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In the News - Friday, January 9, 2009


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Town meeting provides 2009 updates

   The Three Rivers Town Hall monthly meeting resumes Monday, Jan. 12, and features a busy agenda with updates on two local projects and State of the County remarks by Supervisor Allen Ishida. The meeting is hosted by the Three Rivers Village Foundation at the Memorial Building and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
   COUNTY ECONOMY— Supervisor Ishida said the Board of Supervisors is facing some difficult choices in the county budget and immediate layoffs in several departments are imminent. The first round of cuts is expected to be announced at Tuesday’s BOS meeting.
   Much of the shortfall in county revenue, Ishida said, is tied to a dismal economy that’s affecting every county in the state. There are less property and sales tax dollars being collected so that means if the economy doesn’t turn around soon more stringent cost-cutting measures will be needed.
   In a worst-case scenario, the county could be forced to make sweeping cuts across the board. In Three Rivers that could translate to a loss of emergency services like police, fire, and ambulance.
   SCENIC HIGHWAY— Tom Sparks, spokesperson for the Village Foundation, will also furnish an update on the scenic highway application. Sparks said the next move is up to Caltrans who will be responding soon to input that has been furnished since the county unveiled its corridor protection plan.
   This week, Sparks said, county planners also received some recommendations in a letter from the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce. The business community remains divided on whether a scenic highway designation would benefit the central core of business properties.
   SCENIC HIGHWAY MISINFORMATION— There is a petition being circulated by opponents, Sparks said, asking people to sign a document based on incorrect information. Apparently, the petition equates the scenic highway proposal with new requirements for a site plan review.
   The site plan review is already part of an existing county ordinance so the adoption of a scenic highway designation does not affect whether a project is required to have a site plan review.

  “The draft protection plan contained some strong language when it was first introduced a couple of months ago,” Sparks said. “It doesn’t have to be one extreme or another. I think when the process is finally complete it will be a matter of negotiating a middle position.”
   TRANSIT CENTER— Ishida will also update the proposal for a Three Rivers transit center. A consultant’s report has been received that looks at the feasibility and provides some cost alternatives. The budget needed to construct the center’s facilities would be approximately $750,000.
   NATIONAL PARKS— The meeting will also feature a presentation of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks activities and plans for 2009. There are proposals to begin park infrastructure projects and, if budgeted, these could provide some economic stimulus for the region.
   PARTICIPATION— As is customary at these meetings there will be ample opportunity for questions from the audience. For more information about the meeting, contact Tom Sparks, 561-0406.

Solar demand: An economic hot spot

   In uncertain times, when consumers are lacking confidence, the recent spike in demand for solar power might be a beacon pointing the way to the light at the end of the economic tunnel. That’s because applications in California for solar rebates hit an all-time high last month, one of the few silver linings in an otherwise lackluster economy.
   Californians filed more than 1,200 applications seeking solar subsidies in December 2008, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. That’s the most applications received in the program’s two-year history.
   More than 18,000 home and business owners have applied for the subsidies since the program began in 2006. Though just filing the paperwork doesn’t always mean the solar panels were actually installed, it’s an accurate barometer of things to come.
   A record 133 megawatts of solar photovoltaics have been installed in 2008 alone while the demand for nearly all other construction was significantly lower. Some property owners, who have made the decision to charge ahead, are reaping the benefits of lower construction costs and also believe environmentally it’s simply the right thing to do.
   One Earth Solar, a Three Rivers firm that specializes in solar installations, says the demand has leveled out locally but will probably spike again later this year as property owners seek ways to invest in their own property. Short of stashing cash in the proverbial mattress, there really isn’t much out there for the average investor if they are one of the fortunate few who have some surplus cash.
   But most analysts agree on one thing — investing in a property where you live or work remains a viable option while we all wait to see what effect, if any, the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package will have on Joe the average American.
   One Earth Solar recently completed a $150,000 solar installation in Death Valley as a subcontractor for Erick Ammon Inc., the same company that is currently putting the finishing touches on the Slick Rock boat ramp at Lake Kaweah. John Sturdevant, owner of One Earth Solar, said the Death Valley National Park project consisted of installing 120 panels that will generate 21 kilowatts, more power than a typical homeowner would want or need.
   A typical residential installation with onsite or roof panels costs from $30,000 to $40,000. The state rebate and a federal tax credit can reduce out-of-pocket costs by more than $15,000, but that’s still a big commitment for the average homeowner.
   Sturdevant said the solar industry will boom once the owner can sell surplus power at a fair market price. There has been lots of discussion to make solar and wind incentives the cornerstone of an economic recovery package. The next few months will be critical in determining the timetable when solar and wind power will begin to reap their full economic potential.
   In the meantime, Sturdevant said, he’s expanding his company’s horizons by pursuing new contracts in the Reno-Lake Tahoe area.

  “In the solar industry, we have to be willing to go to where there’s work, but my heart will always be here in Three Rivers where I started in this business,” Sturdevant said.

Polar Dip 2009

   In 2002, when Marcos Guzman persuaded a few friends to take a New Year’s Day plunge in the chilly pools next to the Gateway Restaurant, he never could have foreseen the implications of his dip. For each successive January 1, a few more hearty souls braved the chilly sub-40-degree waters.
   That seemingly simple act symbolized the establishment of a tradition and an annual event that now has become indispensable for celebrating the New Year in Three Rivers. In 2005, Marcus moved back to the Central Coast, but the legacy of his Polar Dip has thrived.
   For the next couple of years, folks from the flatlands heard about Three Rivers’s annual New Year’s Day plunge on KJUG radio and in The Fresno Bee, ensuring that the popularity of the Polar Dip and daylong party grew by leaps and bounds. In 2009, more than 70 revelers took the plunge.

Weekly tip

   We live in a world polluted by toxins. We’re exposed to pesticides and carcinogens in the foods we eat and the clothes we wear; in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the substances we use to clean our houses. The deadly chemical cocktail building up in our bodies is causing us great harm, manifesting itself in everything from asthma to cancer.
   Rethinking how we clean our homes is a logical place to begin the process of reducing health risks associated with pollutants. By eliminating or reducing the use of many common household cleaners — laundry and dishwashing detergents, glass and tile cleaners, air fresheners, furniture polish, carpet shampoo, cleanser, furniture polish, oven cleaner, ammonia, pine cleaner, chlorine bleach — we can provide our families with a much healthier life.
   Cleaning is a necessity. How you clean, on the other hand, is entirely up to you. Making small, everyday improvements can yield powerful long-term benefits.
   There are many books and online resources to assist you in improving indoor air quality whether doing the dishes, cleaning the countertops, scouring the tub and shower, vacuuming and dusting, deodorizing carpets, washing and drying clothes, polishing furniture, keeping your pets clean and healthy, or all of the above and more.
   Your home is your safe haven. It should be an inviting atmosphere, but also the cleanest, healthiest setting possible. After all, it’s where you spend the most time.


2008 in retrospect

   Over the next two weeks or so, THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH will summarize the news and features that appeared on its pages during 2008. With over 700 issues in nearly 14 years, the Year in Review is part of what is now a local tradition.

   January 4—A few dozen revelers took the annual New Year’s Day plunge in the pools adjacent to the Gateway Restaurant. The throng of onlookers and dippers has been growing steadily each year since Marcos Guzman talked a small group of locals into taking the first plunge in 2002. One polar dipper said she heard about the event on KJUG radio. At least one on-air personality tried to refer to the event as the “Polar Bear Dip,” but get real, flatlanders, even if the water temperature is 38 degrees, no self-respecting Polar Bear would be persuaded to make an appearance when it’s sunny with air temperatures in the upper 60s.
   THE CAMPAIGN FOR Measure C kicked into high gear as the Feb. 5 California primary election loomed right around the corner. If the measure mustered the necessary 55 percent, it would fund several improvements for Woodlake High School, backers said.
   January 11—An intense winter storm on January 6 nearly doubled the local snowpack in one 24-hour period. The January 1 snowpack in the nearby mountains had been recorded at 61 percent of normal, but the latest storm revised those totals upward to 111 percent.
   TIM HIRE, SUPERINTENDENT of Woodlake schools, issued a series of statements that helped to clarify the term of collection of Measure C’s general obligation bonds should voters approve the measure. Hire said the terms had been reduced from 40 years to 25 years contrary to what had been printed in some sample ballots.
   FOGGY CONDITIONS RETURNED to the flatlands and the first really good cross country skiing conditions of the season were being reported on the trails around Wuksachi and Lodgepole. Local kayakers took advantage of rising water levels to run some rapids on the Kaweah River.
   THE FRESNO REGIONAL Foundation adopted Woodlake to make some of their grant money available to residents of that Tulare County community. The grant money, administered through the Woodlake Family Resource Center, was used to purchase heaters, blankets, and sweaters for low income families. The local resource center also provided hundreds of lunches and gift bags for needy families. The philanthropic foundation made grants to the Woodlake community in 2006 and 2007.
   January 18—Woodlake High School boosters conducted a special informational meeting in Three Rivers on January 15 to brief taxpayers in the district how Measure C would work if it received the necessary 55 percent on the February 5 ballot. Tim Hire said that passing the measure would only make a good school better that presently sends more than 50 percent of its students to college.
   A TRAGIC HEAD-on collision on Hwy. 65 killed two Exeter women. The two deceased women were members of the same family that had ties to St. Anthony Retreat in Three Rivers.
   FROM THE WHY-we-live-here file, the Valley remained shrouded in dense Tule fog while Three Rivers basked in day after day of glorious sunshine. Forecasters said there was no end in sight for fog in the flatlands or the picture-perfect days in the foothills above Lake Kaweah.
   January 25—In the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, Jan. 24, two inches of snow accumulated at and around Three Rivers in elevations below 1,000 feet. Three Rivers residents went to bed that previous night listening to rain and awoke to a white winter wonderland.
   LOCAL AUTHOR, JAY O’Connell released his latest book Train Robber’s Daughter: The Melodramatic Life of Eva Evans, 1876-1970. The early reviews praised the work of local history as the author combined all the key elements to create the ultimate biography. The book was the result of more than a decade of research that was started by the author when he published a series in the Commonwealth on Evans and Sontag, Tulare County’s most infamous outlaws. O’Connell, who works in the television industry, said he hopes one day that the epic story will become a major motion picture.
   A FEATURE WAS published about the exploits of Cal Fire captain Derek Staberg. Staberg, who was raised in Three Rivers and currently resides in Lemon Cove, drove his Fully Involved drag boat to a bracket championship in the NJBA 2007 series at Lake Ming near Bakersfield.

   February 1—On January 28, a backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche on the Pear Lake ski trail. It was the first avalanche-related fatality for Sequoia National Park. The skier was buried in a slide and died after being pinned near a large tree. A companion later told rescuers that he was able to uncover the victim but he was deceased by the time was body was exposed. The skiers were attempting to return to Wolverton after spending a night at the Pear Lake Ski Hut. On the return trip, the two men were caught in a blizzard and were not able to follow the existing trail.
   DUI WAS A factor in a North Fork crash that resulted in a solo vehicle rollover. The driver was a 29-year-old Three Rivers woman who complained of pain at the scene and was transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital for treatment.
   A MOTORCYCLIST WAS injured in a solo spin-out accident that occurred January 26 on Dry Creek Drive. The injured man was transported to the hospital in the back of a pickup truck that stopped to help the victim.
   THE CURRENT SNOWPACK measured 68 inches at the stake in Lodgepole. The last week of January featured a series of cold, wet Pacific storms.
   February 8—Measure C, Woodlake High School’s $4.5 million bond issue was passed as it garnered 62 percent in the February 5 California primary election. Republican presidential hopeful John McCain won big in Tulare County while senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama divided the Democratic votes in a very close race.
   THE RECENT STORMY weather knocked out the Three Rivers cable TV connection during the February 3 broadcast of the Super Bowl. Dozens of local football fans were sent scurrying to nearby locales that were watching the annual spectacle via satellite. The cable TV provider restored local service on Super Tuesday; two days after a damaged transmitter caused the outage.
   A MOTORIST CRASHED into the corner of the eighth-grade classroom building at Three Rivers School. The area had been vacated of students an hour earlier and nobody was injured in the accident. A 32-year-old Woodlake man was arrested for DUI. A CHP officer said the driver might have passed out while he was behind the wheel.
   A 37-YEAR-old Exeter motorist was injured in an accident that occurred near Horse Creek at Lake Kaweah. The woman told the CHP that she lost control while she was reaching for something in the front seat and that caused her to careen 40 feet down an embankment. She was transported to Kaweah Delta for treatment of her injuries.
   February 15—Updated numbers in the recent primary election revealed that 50 percent of the voters turned out in Three Rivers and Woodlake; that total far exceeded the 39 percent for the rest of Tulare County. Among Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton defeated Obama in six of seven local precincts. Only Ash Mountain Democrats cast a decisive majority for Obama.
   BURGLARS TARGETED SEVERAL Three Rivers homes for break-ins. In one South Fork case, a flat screen TV and other expensive electronic items were stolen.
   WOODLAKE KIWANIS ANNOUNCED its annual honorees for 2007. Greg Gonzalez was named Man of the Year and Tori Johnson was the female honoree. Spirit of Woodlake awards went to Robert and Jackie Harris-Groeber of Three Rivers. The newly-remodeled Substation was named Business of the Year.
   NORM AND CONNIE Pillsbury announced that they had sold Silver City Resort, a Mineral King area mountain retreat to Philip and Kalina Bay. Forrest Jones, Connie’s son who was raised at Silver City in the summers, was named the general manager.
   February 22—Another break-in was reported several miles up the North Fork. In that burglary, three firearms and other miscellaneous property were missing.
   ON FEBRUARY 19, a Chevy pick-up was totaled when it left the roadway near Horse Creek and rolled over several times. A CHP officer at the scene said the cause was pending until an investigation of the solo-vehicle accident could be completed.
   CHP INVESTIGATORS DETERMINED that the driver who crashed into Three Rivers School had a blood alcohol of .24, more than three times the legal limit. School personnel said it was a miracle that no children were there when the crash occurred.
   NICK SIMONIAN, AN industrial technology student from Three Rivers in the master’s program at Fresno State, demonstrated aerial digital imagery at the 41st annual World Ag Expo. Simonian said there are many applications for model airplanes equipped with cameras including practical cost-saving uses for farmers.
   AS OF FEBRUARY 21, the storage at Lake Kaweah was 24,176 acre feet. Dam tenders made large releases in the event of more winter storms.
   February 29—Tulare County Fire Department units responded to a propane explosion and structure fire at Montecito-Sequoia Lodge in Giant Sequoia National Monument. The explosion leveled a building used by employees as living quarters. Don Anderson was asleep on the first floor of the building when he was awakened by the blast that caused the upper floor to collapse on his room. Thanks to a fellow worker who gave Anderson verbal instructions where to go to escape, the slightly-injured victim was able to crawl out alive.
   A THREE RIVERS couple was targeted in a bad check scam. Investigators told the intended victims that if they paid a fee to cash a big check they would have been out the fee and would have had to pay back the amount of the phony check.
   SUPERVISOR ALLEN ISHIDA announced he would be seeking a second term for the District 1 seat on the county Board of Supervisors. His opponent on the June 3 ballot would be Guy Christian, a former CDF employee currently assigned to the Tulare County District Attorney’s office.

   March 7—A Visalia fisherman entered the water from a small boat that was sinking and drowned in the chilly water of Lake Kaweah. Several would-be rescuers, including one of the man’s companions, attempted to pull him to shore but were not successful. The drowning occurred only 100 yards from shore. One of the would-be rescuers said the water was so cold that he couldn’t breathe so had to let go of the 46-year-old victim in fear for his own life. Divers recovered the body of the victim in 25 feet of water a few hours later. Reportedly, none of the three men were wearing lifejackets, but the 14-foot boat was equipped with flotation devices.
   A HEADLINE PROCLAIMED: “It’s official: there’s lots of snow.” It was referring to a six-foot snow pack that was still extant in elevations above 7,000 feet. The above-average snowpack produced some of the best cross-country skiing in more than decade. The water content was the best news of all; it was measured at 130 percent of normal in the Southern Sierra.
   A LEMON COVE resident lost control of his 2004 Mustang in the S-curve on Sierra Drive near Pumpkin Hollow (between the Mineral King Road and Gateway bridge). The car collided with a rock and, as usual when it’s car versus rock, the rock won. The young male motorist, who was going to work, was not hurt in the crash.
   March 14—The publishers of The Kaweah Commonwealth announced: “We’ve got issues.” What they were referring to was that March 1 marked another anniversary (13 years and counting) of doing the local newspaper and that this was the 665th issue of the longest, continuously-published newspaper in the history of Three Rivers.
   SWIFTWATER TRAINING EXPERT Sean Johnson conducted a two-day certification class for five local emergency response personnel near Hawk Hollow on the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. The rising whitewater assured that trained whitewater rescue personnel would be in demand during the upcoming river rafting and swimming season.
   SUPERVISOR ALLEN ISHIDA briefed a packed Three Rivers town meeting on how the new ambulance plan would work. He said the county’s current six providers will divide up the calls with the Three Rivers Ambulance to remain as the main local provider.

  “Nothing will change for Three Rivers for the time being but we’re hopeful of slightly better response times,” Ishida said.
   March 21—A visitor from Alabama was walking along the river in the vicinity of Hospital Rock and nearly drowned when he slipped into the turgid whitewater of the Kaweah River. After being swept downstream for 75 feet, the 50-something victim was able to pull himself to safety. The near-drowning was testimony that melting snow was making all local waterways extremely dangerous.   Officials at Sequoia National Park reminded everyone that drowning is the leading cause of death in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   THE NATIONAL PARK Service reported an increase of nearly 3 million visitors nationwide. At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, both units reported modest increases. Together, more than 1.5 million visits were recorded for both parks.
   A POT-GROWING site that was taken out in 2004 was restored after law enforcement officials and resources staff completed a week-long project of a 4.6-acre site near the Colony Mill Road in the upper North Fork drainage within the boundaries of Sequoia National Park. Park personnel used National Guard helicopters to remove 5,600 pounds of garbage that included 75 propane canisters and nearly six miles of garden hose.
   March 28—A woman who was fishing in the upper Lake Kaweah basin had to be rescued after she fell in the cold lake water and couldn’t pull herself out. The female victim told rescuers at the scene that she became trapped in a swift eddy in four feet of water.  Her companion managed to climb out on a rock above the woman and extend a dog leash for her to hold onto until help arrived. After  Three Rivers firefighters arrived they were able to pull the trapped victim to safety.
   RANGER DAN PONTBRIAND arrived at Three Rivers and assumed the vacant position of Sequoia district ranger. Pontbriand, formerly the Chief of Emergency Services for all national parks, said the Sequoia job offered him the opportunity to return to the field where he can more effectively use his skills. His new post makes him second in command to Chief Ranger J.D. Swed. He said he will relish his time at Sequoia because he can use his full complement of search-and-rescue experience and maybe enjoy a little backpacking in his time off.

   April 4—The Three Rivers Lions announced that their Recognition Night honoree would be Estelle Christensen. The recognition was long overdue according to a local Lion who said Estelle was being honored for her tireless community service for the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, St. Clair’s Altar Society, and the fact that she helps out nearly everyday somewhere.

  “It’s really not difficult doing what I do when you so thoroughly enjoy it and work with such great people,” Estelle said. “In this town, we just move from plate to plate and glass to glass and count our blessings along the way.”
   SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON officials announced that after considering several alternatives the utility provider preferred the Lemon Cove route for a proposed transmission line expansion. The new line, called the San Joaquin Valley Loop Project, consists of the construction of a 19-mile, double-circuit, 220-kilovolt line, which would allow SCE to deliver additional power from the company’s Big Creek hydrostation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Rector substation southeast of Visalia.
   AFTER A VERY encouraging start to the local precipitation season, March proved to be one of the driest on record. Air quality continued to be mostly good.
   April 11—The 35th annual Jazzaffair commenced on this day. In 1977, what was written in the San Luis Obispo Press Telegram was still mostly true. “Three Rivers, a hamlet in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is not a likely spot to find a Dixieland Jazz group…” The article was referring, of course, to the High Sierra Jazz Band, the host group since 1977 for the popular jazz festival. They’re like the Energizer bunny, said one jazz fan, they keep going, and playing, and going, and playing…
   A THREE RIVERS motorist apparently didn’t see a motorcycle in the westbound lane when attempting to make a left turn into the River View Restaurant and Lounge parking lot and caused the driver of the Harley Davidson to lock up his brakes. The bike, its driver, and a passenger came crashing down onto the pavement. The driver was unhurt but a female passenger was injured when she was thrown from the rear of the motorcycle. The injured victim was transported via the Three Rivers Ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia.
   LOTS OF FOLKS right here in Three Rivers were going green. The annual Earth Day in 2008, to be commemorated Tuesday, April 22, couldn’t be more timely, boosters said, because we all need to dedicate ourselves to taking better care of our planet because it’s the only one we have…
   April 18—Events planned around Earth Day 2008 highlighted ways locals and businesses were working for a more Earth-friendly Three Rivers. Flora Bella Farm, for example, was started in 1989 when the Birch family came to Three Rivers and offered locally grown, certified organic produce long before most folks even thought about going green. “The produce was grown with no carbon imprint… organic, no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, yet many preferred to drive to the big city to purchase their produce,” Bettina Birch wrote in an email. “I guess it just wasn’t the in thing to do in 1989.”
   DURING A VISIT to Three Rivers, Woodlake’s police chief John Zapalac, who resides in Lemon Cove, announced that he was again a candidate for Tulare County Sheriff. Chief Zapalac, who waged a hard-fought campaign but lost in 2006, said it wasn’t too soon to start working on his 2010 campaign.
   April 25—The Three Rivers Lions and ACTRA (American Cowboys Team Roping Association) teamed up to stage the 59th annual Lions Team Roping. Touted as the “Biggest Little Roping in the West,” the four-day event was expected to run nearly 2,000 teams through Lions Arena and furnish a big boost to local tourism and fundraising.
   IN THE SPIRIT of compromise and in an attempt to be a good neighbor, the owner of Lemon Cove Granite asked county planners to downsize the scope of the proposed expansion of the local mining operation. The Tulare County Planning Commission voted 4-0 for a continuance so that staff could prepare a final EIR that addressed a smaller, more community-friendly operation.
   AFTER AN UNSEASONABLY dry March and April, conditions proved perfect on April 23 for burning debris piles in Giant Forest. The burns targeted three acres that contained piles that resulted from a mechanical thinning project completed in 2007.

   May 2—National Park Service rangers and members from a multi-agency task force located and removed 7,922 pot plants, many still waiting to be transplanted at an isolated grow site in Sequoia National Park. The officers flushed at least two suspects from one newly established camp but they eluded capture by scampering down a steep drainage below the grow site.
   Camp Zap, now a Woodlake-Lemon Cove institution, marked its 10th year of providing weekend retreats for Woodlake and other teens from several Tulare County communities including Three Rivers. The camp, a brainchild of Woodlake’s police chief John Zapalac, has made a significant dent in local juvenile crime by keeping lots of kids from getting into trouble and becoming entangled in the legal system. Since 1999, when Chief Zap started to play host to the seasonal campouts, thousands of school-age kids have participated. For many, it’s the first night they ever slept in a tent or received any positive reinforcement from an adult in a position of authority.
   BOB BURKE OF Three Rivers was honored as a high school “Teacher of the Year.” Burke was in his 33rd year as a history and psychology teacher in the Visalia Unified School District.
   May 9—Snow totals that in January were touting the Kaweah drainage as containing more than 110 percent of normal revealed a far different situation May 1. The revised totals showed that the Kaweah drainage, due to a parched March and April, contained only 67 percent of normal and there would be a lot less water in tributaries of the Kaweah River than earlier projected.
   TULARE COUNTY OFFICIALS announced that seven river rafting companies had obtained permits to commercially run the Kaweah River during the 2008 season. Seasoned outfitters predicted that there would be at least four or five good weeks for commercial trips.
   A GALLON OF regular gas in Three Rivers cost $3.99 and it was only until the next delivery that the price was predicted to jump to new all-time highs above the $4-per-gallon threshold.
   A THREE RIVERS teen en route to classes at Woodlake High School broadsided another vehicle that suddenly made a U-turn on Sierra Drive. Three were injured in the crash, including the drivers of both vehicles.
   THE WOODLAKE LIONS announced that Frank Ainley of Elderwood would be this year’s Grand Marshal of the Woodlake Rodeo Parade. Frank — who was raised in Elderwood and is an alumnus of, and retired teacher and coach from, Woodlake High School — has always said the best thing he ever did in his life was marry a Three Rivers gal.
   May 16— Following a blessing from Bishop John T. Steinbock, officials, politicos, and celebrities broke ground on the Santa Teresita Youth Center at St. Anthony Retreat. The new center, which has a $5.5 million budget, will consist of six structures, including student dorms, assembly building, crafts building, swimming pool, chapel, and amphitheater. The lead contractor for the project is Jeff Blagg of Tulare. “We are so fortunate to have this team onboard to complete the project,” said Father John Griesbach, St. Anthony director. “The contractors have all pledged to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
   A COUPLE OF would-be burglars pounded on the door of a South Fork residence in an apparent attempt to gain entry. The frantic woman inside, who had a loaded handgun, evidently deterred the duo when she told them she had called the sheriff.
   REIMER’S CANDIES, THREE Rivers’s sweetest landmark, announced that they were opening a second store in Avila Beach. The owners, Lynn and Mary Anne Bretz of Visalia, said they will continue to make the scrumptious product for both stores in Three Rivers and that will mean more local jobs.
   May 23—At 2:30 a.m., a prowler was reported casing the home of a Three Rivers woman who lives alone on the isolated property. The intended victim, who screamed and startled the would-be intruder into fleeing, was shaken and now has installed several new security lights around her property.

  “NO TRESPASSING” SIGNS were posted around a popular swimming hole near Edison Powerhouse No. 2 prior to and during the Memorial Day weekend. The signs were posted to discourage anyone from using the popular swimming hole during peak periods when the place becomes overcrowded, creating parking, litter, and fire hazards. An SCE official said the company wants to continue to provide recreational use at the site and that the closures were only temporary but will be intermittent throughout the summer months.
   VISITORS AND CAVE employees were evacuated and the Crystal Cave area had to be closed after several blasting caps with wires were found in drill holes. Explosive experts determined the old caps had never been detonated so the chief blaster supervised their detonation. The cave, an important source of income for the Sequoia Natural History Association, was reopened after being closed for nearly a week.
   May 30—The Three Rivers Memorial Building was targeted by vandals who took some custom-made pole covers. The covers helped prevent damage to autos that might back into the poles, which protect the rock work around the roadside marquee.
   THE RACES FOR State Assembly and county supervisor topped local ballots for the upcoming June 3 primary election. The frontrunners were Connie Conway, who was running for the Assembly seat and Allen Ishida, who was seeking re-election to his District 1 seat on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.
   AT THE MAY 20 meeting of the county Board of Supervisors, the Redbud Garden Club of Three Rivers received a “Good Works” commendation, which included a cash award as incentive to keep up the good works.

To be continued next week...

   These stories and so much more in the weekly print edition of The Kaweah Commonwealth.


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
© Copyright 2003-2009 The Kaweah Commonwealth