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In the News - Friday, January 8, 2010

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted



Next Week's Year-in-Review: The News of 2009

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Town Meeting will explore 2010

   The Three Rivers Town Hall meeting returns Monday, Jan. 11. The regular monthly forum presented by the Three Rivers Village Foundation will be held at the Three Rivers Memorial Building from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
   The agenda will feature five speakers who will furnish updates on an array of topics, some of which are certain to be among the big news makers for 2010. Topping the agenda will be transportation issues that affect everyone who drives or bikes in Tulare County.
   Ted Smalley, the executive director of the Tulare County Association of Governments, will discuss how the Measure R funds will be used in 2010. In an era when most counties are slashing budgets, Measure R monies have Tulare County moving ahead on several new projects.
   Smalley supervises a TCAG staff of 11 planners and administrators. He is involved in regional San Joaquin Valley policymaking, the development of the Santa Fe Trail linking Tulare and Visalia, planning for light and short haul rail systems in Tulare County, and the construction of more bikeways.
   Johnny Wong will also be in attendance. Wong oversees the road maintenance and building projects for the Tulare County Resource Management Agency. One of the agency’s recently completed projects was the Cherokee Oaks bridge (2009).
   Adrienne Freeman, public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, will address 2010 road construction plans for the local parks.

  “This will be an extremely busy summer with projects planned for the Generals Highway — Amphitheater Point to Deer Ridge — replacement of the Cedar Grove Bridge, and the chip sealing of 95 percent of all park roads and parking areas,” Freemen said.
   The delays and closures will take some cooperation from everyone to keep things running smoothly this summer. When these projects start depend on the weather, Adrienne added.
   There will also be updates from the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce and the Three Rivers Historical Society.
   Got a question for any of the speakers? There will be time for an open forum too.
   Information: 561-0123.

3R resident shoots bear

   If you live in Three Rivers, chances are you’ve encountered a bear or two. Keeping the prowling critters out of trash or pet food can be a real challenge.
   When a bear becomes a habitual diner on these local food sources there’s bound to be trouble. It’s trouble for the residents who find their properties on the bruin’s nightly rounds. Even more unfortunately, it’s trouble for the bear.
   Bears come into town, get into human or pet food, and the situation escalates over time. That’s the recent scenario that played out last month for a Mineral King Road property owner.

  “I talked to a [Sequoia] park bear tech and they told me that our bear sounded a lot like one they recently relocated from the Wuksachi area,” said Cliff St. Martin, the Three Rivers resident who reported the bear trouble. “He was a trash bear before he came to my area.”
   St. Martin, who has a trailer on a lot he’s building on about a mile-and-a-half up the Mineral King Road, said he noticed the bear had been visiting early last month. In one night, the hungry bruin destroyed some metal garbage cans to get at three 50-pound bags of pet food, which he apparently ate during this one visit.
   In the meantime, St. Martin called the Fresno office of the California Department of Fish and Game and was informed that if a bear is prowling around it’s best just to run the critter off and inform the game warden of the incident. The department, St. Martin was told, will assess the problem and then take the appropriate action.
   Department policy also states that if the bear breaks into a house or building, or attempts to break in, and is perceived as a threat to occupants, then that’s a different situation.
   After that incident, St. Martin said, he put the rest of the pet food for the dogs and cat inside the trailer. A few nights later he got a call from an anxious neighbor informing him that his dogs were barking like crazy and that the bear had returned.

  “When I got to the property, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary,” St. Martin recalled. “My dogs and cat were unharmed but I knew something was up.”
   St. Martin entered his trailer and didn’t see the intruder until he opened the bathroom door.

  “There he was standing in my bathroom,” St. Martin said. “He had eaten some old peanut brittle but no other food was touched.”
That’s when Cliff’s dad shot the bear. The wounded bear stumbled back for a moment, then ran off.
   A short time later, St. Martin found the bear dead in a ravine about 100 yards from the trailer. He estimated that he weighed between 450 and 500 pounds.
   In the ravine was trash from dozens of forays to nearly every property in the area. The St. Martins contacted the Department of Fish and Game and were issued a special tag that tallied the death in the local population.
“The first time I ever saw that bear, I yelled at him and tried to scare him off,” St. Martin said. “He looked up for a moment from his dinner and just ignored me like I wasn’t even there. He was just a little bit too comfortable being around people.”

DUI a factor in Harley wreck

   It’s no secret among motorcyclists. Riding the roads in the scenic Sierra is just about as good as it gets.
   But factor in a few drinks at a Badger saloon and those twisting mountain roads can become nearly impossible to negotiate.
   Evidently, that’s what happened to Charles Courtland Phillips, 54, of Tulare who crashed his 2005 Harley Davidson motorcycle on Saturday, Dec. 26, while southbound on Dry Creek Road. The accident occurred nine miles up from Hwy. 216 just after 5 p.m.
   When a passing motorist stopped to help, he found the injured Harley rider was conscious. He had Phillips get in his vehicle and started down canyon to get help. When the motorist saw emergency personnel en route he flagged them down to get Phillips treatment.
Phillips, who was wearing a helmet, complained of neck and shoulder pain and had a cut on his head. He was transported to a nearby hospital via ambulance.
   A CHP officer who investigated the accident determined that Phillips was intoxicated, and he was charged with DUI. The accident victim was also found to be driving with a suspended license as a result of a prior DUI.
   Officer Wright, a spokesperson with the Visalia office of the California Highway Patrol, said Phillips is facing even steeper fines and driving restrictions due to the prior offense.

  “If he petitions the judge for work-related driving privileges, he would be a candidate for the new ignition interlock program,” Wright said. “With the device in place, only a driver with a zero blood alcohol would be permitted to start and operate the vehicle.”
   IID PILOT PROGRAM IN TULARE COUNTY— The new interlock program is a part of AB 91, which authorizes the DMV to create a pilot project requiring all convicted DUI offenders in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on every vehicle they own or operate as a condition to get their driver’s license returned.
   An evaluation will be conducted to determine if the IID pilots are effective in reducing the number of DUIs at the conclusion of the project.
   The new measure becomes effective July 1, 2010.

10 years of counting Sequoia birds

   On Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009, 17 volunteers participated in Sequoia National Park’s 10th annual Christmas Bird Count. The weather was fantastic and the birds really put on a show.
   A highlight of the count occurred along the flume near the Ash Mountain entrance station, when a Peregrine Falcon was observed capturing a Western Bluebird in mid-air. Needless to say, there were few birds seen in the area for many hours afterward!
   Some other notable sightings included the first Mountain Bluebirds (four of them) ever recorded for this count and the first Belted Kingfisher since 2001.

Total Species: 60
Total Birds: 2,054
Total Participants: 17
Total Count Hours: Foot– 51.5, Car–10.5
Total Count Miles: Foot– 41, Car–64.7

California Towhee (208), Acorn Woodpecker (193), Dark-eyed Junco (192), Western Scrub Jay (181), Oak Titmouse (162), Bushtit (117), American Robin (109), Western Blue Bird (92), White-breasted Nuthatch (87), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (81), Spotted Towhee (76), Lesser Goldfinch (54), Golden-crowned Sparrow (53), Wrentit (51), Hermit Thrush (40), California Quail (39), European Starling (36), Northern Flicker (35), Stellar’s Jay (31), Common Raven (29), Cedar Waxwing (25), Mountain Quail (14), Red-breasted Nuthatch (13), Black Phoebe (12), Purple Finch (10), Golden-crowned Kinglet (9), House Finch (9), Red-tailed Hawk (9), Hairy Woodpecker (7), Mountain Chickadee (7), Brown Creeper (6), Mourning Dove (6), Great Horned Owl (5), Nuttall’s Woodpecker (5), American Kestrel (4), Mountain Bluebird (4), California Thrasher (4), American Dipper (3), Fox Sparrow (3), House Wren (3), Red-breasted Sapsucker (3), Red-shouldered Hawk (3), Rufous-crowned Sparrow (3), Chipping Sparrow (3), Northern Pygmy Owl (2), White-headed Woodpecker (2), Anna’s Hummingbird (1), Band-tailed Pigeon (1), Belted Kingfisher (1), Bewick’s Wren (1), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1), Canyon Wren (1), Cooper’s Hawk (1), Great Blue Heron (1), Lark Sparrow (1), Peregrine Falcon (1), Phainopepla (1), Rock Wren (1), Townsend’s Solitaire (1), Northern Harrier (1).

  Submitted by Danny Gammons, organizer of the Sequoia Christmas Bird Count.



From art to yoga:

A tour of 1st Saturday

By Eddie McArthur

   The 1st Saturday event in Three Rivers just keeps getting bigger and better, and several new faces and locales were added on January 2.    Shirley Keller opened her studio at SPIRIT HILL with a colorful display of her multiple talents.
   Shirley is a wonderful photographer, a creator of ceramic masks, and a magician with recycled art. With a penchant for turquoise – the color, not the stone – in her painted rusty, rescued art, the front of Shirley’s studio gleamed with color.
   Spirit Hill is located on Skyline Drive farther up Highway 198 than most of the open businesses and studios, but it’s well worth the few extra miles to visit with Shirley and view her interesting art pieces. Shirley told me that this month she had 15 visitors.
   THE ART CO-OP has scheduled the monthly reception for their featured artist of the month to correspond with the 1st Saturday happenings. This month, weaver Nikki Crain is featured.
   Nikki is well known around Three Rivers and offers many items, from her signature “mug rugs” that serve as effective coasters to wonderful scarves and shawls. Ask her about the connection between higher mathematics and her weaving.
   Nikki uses natural fibers and dyes in her quest for both beauty and a healthy means of working and living. In addition, Nikki offers soy candles, a healthy alternative to commercial candles with a petroleum base.
   Outside the Co-Op was, of all things, a snowman at least six feet tall. One of the Co-Op artists had brought a truck-full of snow down from the Sierra and created the Three Rivers version of “Frosty,” complete with sunglasses and straw hat.
   Just around the corner from the Co-Op, Jalene Vincent-Welch has opened 3 RIVERS YOGA. This month at the yoga studio, Miriam Briks and Kevin Yee have on display paintings and reproductions depicting Three Rivers scenes and visions inspired by their recent trip to India.
   In addition, Kevin provided music for a yoga class in the form of a traditional Persian instrument named for a peacock. Both Kevin and Miriam are accomplished artists. They often work on a piece together with Miriam starting a figural part and Kevin adding background, embellishment, etc.
   A free one-hour yoga class was offered as part of 1st Saturday, and I managed to twist myself into a few poses before I felt the need to continue my tour for the day.
   Jalene trained in India and is an accomplished yogi. Back in my youth – okay, that was decades ago – I taught yoga for awhile, so I can offer a very heartfelt endorsement of Jalene’s abilities, both as a practitioner and a teacher.
   In addition to yoga, you’ll find Pilates for strengthening core muscles and belly dancing for great fun and a workout combined. Jalene is joined by instructors Day Spencer and Jen Carpenter.
   She will offer cards for either three or six visits to be used within a month of the first visit. If your New Year’s resolution includes getting in shape, this is a great place to start.
   Having run out of decaf coffee at home, I wanted to be sure to stop in at HARRISON HALL at COMMUNITY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH for a bag of their Fair Trade Coffee. The church is generously opening each 1st Saturday to provide public restroom facilities and free coffee and water to 1st Saturday visitors.
   In addition, they offer the Fair Trade Coffee and organic chocolates for sale. We also took time to enjoy Jane Ziegler’s landscape and portrait paintings displayed on the porch outside Harrison Hall. This would be a great spot for two or three more artists to join in the 1st Saturday fun.
   After zipping home so I could finally finish taking down my Christmas decorations, I talked my husband into heading back out with me to visit ORANGE RAY. The boutique, which features green, organic items was closed, but their “Gnome Theater” was open and playing to a full house.
   Wendi Morrison and Keith Merritt have opened this venue featuring both the boutique and the Blue Crow, a spot for music, readings, and even Gnome Theater. This month was “Ugly Little People,” a puppet show that had both adults and children laughing.
   So, this month I managed five stops out of the 21 – yes, 21! – locations participating. Given that several locations host additional participants, as did 3 Rivers Yoga, there are nearly 30 participants involved.
   Next month, 1st Saturday will offer a preview of the beautiful bowls to be featured that night at the Empty Bowls dinner at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. I can’t help but plug that event. The ARTS   ALLIANCE OF THREE RIVERS, in partnership with the THREE RIVERS BREAD BASKET, will be offering a dinner of soup and bread served in handmade bowls. The price of a ticket will get you both the dinner and the bowl to take home, and all profits from the event go to benefit the Bread Basket. Watch the Kaweah Kalendar for details.
   Can Three Rivers honestly be billed as an “artists’ community”? Absolutely! Can the arts and artists of this little jewel of a town be the catalyst for our own version of economic recovery? It’s more than possible.
   Visit THE ART CO-OP when you need a gift or want to add a piece of local art to your home. Stop by ORANGE RAY for organic products and take the kids to theater productions.
   Pick up one of the brochures prepared by the ARTS ALLIANCE that will direct you to the studios of many local artists. Stop by NADI’S STUDIO for a mug, a T-shirt, or a tote if you aren’t in the market for what is often perceived as “art.”
   Tone up at 3 RIVERS YOGA and SMITH’S FITNESS. But, most of all, venture out on the next 1st Saturday.
   Eddie McArthur is a Three Rivers artist and president of the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers.

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
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