January 11, 2013, print edition:

2012 in Review: THE FACES
A retrospective photo gallery

 

 

Fire victims also targets of theft

 

  It’s enough of a tragedy for anyone to lose their home in a fire, let alone on Christmas Eve [“Fire consumes house, belongings on Christmas Eve,” December 28, 2012], but a thief at a house fire in Lemon Cove made a bad situation even worse. After Christine Burns and her daughter, Laurabelle, parked nearby and rushed to the scene of their house on fire, somebody entered their vehicle and removed both of the women’s purses.

  “We were in such a state of shock that night, we didn’t even notice the purses were missing until several hours later,” said Christine Burns. “The thief who stole our purses certainly added insult to injury.”

  Christine said new details of the fire’s investigation have also come to light as to the origin of the blaze.

  “The investigating officer determined a couple of days later that the origin of the blaze was in the attic and was caused by faulty wiring,” said Christine. “It could have been a mouse chewing on the wiring that caused a spark that suddenly ignited a fire.”

  Christine said investigators could tell the flashpoint because that’s where the fire burned the hottest. Her room, directly below where the fire started in the attic, was a total loss.

  The fire burned so hot that it melted bathroom fixtures on her side of the house, Christine said.

  “On the other side where Laurabelle [Christine’s grown daughter] had her room, some family heirlooms from her grandmother were actually salvaged,” Christine said. “The house itself is a total loss.”

  Christine said because of the kindness of friends, she has been housesitting and also staying with Laurabelle who is a nanny for a Woodlake family. A friend and former client in Three Rivers has offered a vacation rental in which the victims may live until April 1.

  Christine and Laurabelle are third and fourth-generation descendants from a family that has lived in Three Rivers for more than 60 years. Byron Miksch was Christine’s grandfather; her parents are Manuel and Mary Andrade of Three Rivers.

  Monetary donations in the name of Christine and/or Laurabelle Burns may be made to a relief fund at Valley Oak Credit Union.

  For more information on how to assist the pair, call Mary Andrade, 561-4692.

 

Assault case continued to January 24

 

  After a Friday, Dec. 14, court appearance, Judy Dovel’s preliminary hearing was continued until Thursday, Jan. 24. Dovel, 66, is charged with several felony counts stemming from the alleged abuse of an 88-year-old Three Rivers woman.

  Dovel, who was employed previously at Three Rivers Drug, also worked part-time as a caretaker. The victim is recovering from bruises and head trauma suffered in connection with the case.

  In another Three Rivers case, Rey Martinez Lespier, aka Alex Hernandez, was sentenced last month to two years in Merced County Jail for charges stemming from an immigration fraud case. Lespier accepted a plea bargain that included the jail time followed by probation.

  Merced police arrested Lespier on August 10 in Three Rivers at the home he shared with his wife. The plea bargain, in which Lespier admitted to posing as an immigration attorney and collecting fees for services he never delivered, allows Lespier to avoid time in state prison and gives him credit for time served since his arrest.

 

WHO’S NEWS

 

Living to tell about it: Taking the plunge

Polar Dip 2013 by the numbers:

12 (years), 60 (participants), 38 (degrees, water temperature)

 

By Holly Gallo

 

  On New Year’s Day 2002, just five people braved the cold Kaweah River water in the inaugural Three Rivers Polar Dip. Twelve years later, on January 1, 2013, there was barely room to move on the rocky shore just below The Gateway Restaurant as nearly 60 people stripped down to their skivvies and prepared to plunge their goose-bumped bodies into the icy-cold 38-degree water. The Gateway crew remarked that this, the 2013 Polar Dip, was by far the biggest turnout they have witnessed.

  The weather was kind to the dippers that afternoon, the bright sun warming the day to a high 52 degrees. The resident ducks, displaced by the plucky swimmers, looked on unimpressed as the crowd screamed and splashed into the water and quickly clamored back to dry land.

  Resident sheriff’s deputy Jim Fansett asked those who got out first to help the people behind them out of the water, and the masses obliged; the Gateway’s obligatory release form rendered meaningless by charitable hands that made this year’s dip injury-free.

  Vocational duty prevented me from joining the swimmers at first as I had to capture the moments with my camera for the Commonwealth, but I appreciated the delay. If there is one thing I avoid at all costs, it’s cold water.

  During the summer I need to be pushed into the river if the temperature outside is anything less than 100 degrees, and in high school I spent exactly one week on the swim team before abandoning that freezing pool and quitting the team.

  Yet by living in Three Rivers and missing the Polar Dip every year made me resolved to make the plunge this year. Besides, for all of the 12 Polar Dips that the Commonwealth had covered, no one on staff has ever actually participated in it.

  Rum and coke in one hand and camera in the other, I handed my supplies to a handsome neighbor to shed my warm clothes and boots. With one foot in the water I was ready to call it a day – it’s called the Polar Dip, and having dipped a single toe in, have I not complied?

  I steeled my reserve, took a deep breath, and dropped into the snowmelt with a gasped profanity. Watching the dozens who ran into the water together, laughing and splashing each other, I expected a similar adrenaline-induced hyperactivity to overtake me. But surprisingly, during those few seconds with my head submerged and ears filled with the bubbling hum of running waters, I felt a certain relief. The residues of the past were washed away, sanitized in a refreshing sub-zero bath.

  My hydrophobia dispersed and my heart slowed, at least until I resurfaced and the cold air met my wet skin in a shocking union that had me sprinting up the rock for my towel and my drink.

  Whether or not you took the dip January 1, may the New Year bring for you just as much fun, as we move onward to a magnificent 2013.

   Holly Gallo is a reporter for The Kaweah Commonwealth.

 

SNOW SURVEY 2013: 

Snowpack off to a wet start

 

  Snow surveyors reported on Wednesday, Jan. 2, that the water content in California’s mountain snowpack is at 134 percent of the statewide average for January, the traditional start of the monthly snow measurements that help the California Department of Resources (DWR) determine allocations of the precious water runoff.

  The snowpack normally provides about one-third of all the water used by California’s homes, farms, and industries as it slowly melts into streams and aquifers beginning about May and continuing into the summer months. DWR and cooperating agencies conduct manual snow surveys and collect electronic data around the first of each month from January to May.

But the name of the game for users remains conservation.

“We are off to a good water-supply start for the New Year, but we have to remember that we have seen wet conditions suddenly turn to dry more than once,” said Ted Thomas, DWR spokesman. “We know from experience that California is a drought-prone state, and that we must always practice conservation.”

  The earliest statewide totals are based on projections of the first manual readings that were taken January 2 off Highway 50 near Echo Summit and other sample electronic recording stations in the northern, central, and southern Sierra. These preliminary readings are showing that the water content of the snowpack is already about one-half the April 1 average.

  The manual measurements for places like Giant Forest and Mineral King should be available by next week. Preliminary numbers for the southern Sierra are showing 131 percent for January 1, and that translates to 44 percent of the April 1 average.

  DWR currently estimates that it will be able to deliver 40 percent of the slightly more than four million acre-feet of State Water Project water requested this year by the 29 public agencies that supply more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland. The delivery estimate is expected to increase as more storms develop.

  The final allocation for 2012 was 65 percent, and that was accomplished in a relatively dry year. In 2011, a significantly wetter year, the allocation was 80 percent. The last 100 percent allocation — difficult to achieve even in wet years because of restrictions on Delta pumping to protect sensitive fish species — was in 2006.

  The recent storms dumped plenty of snow in the local mountains, too. The Mineral King valley at 7,800 feet currently has a snowpack of 42 inches; the Lodgepole area at 6,800 feet is reporting approximately three feet of snow on the ground depending on the exposure and location.

 

2013 starts the redistricting elections shuffle

 

  Although some things stay the same for Three Rivers’s voting districts, there are just enough changes to make it interesting for some while others are wondering why couldn’t we leave well enough alone?

  Here is a rundown of who’s now representing Three Rivers.

  U.S. Senators— Dianne Feinstein (D) and Barbara Boxer (D).

  U.S. Representative-23rd District— Kevin McCarthy (R). Formerly Devin Nunes (R), District 21.

  California Senate-8th District— Office to be filled after the mid-term election in 2014. Jean Fuller (R), 18th District, will continue to represent Three Rivers.

  California Assembly, District 23— Jim Patterson (R). Formerly Connie Conway (R), District 34.

  California Board of Equalization 1st District— Office to be filled after mid-term election in 2014. George Runner (R), 2nd District, will continue to represent Three Rivers as part of the five-member board that is the only publicly elected tax commission in the United States.

Nonpartisan elected offices:

  Tulare County Supervisor-District 1— Allen Ishida.

  College of Sequoias Board of Trustees-District 2— Kenneth Nunes.

  Woodlake Unified School District-Area F (north side of Hwy. 198)— Edmund Pena.

  Woodlake Unified School District-Area G (south side of Hwy. 198)— Kent Owen.

  Three Rivers Union School District-Board of Trustees—Valerie Abanathie, Jason Hawes, George Kulick, Scott Sherwood, Sue Winters.

 

Lake Kaweah at 10 percent capacity and on the rise

 

  The low water level at Lake Kaweah is currently popular with anglers, whether on shore or in a boat, and walkers and horseback riders. The calm water provides excellent habitat for migratory birds, including waterfowl and bald eagles. The low water also reveals roads and trails that will soon be inundated as the lake level increases due to precipitation and, later, snowmelt.

 

Stamp price to increase by 1 cent

 

  After a Friday, Dec. 14, court appearance, Judy Dovel’s preliminary hearing was continued until Thursday, Jan. 24. Dovel, 66, is charged with several felony counts stemming from the alleged abuse of an 88-year-old Three Rivers woman.

  Dovel, who was employed previously at Three Rivers Drug, also worked part-time as a caretaker. The victim is recovering from bruises and head trauma suffered in connection with the case.

  In another Three Rivers case, Rey Martinez Lespier, aka Alex Hernandez, was sentenced last month to two years in Merced County Jail for charges stemming from an immigration fraud case. Lespier accepted a plea bargain that included the jail time followed by probation.

Merced police arrested Lespier on August 10 in Three Rivers at the home he shared with his wife. The plea bargain, in which Lespier admitted to posing as an immigration attorney and collecting fees for services he never delivered, allows Lespier to avoid time in state prison and gives him credit for time served since his arrest.

 

Options available for unwanted newborns

 

  It’s an obscure state law, but one worthy of knowing. The “Safely Surrendered Baby Law” took effect in January 2006 and allows parents who cannot otherwise care for a baby to place them in a safe environment.

  The law provides an alternative for the surrender of a newborn baby at a “safe surrender site,” which includes hospitals and other locations, most notably fire stations.

  Safe surrender sites are required to display a special blue and white logo decal. A baby can be safely surrendered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

  A parent or person having lawful custody of a newborn is granted immunity from criminal prosecution for abandonment if the newborn, 72 hours old or less, is delivered to an employee on duty.

  According to Joe Garcia, chief of the Tulare County Fire Department, no newborns have ever been surrendered to any Tulare County fire station, but 162 newborns have been safely surrendered in California.

  Chief Garcia notes that a parent who feels the need to abandon a baby may not have the means to transport the child to one of the three hospital emergency rooms in Tulare County that are designated safe surrender sites. But, he said, the Tulare County Fire Department has fire stations located in, or within close proximity to, many communities, all of which are also safe surrender sites.

 

List of banished words for 2013

 

  Michigan’s Lake Superior State University is featuring some overused phrases in its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misues, Overuse and General Uselessness. The 2013 list was compiled by the university from nominations submitted from around the world.

  The 2012 list included baby bump, man cave, occupy, the new normal, and amazing. In 2011, aim was taken at fail, viral, and a-ha moment.

  It’s obvious that the list doesn’t reach the entire populace as evidenced by the fact that many of these banished words are stubbornly clinging to the language.

  In total, there are about 900 words and phrases that have been added each year since 1976 when it began as a publicity ploy by the school’s public relations department. Since then, tens of thousands of nominations have been received.

  Here is the 2013 tongue-in-cheek list of banished words and phrases, so keep an eye out for the word police if you dare utter one or more of the following: fiscal cliff, kick the can down the road, double down, job creators/creation, passion/passionate, YOLO (you only live once), spoiler alert, bucket list, trending, superfood, boneless wings, guru.

 

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
editor@kaweahcommonwealth.com
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