In the News -
Friday, JANUARY 12, 2007
FINISH 2006: THE PLACES
year-end review in photos that, this week, includes the spectacular places
that are Kaweah Country. Last week: THE FACES
While the brightest minds of our time are telling us we need
to act with urgency to counteract global warming, it’s ironic that
here in Kaweah Country we are experiencing the coldest temperatures since
1998 and it may get even colder. The weekend forecast is calling for low
temperatures in Three Rivers around 20, plus or minus a few degrees depending
on elevation and location.
The current blast of Arctic chill has Valley growers scurrying
to cover up field crops and heat orchards, especially the citrus crops
that await picking. The value of that crop, which could literally freeze
in several Valley counties, is estimated at $1 billion.
Forecasters are saying that snow flurries are likely today
even on the Valley floor, especially in some of the coldest locations
like Coalinga, Delano, and Hanford. In Three Rivers, the misty, foggy
conditions on Thursday were the leading edge of a cold front that could
bring record lows to all of California.
The last time that the Central Valley and Sierra foothills
experienced a run of consecutive nights in the low 20s was in 1998. In
1990, the coldest winter in recent years, the area experience several
consecutive nights in the ‘teens.
Preliminary snow survey data for January 1 is available for
the Sacramento drainage. The results of 50 percent of normal are about
what hydrologists expected.
The statewide average (Jan. 1) is projected to be a paltry
19 percent but that could change drastically when all six major drainages,
including the Kaweah, are measured on February 1. Warming water temperatures
in the equatorial Pacific may be indicative of the formation of a late-season
If an El Nino influences local weather in the current season,
look for another miraculous March or an awesome April. Those monster storms,
characteristic of the El Nino years of 1995 and 1998, produce some anxious
moments, but could have Kaweah Country back in the normal range in just
a few short weeks.
Year in Review:
look back at the
quarter of 2006
This is the third and final installment of the annual
Year-in-Review. Here is the news from the last quarter of 2006:
September 1— A midday power outage
lasted nearly three hours and affected several hundred SCE customers in
Three Rivers. A local asphalt contractor hit a power pole on South Fork
Drive and caused the blackout.
Law-enforcement officers were summoned to a residence near
the Three Rivers Cemetery to persuade an aggressive female mountain lion
to leave the area. After several unsuccessful attempts to drive the animal
away, a game warden shot and killed the 80-pound animal.
Gas prices were rumored to be dipping below $3 just in time
for the traditionally long Labor Day weekend.
Guy Moran, 38, of Bakersfield was found dead on the Cannell
Meadow Trail in Sequoia National Forest after failing to return from a
mountain-bike ride. The official cause of death was not immediately known
but dehydration was suspected as a factor.
September 8— Rob Stone, a California
Department of Forestry battalion chief, and Sandy Willett, pilot, were
killed when their spotter plane crashed near Mountain Home State Forest
northeast of Springville. Stone, 36, of Visalia, had been raised in Three
Rivers and was a graduate of Woodlake High School.
Stone, an 18-year veteran firefighter, left behind wife Rindi,
son Wil, 8, and daughter Libbie, 4. Stone’s parents, Cliff and Ginny,
reside in Three Rivers.
Jessie Bequette, formerly a longtime resident of Three Rivers
now living in a Visalia nursing home, turned 100. Jessie is one of two
living members of Woodlake High School’s original 25-member Class
Two men died within a couple of weeks in separate incidents
in the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park. The body of Gregory
Raye, 52, an artist from Campbell, was spotted near the summit of Mount
Conor J. Lighthizer, 28, died while on a backpacking trip
with his father. Lighthizer’s death was attributed to complications
related to Type 1 diabetes.
September 15— Family and friends mourned
the loss of Chief Robert Stone at a service held at the First Assembly
of God Church in Visalia.
Fran Mainella, retiring National Park Service director and
the first woman to serve in this president-appointed position, visited
Sequoia National Park on her farewell tour. Coming to Kaweah Country,
she said, was on her to-do list before she retired.
Three Rivers School went over and beyond its forecast for
improvement in the STAR testing program. Its score of 837 was the school’s
Vandals defaced Tunnel Rock, the Giant Forest Museum, and
several other resources with graffiti. It was the second time in the past
18 months that subjects were arrested in connection with vandalism in
September 22— The story behind a classic
Mineral King painting created about 1890 was revealed by John McWilliams,
a Three Rivers antiquities dealer and curator of the local historical
museum. McWilliams purchased the Sawtooth/Monarch canyon landscape from
the estate of Barbara Carter Milbradt. McWilliams believes that the artwork
may be the oldest surviving painting depicting the Mineral King Valley.
During the fall autumnal equinox, smoke from several fires
in Sequoia National Park remained a lingering problem.
Park officials announced that a new cave was discovered in
Sequoia National Park. The new cave was named Ursa Minor. The location
of the discovery was not made public.
September 29— Three Rivers celebrated
two business milestones: Three Rivers Mercantile held its grand opening,
and Sierra Subs & Salads staged a gala first-anniversary party.
Kathy Casey, the former owner and operator of NAPA Auto Parts
in Three Rivers, joined the staff of the Commonwealth.
October 6— Dozens of Cambodians came
to Sequoia National Park to give their blessing to a historic signing
of a sister parks agreement between the local national parks and Cambodia’s
Samlaut Multiple Use Area. Craig Axtell, Sequoia’s superintendent,
presided over the signing ceremony.
More than 300 volunteers assisted Army Corps of Engineers
staff at the seventh annual National Public Lands Day held at Lake Kaweah.
The volunteers spent several hours picking up trash, painting, and doing
maintenance on the last Saturday in September.
October 13— Two pollsters, who caused
quite a stir one year ago by knocking on doors unannounced up and down
the South Fork, returned to Three Rivers to gather more data for an ongoing
National Study on Drug Usage and Mental Health.
National park fire crews ignited a prescribed fire in Mineral
King. The entire burn project for the season would encompass 354 acres.
Steven Medley, 57, the longtime president of the Yosemite
Association and a resident of Oakhurst, died in a car crash on Highway
140 near El Portal. Medley had served as director of the Yosemite nonprofit
organization since 1985.
Sue Slater of Three Rivers was able to grab $188 worth of
groceries in a mad 60-second dash. Sue won the grub grab with a successful
bid at the Three Rivers Historical Society fundraiser during the All Town
October 20— A Town Hall gathering
examined some hot topics and featured timely discussion on future growth
and the newly created Tulare County Fire Department. Local fire protection
became an urgent topic in the wake of a recent article written by Captain
Steve Green, CDF, in the Commonwealth, in which he was highly critical
of cost-cutting when it came to staffing in the foothill areas like Three
Rivers. In a show of unity, both Chief Sunderland, Tulare County Fire
Department, and CDF Chief Ed Wristen, were in attendance to clarify department
policy and explain the rationale for local coverage.
In the evening’s other program, Jeff Steen, on behalf
of the Tulare County Citizens for Responsible Growth, presented several
scenarios if growth was allowed to proceed unregulated.
The first significant snowfall was recorded in the local
Mary Bomar was sworn in as the 17th director and second woman
to oversee the National Park Service.
October 27— Jack Slater, 45, of Three
Rivers died suddenly in Astoria, Ore. He was a commercial fisherman for
more than two decades.
Supervisor Allen Ishida was appointed chairman of the board
of the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG). TCAG is responsible
for prioritizing and developing local projects that qualify for federal
transportation grant funding and an expenditure plan for how and when
Measure R road tax monies will be used.
Local law enforcement seemed to be making headway in the
war against pot growers in Tulare County. Seizures in 2006 were well behind
the record-setting eradications of the previous two seasons.
November 3— Pat O’Connell, Three
Rivers’s one-man emergency road crew, received an unexpected gift
of gratitude – a new tow truck.
mere thank you to those who contributed just doesn’t seem to be
enough. But nonetheless, I do thank you all sincerely,” wrote Pat.
The weather took a turn for the more seasonal as a low-pressure
system moved through the region.
November 10— Tulare County’s
Measure R appeared to receive just enough votes to pass, though the final
results would not be known until after all the absentee and provisional
votes were counted. In the four-candidate race for three school board
seats, Bobbie Harris, Bob Burke, and Scott Sherwood were the top three
In Woodlake, in the race for three elementary school board
seats, Debi Baker, Joe Hallmeyer, and Joe Martinez were elected. Incumbents
Frances Ortiz, Chuck Ray, and Raul Gonzales retained their city council
Lake Kaweah, at 14,370 acre-feet of storage, was about as
low as it was going to go prior to the onset of the annual rise in the
basin’s elevation during the rainy season.
A recently installed toddlers playground adjacent to the
Three Rivers Library was officially opened.
November 17— Eric Barnes, the son
of the legendary sculptor, was in town to present artifacts from the Barnes
collection to the Three Rivers Historical Museum. The artifacts that were
donated include the chisel used to carve Paul Bunyan.
Erratic weather seemed to be everywhere in the nation except
in Three Rivers. Sunshine with mild temperatures around 70 degrees were
in the Thanksgiving Day forecast.
Sunny Fields, owner of the Whitewater Gallery in Three Rivers
and breast cancer survivor, accepted a $1,500 check on behalf of the Breast
Cancer Research Foundation. The check was presented by Van Bailey of the
Three Rivers Lions Club, which raised the funds during its Tough Enough
to Wear Pink Day at the 2006 Three Rivers Team Roping.
November 24— Patrick Courtney of Tulare
was arraigned on two counts of homicide and three counts of arson and
was facing the possibility of a third strike conviction. The charges stemmed
from the plane crash that killed Battalion Chief Rob Stone and Sandy Willett.
Diana Zigangirova, an exchange student at Woodlake High from
Tajikistan, told her story in a series of presentations that she made
to help Americans learn more about her country. Part of Diana’s
mission was also to experience what a democracy was like so she could
share the lessons learned with people back home.
The new owners and extended family of the recently opened
Hummingbird Café gave thanks for being in Three Rivers and celebrated
a milestone in the restaurant’s history – they were permitted
to serve beer and wine.
December 1— Brrr… It’s
been cold! Kaweah Country experienced a cold snap reminiscent of the one
that destroyed a big part of the local citrus industry in the early 1990s.
Temperatures in the predawn hours dipped into the 20s for several consecutive
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks released their long-awaited
General Management Plan. The 600-page document contains a rivers management
strategy, detailed environmental impact statement, and an appendix containing
copies of written public comments.
December 8— Reimer’s Candies
thieves helped themselves to several hundred dollars worth of pre-wrapped
candy and cookies. The thieves gained access to the goodies by smashing
a side window. The owners, Lynn and Mary Anne Bretz, offered a $250 reward
for information leading to the conviction of the candy culprits.
Bill Tidwell, a charter board member, received a ceremonial
plaque for 15 years of outstanding service from the Woodlake High School
Foundation. Tidwell was retiring as a voting member of the board but will
stay on as an advisor and to help with scholarships.
December 15— The reciprocal training
with Samlaut, Sequoia’s sister park in Cambodia, unofficially started
when local rangers Jody Lyle and Erik Oberg visited with their Cambodian
counterparts. During their working vacation, the duo spent six days at
Local firefighters sold Christmas trees at Three Rivers Mercantile.
Proceeds from the sales were donated to the Three Rivers Volunteer Fire
December 22— One adult and two juveniles
were arrested in various Valley locales to face charges connected with
the recent burglary at Reimer’s Candies. Detectives said the reward
was instrumental in the tip that implicated the trio.
A fire that started in the attic destroyed the home of Salvador
and Herminia Arias just east of Woodlake. The wood-shingle bungalow was
built in about 1910 as a grove house and was currently owned by Sun Pacific,
a farming company.
A TKC newspaper box was stolen from its Cherokee Oaks location.
December 29— An anonymous donor purchased
an antique mailbox on eBay that looked very similar to the one stolen
from the Kaweah Post Office in February 2006.
It was donated to the historic post office and installed
by Dave King back on its perch on the porch.
The TKC newspaper box was found and returned by a Three Rivers
mom who was walking along the river with her kids. Evidently, vandals
tossed it off the North Fork Bridge.
All dates cited are the issues in which specific articles
were published, not when an event occurred. Archived issues may be requested
and are available for $1 each.
If it’s a new year, then it must
time to file for financial aid
by Sally Pace
January and February are busy months for parents of high
school seniors and eighth-graders. Senior parents should be getting ready
to file their FAFSA and eighth-grade parents should be starting to plan
for high school registration.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA; www.fafsa.ed.gov)
is the basic application for state and federal financial aid. In California,
the filing priority deadline is March 2. The FAFSA can be submitted beginning
Jan. 1, 2007.
The Cal Grant website is www.csac.ca.gov or call 1-888-224-7268.
You will also need to submit the FAFSA for California Grants as well as
for most scholarships.
All students who are attending college should fill out a
FAFSA whether they are eligible or not. Parents and students should start
getting their finances in order for 2006 right away.
Get a PIN (personal identification number used as an electronic
signature) and plan on attending the FAFSA parent workshop at Woodlake
High School, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m. Another option
is to attend the Cash for College workshop, sponsored by College of the
To attend the COS workshop, call 730-3870 to register or
log onto firstname.lastname@example.org. These financial-aid workshops are the
very best way to get accurate information from professional volunteers/staff
who understand the financial aid process. To get a PIN, go to www.pin.ed.gov.
Write down the PIN for both parents and student and keep it in a very
safe place. It will be used again in subsequent years and losing your
PIN will cause delays.
The priority filing deadline for the FAFSA is not until March
2, but it is recommended that you get your application in as soon as you
have accurate financial information. It is also recommended that you file
If you must file an estimate, this is acceptable but you
will need to make revisions when your income tax information is finalized.
All changes can cause delays.
If you are a small-business owner, there are some changes
this year that may be to your advantage. Make sure you check out the Cal
Grant website for the latest information.
The college that your child will be attending is the final
grantor of the financial aid, so it is important that your child have
some idea of where they will be attending college. This can be a problem
because many colleges will not be notifying students who are admitted
until April 1.
It is always a good idea to also list COS as one of the schools,
so if your child does ultimately attend COS, their information will be
on file. Your child will not have to make their final college decision
until May and the finances can play a big part in where they will eventually
College is expensive and it is the parents’ responsibility
until the student is 24 years old. Consider it a great investment.
Many shy away from taking out an education loans, but they
don’t have any problem taking out a loan for a $30,000 car!
You have to look at the return for your investment. After
you pay off the car loan, all you have is an old car. When your education
is paid off, you have something no one can ever take away from you, as
well as higher-earning potential.
If you qualify for government-subsidized loans — in
which the interest is paid for by the government until six months after
your child leaves school — your student may be much better off taking
out a loan instead of working part-time, which may cause them to lose
their financial aid due to earning too much money.
Parents of eighth-graders will be starting their high school
adventure beginning in February. The Woodlake High School counseling staff
will be giving two presentations for parents: Thursday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m.,
at the Woodlake High School Performing Arts Building, and Thursday, Feb.
8, 6 p.m., in the McDowall Auditorium at Three Rivers School.
Before the parent meeting, students will receive a presentation
during the school day about high school classes as well as extracurricular
activities. The Woodlake High counseling staff will start registration
for the 2007-2008 school year at Woodlake Valley Middle School during
the week of January 29 and at Three Rivers and Stone Corral during the
week of February 5.
Parents may call if they want to have an individual appointment
with a counselor.
And, finally, remember: Eighth-graders are sure that their
parents don’t know much about much and they may start discouraging
you from being involved in their lives. That is, unless they need a ride,
a signature, or money.
Parents, please remain persistent and STAY INVOLVED! Your
children will thank you when they are over 25.