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In the News - Friday, January 16, 2009


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

3R man shot

    On Thursday, Jan. 8, at 11:30 p.m., Tulare County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to Three Rivers upon receiving a report of an armed assault. Upon arrival, deputies discovered that an attempted robbery had taken place during which time Christopher Landstrom, 22, received a single gunshot wound.
   Detectives from the Tulare County Violent Crimes Unit then responded to the scene and in the course of their investigation discovered an indoor marijuana garden. Detectives from department’s STEP (Sheriff’s Tactical Enforcement Patrol) team then became involved in the case.
   Landstrom was treated at Kaweah Delta where his injuries were determined to be non-life threatening.

YEAR IN REVIEW: A look back at 2008

If you read just one newspaper all year long,

this should be the one!

   This is the second installment of the Year in Review 2008. Part One appeared in the January 9 issue.

(Only in the print edition: List of 2008 Neighbor Profiles and their quotable quotes; "Saying goodbye: Our dearly departed"; the 2008 Best of Kaweah Country list of winners; and annual Kaweah Kalendar with 2009 dates.)

  June 6— In the June 3 primary election, Supervisor Allen Ishida, District 1 incumbent, retained his seat with 73.97 percent of the votes over Guy Christian’s 25.50 percent. Connie Conway, chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, won the Republican race for the 34th State Assembly District.
   TOPICS ON THE monthly town meeting agenda included the countywide ambulance services contract, an update from a Bureau of Land Management planner regarding the future of the North Fork recreation sites, Kaweah River rafting, law enforcement during the visitor season, and a Park Service update.
   THE FOURTH CLASS of service dogs graduated from the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center in Woodlake.
   WOODLAKE HIGH SENIORS graduated on the evening of Friday, June 6. The Class of 2008 received nearly $300,000 in scholarships.
   WEATHER WAS SUNNY and clear with daytime highs around 90 and lows around 60.
   June 13—A single-vehicle, rollover accident occurred on North Fork Drive where so many have happened before. Nobody was injured in the crash of a 2003 GMC Sierra pickup that the CHP said was driving southbound on North Fork Drive in excess of 55 mph when the driver failed to negotiate a curve and lost control. The vehicle landed on its roof in a private residence’s driveway. The 19-year-old driver was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
   ON JUNE 9, rangers eradicated a pot-growing site on North Fork Drive within the boundaries of Sequoia National Park. More than 6,000 plants at least three feet in height were removed from the well-developed site by a ranger-led task force. This was the third raid in Sequoia this season.
   TULARE COUNTY SHERIFF Bill Wittman was in attendance at the June 9 town meeting to hear concerns from Three Rivers residents about trespassing, break-ins and burglaries, vandalism, and littering that escalates in the area as the weather warms.
   THE TEMPERATURE WAS forecast to reach 100 degrees on June 14.
   LAW-ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS were searching for a hit-and-run driver who struck a 46-year-old Visalia man riding his bicycle on Highway 198 west of Avenue 324 in Lemon Cove. The cyclist was struck by the side mirror of what he believed to be a white Dodge king-cab pickup. The man received moderate injuries.
   SIX THREE RIVERS students graduated from Exeter High on Friday, June 6. On Wednesday, June 4, 31 eighth-graders graduated from Three Rivers School.
   June 20—Jon Lentz, 39, who was raised in Three Rivers, was killed Saturday, June 14, in a single-vehicle accident on Highway 198 near Old Three Rivers Drive.
   THREE PEOPLE WERE stranded on a small island in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River near Kaweah Park Resort and required a technical rescue to be returned to the mainland.
   A SPECIAL TOWN meeting was scheduled to host Sheriff Bill Wittman, who would be outlining his plan to increase law enforcement in Three Rivers during the Fourth of July weekend and the busy summer season.
   SHYAN SOUZA, 15, of Three Rivers competed in the California High School Rodeo State Finals in breakaway roping.
   RACHEL MAZUR, BEAR management specialist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, wrote a children’s book entitled If You Were a Bear. The book was published by the Sequoia Natural History Association.
   A 192-acre prescribed fire was ignited by the Park Service in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Parks. In 2008, Sequoia-Kings Canyon commemorated 40 years of prescribed fire.
   June 27—A Mineral King wilderness bill to create the new 69,500-acre John Krebs Wilderness, honoring former San Joaquin Valley congressman John Krebs was awaiting approval in the Senate.
   THREE RIVERS AND Valley residents were dealing with smoky conditions from wildfires in the northern part of the state.
   NEW LAWS WOULD go into effect on July 1. One made it illegal for teens to use a cell phone or any other wireless device while operating a motor vehicle. Adults would now be required to use a hands-free device when using a cell phone in the car.
   THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH announced the addition of menus to its restaurant listings online.
   A THREE RIVERS HOME on Kaweah River Drive was featured in the June issue of Sunset magazine.

   July 4—Pat O’Connell, the only towing operator in Three Rivers, announced that he would be discontinuing that operation due to the rising cost of insurance. In business in Three Rivers since 1964, Pat O’Connell, 81, still would offer minor automotive repair work, tire work, and lockout services.
   TULARE COUNTY SHERIFF Bill Wittman addressed the town meeting audience once again to reassure residents that his department had committed additional resources to Three Rivers during the busy summer months when the town is crowded with out-of-town visitors.
   A SATELLITE IMAGE showed the drift of smoke settling over the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra foothills and mountains from wildfires that were burning throughout the state.
   DAYTIME TEMPERATURES DURING the week following the Fourth of July were hovering just above the century mark.
   July 11—Upon leaving the store, a Three Rivers Drug customer noticed a flame on the roof of the building that also contains Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant. Firefighters responded immediately and doused the fire. The cause was undetermined. Two days later, a blaze broke out in the vicinity of the Western Holiday Lodge. The fire, which also was quickly extinguished, was believed to have started from a spark from a power pole that ignited the dry grass below.
   ARMY SPECIALIST BRYAN Wagner, who was seriously injured in Iraq, returned to his family’s Mehrten Valley home, where he was greeted with a hero’s welcome. Bryan was a paid-call firefighter with the Tulare County Fire Department, stationed at the Lemon Cove Fire Station.
   SEVEN MOSQUITO SAMPLES collected in the Visalia area tested positive for West Nile virus.
   WARD ELDREDGE, MUSEUM curator for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks at the Ash Mountain headquarters, compiled more than 200 historic black-and-white images and researched and wrote their description for the latest addition to the Images of America series entitled “Sequoia National Park.” All proceeds from the sales of these books are being donated to the Sequoia Natural History Association.
   SEQUOIA AND KINGS Canyon National Parks participated in the system-wide “Climate Friendly Parks Initiative” to provide an interactive education on how to reduce carbon emissions and promote awareness about climate change.
   FIRE RESTRICTION IN Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks went into effect Friday, July 11.
   DAYTIME TEMPERATURES REMAINED in the upper 90s with afternoon thunderstorms occurring in the Sierra.
   July 18—An underground cable failed in Cherokee Oaks on July 11, which caused an extensive power outage from Three Rivers to Sequoia National Park. More than 1,000 customers were affected, including businesses, many of which had to close early. The area remained without electricity for about four hours, until 9 p.m., but a Cherokee Oaks neighborhood and some South Fork residents were without power until the next morning.
   THE LOCAL PARK Service announced that plans had been approved for the rehabilitation of the next two sections of the Generals Highway. The sections of roadway scheduled for work include the 1.5-mile section from Amphitheater Point to Deer Ridge and 8.5 miles between Wolverton Road and the Little Baldy area.
   KACIE FLEEMAN WON the 13-and-under class of the Pinto World Championship-All Around held in June in Tulsa, Okla. Shyan Souza qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals following her performance at the state level.
   MAMADY “WADABA” KOUROUMA, a Malinke drummer from Three Rivers, released his second CD, “Sabari.” The CD was recorded in Wadaba’s ancestral village of Oroko in Guinea.    Eighteen artists contributed to the CD, which includes traditional west African songs with flutes and drumming. The CD comes with a 12-page booklet that includes the history of the songs, the Malinke lyrics, and their English translation.
   July 25—The Sequoia Shuttle, which began its second summer season of service on May 21, reported that it was experiencing an 11-percent increase in readership.
   A 40-YEAR-OLD Tulare man on a family outing drowned while swimming at the Slick Rock area of Lake Kaweah. The fatality was the second drowning of the season in the area around Three Rivers and Lake Kaweah. On June 23 in Kings Canyon National Park, a woman drowned in the Kings River nearly Boyden Cave after falling from her kayak.
   A 26-YEAR-old park visitor required rescue from above the Roaring River Falls scenic overlook in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. He and his companions had ventured off-trail and up-river from the paved trail. The victim fell about 12 feet into Roaring River where he struck a rock and dislocated his shoulder. He was then swept over a 30-foot waterfall before grabbing onto a boulder above Roaring River Falls. His companions called for help and a search-and-rescue ranger was shorthauled to the injured man’s location, then both were flown to a waiting ambulance. According to a Grant Grove ranger, this was the ninth search-and-rescue operation that occurred in Kings Canyon National Park in as many days, six of which were major SARs.
   A SOLO ACCIDENT at 5:45 a.m. on July 24 closed Highway 198 around Lake Kaweah for more than an hour as crews cleared the scene. Only minor injuries were reported.
   AUTHOR AMY RACINA addressed attendees of the 22nd annual Picnic in the Park, sponsored by the Mineral King Preservation Society. Amy’s book, Angels in the Wilderness: The True Story of One Woman’s Survival Against All Odds, describes a 2003 backpacking trip in which she fell 60 feet, landing on a slab of granite. Amy told about her harrowing ordeal and the “angels” who saved her life.
   DIGNITARIES FROM THE National Parks of Thailand were in Sequoia Park to experience firsthand how America’s national parks operate. Thailand has 103 national parks.

   August 1—A major wildand fire, the “Telegraph Fire,” was burning between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park and had consumed nearly 30,000 acres. The fire’s effects were far-reaching as the smoke caused hazy skies in Kaweah Country. More devastating, however, is that the fire had destroyed at least 25 homes. More than 4,000 firefighters battled the blaze that was accidentally sparked by a target-shooter.
   A 5.4-MAGNITUDE earthquake rocked Los Angeles and points east to Nevada and Arizona. More than 50 aftershocks immediately followed.
   THE TULARE COUNTY Planning Commission began its review of the General Plan 2030 Update and its Draft Environmental Impact Report. Significant issues that the county will face in the next 20 years include traffic, air quality, water storage, energy, wastewater, and storm water. The Commission’s vote directed the county planning department to republish the notice of the next round of public hearings.
   ON JULY 25, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that will phase out the use of trans fats in all California restaurants beginning in 2010 and from all baked goods by 2011.
   A WILDLAND FIRE, ignited by lightning, was burning above the Tehipite Valley in Kings Canyon National Park between 5,400 and 7,400 feet in elevation. After the series of lightning storms passed through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, five other fires were also discovered, but were not exhibiting the activity that was being reported on the Tehipite Fire.
   August 8—This issue was solely devoted to the 10th annual Best of Kaweah Country readers’ poll results. This edition of the newspaper, published each summer, highlights the BEST places to see, go, eat, stay, shop, drive, and more. See the list of Best of Kaweah Country 2008 results on page 7 of this week’s issue.
   August 15—Three Rivers School was getting ready to embark on its 80th year. The first day of school was August 20. A short history of Three Rivers schools was provided.
   CONSTRUCTION COMMENCED ON the new boat ramp and parking lot at the Slick Rock Recreation Area at the east end of Lake Kaweah. Recreational users will be able to access both the river and the lake, and the site will have picnic areas and restrooms that will be open year-round from sunrise to 9 p.m. A day-use fee will be collected.
   A GRASS FIRE on upper North Fork Drive threatened a nearby home. The fire was started when a tree fell on power lines, which caused sparks to ignite the dry grass below. Six engines and 12 firefighters responded and kept the fire to a half-acre.
   DAYTIME TEMPERATURES WERE forecast to range from the mid-90s to 100 degrees. The high temperatures had been hovering around the century mark for several weeks.
   LOCAL RACES WOULD be appearing on the ballot for the November 4 presidential election. The Woodlake High School board of trustees would have five candidates, including the two incumbents, vying for two vacant seats. It was announced that an appointment would be made to the Three Rivers School board of trustees as there were two vacant seats, but just one candidate who filed to run.
   THE TEHIPITE FIRE, ignited by a lightning strike in July, had more than doubled in size in the last two weeks, encompassing about 500 acres. The Park Service also reported that the fire had recently jumped the fireline on the southwest side along Tombstone Ridge and was burning toward the Sierra National Forest.
   ONE EARTH SOLAR, owned by John Sturdevant of Three Rivers, adopted a portion of Highway 198 through Three Rivers on which the company was committing to keep clean of litter.
   August 22—A wildfire near Amphitheater Point in Sequoia National Park was ignited by a car that erupted into flames. The fire was quickly extinguished with the assistance of a bucket drop from a helicopter, but the Generals Highway remained closed for two hours while firefighters watched for flare-ups.
   THE TEHIPITE FIRE, burning for more than a month, was now at 1,000 acres with several trail closures in effect. Another lightning-caused blaze in Kings Canyon National Park was burning slowly in a remote area between Cedar Grove and Roaring River.
   THE HUGE STEEL wheels from an old steam traction engine used for dry-farming that sat for years on the Ogilvie property on South Fork Drive at Old Three Rivers Drive were donated to the Three Rivers Historical Society. The wheels were relocated to the Three Rivers Historical Museum.
   GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING songwriters Randy Sharp and Jack Wesley Routh performed a two-hour set at the Three Rivers Arts Center.
   WOODLAKE HIGH SCHOOL senior Jordan Vieira of Three Rivers was selected as the student senator to represent Californi’s 18th Senatorial District at the 2008 session of the “Sacramento Leadership Experience.”
   JA NENE NATURAL Body Products opened its first retail location in Three Rivers at 41667 Sierra Drive. The company is the only manufacturer in Tulare County of natural skincare products sanctioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
   A NEW TULARE County display was created by two second-year architecture students from College of the Sequoias and unveiled before the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. It would soon become part of the display in one of the 58 glass enclosures — one for each of California’s counties — that line the halls of the State Capitol in Sacramento.
   August 29—Tulare County’s code compliance manager, Bruce Kendall, addressed the members of the Tulare County Planning Commission, stating that in Three Rivers and other rural areas where archaic zoning is in need of updating, some property uses that have been in violation are now coming under the county’s radar. Kendall explained that this is because he now has more staff to send out to check on complaints. The county receives more than 800 complaints annually and conducts a monthly average of 16 administrative hearings.
   FIVE COLLEGE STUDENTS from Three Rivers — David Fintel, Devon Ehrlichman, Julia Ehrlichman, Deva DeLisio, and Sharna Yee — discussed their summer trip to Europe. They shared with readers the advantages of the Eurail pass, the cultural diversity of the countries, the similarities and the differences between the U.S. and Europe, and European reflections on Barack Obama, presidential candidate.

   September 5—Overheated brakes while descending the Generals Highway were apparently the cause of a tragic vehicle accident that took the life of a 76-year-old New York man. He and his 67-year-old female companion were visiting Sequoia National Park on the Friday before Labor Day and were returning to Three Rivers when the 1976 GMC converted van camper in which they were traveling left the road, hitting a rock and a tree, below Hospital Rock. The female passenger was treated at Kaweah Delta Hospital and released.
   A 43-YEAR-old male was rescued by Tulare County Fire Department, Cal Fire, and National Park Service personnel after becoming stranded on a ledge in steep terrain between the Mineral King Road and the East Fork of the Kaweah River. The man and his female companion had been camped at the river and the incident occurred when they were climbing out of the rugged canyon. The woman drove to the Tulare County Fire Department’s Three Rivers station to report the incident. A technical rescue lifted the uninjured man to safety.
   APPEARING ON THE November presidential election ballot would be a $28 bond measure for the College of the Sequoias. If approved, campus improvements would include upgrades to the health building, security enhancements, modernization of classrooms, property purchases for future growth, theatre renovations, and match state money to build a new gym.
   THE LABOR DAY holiday weekend marked the end to a very busy July and August in Kaweah Country that featured record numbers of European tourists due to the weak U.S. dollar and gas prices that, although at record highs across the nation, were cheap in comparison to Europe’s.
   DAYTIME TEMPERATURES WERE in the mid to high 90s. There had been no significant rainfall since February.
   ON AUGUST 25, large, orange, helium-filled balloons billowed 150 feet in the air along Highway 198 near Yokohl Valley. The balloons were intended to serve as a visual aid to demonstrate what transmission lines will look like if erected in the area by Southern California Edison Company. The balloons were installed by PACE (“Protect Agriculture, Communities and Environment”), a group formed in opposition to this transmission-line route.
   THE THIRD ANNUAL Smile Train charity bike ride was being organized. Several choices of rides were being offered and cyclists were being enticed to participate in the event with a large array of items that would be included in the silent auction.
   AS PREDICTED, THE Tehipite Fire ignored the park boundary line and crossed into Sierra National Forest, meaning management would now be required by two agencies. The fire, which was ignited by lightning in July, had grown to more than 1,600 acres.
   A COUPLE OF Three Rivers artists were creating works on a large scale. Jana Botkin painted a Sierra scene that would be the backdrop in a display case at the Tulare County Museum in Visalia. Nadi Spencer worked with students, staff, and volunteers at La Sierra High School in Porterville creating two murals for that campus.
   September 12—Two medical emergencies that occurred in Sequoia National Park over the last week required the patients to be airlifted to area hospitals for treatment. One patient appeared to be suffering from ill-effects associated with altitude at Bearpaw High Sierra Camp. He was transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital. In a separate incident, a motorcyclist lost control on the Generals Highway near Potwisha. The male victim was flown by helicopter to Regional Medical Center in Fresno where he was listed in critical condition.
   A WELL LOCATED on the McKee ranch along Old Three Rivers Drive was vandalized while the couple was on an extended tour with the High Sierra Jazz Band of which Earl McKee is a member. The welded well-casing lid had been pried open and rocks and dirt were shoved into the system, causing total failure of the system.
   LATE-AFTERNOON THUNDERSTORMS on September 10 ignited several new fires in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The Tehipite Fire was now approaching 5,000 acres.
   A “HIKING THE Parks” feature entitled “Four lakes in a day” recounted a day hike from Mineral King in Sequoia National Park to Crystal Lakes and Monarch Lakes.
   September 19—There is fall, winter, spring, summer and FIRE SEASON:
   ON SEPTEMBER 15, a property owner operating a tractor on the river side of Dinely Drive sparked a fire that spread rapidly and threatened several nearby homes. Within 15 minutes, the first fire engines arrived and, soon after, park helicopters were making water drops. The fire consumed a total of six acres. More than a dozen engines and aircraft responded. No structures were damaged, and firefighters credit the parks air attack crew with the save.
   CRYSTAL CAVE, A popular Sequoia National Park visitor attraction, was closed due to the Hidden Fire, a rapidly-spreading wildfire burning in the North Fork drainage 12 miles north of Three Rivers. The lightning-caused fire was discovered September 10 and was burning in rugged terrain and consuming heavy fuels at the 6,000-foot elevation level. The fire was being managed by an interagency fire management team. A meeting was held to inform the public of the impacts this fire would be having on the community.
   THE WOOD ‘N’ HORSE show team competed in back-to-back national and state appaloosa shows. As a result of their efforts, the team won the most high points that were offered at both shows. Next up for the team would be the Appaloosa World Show in For Worth, Texas, in late October.
   THREE NEW TEACHERS were hired at Woodlake High School for the 2008-2009 academic year – Nicole Frazier, science; Jaison Norton, mathematics; and Charlie Abee, agricultural mechanics.
   JAY O’CONNELL, LOCAL-history author and former Commonwealth columnist, contributed an article on the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps in honor of the CCC’s 75th anniversary.

   October 3—A task force of Sheriff’s deputies, with the assistance of CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) and Bureau of Land Management personnel, raided a complex on Grunigen Creek about nine miles up the Mineral King Road. The East Fork area has been raided annually with the biggest busts occurring in 2002 and 2004. The recent raid netted 2,915 plants. No arrests were made in connection with the seizure.
   AT LONG LAST, the headline was able to read “All park fires fully contained.” This was welcome news for Three Rivers residents who had been dealing with smoky air, and park visitors who had been dealing with trail and road closures and even the closure of Crystal Cave for the season. The Hidden Fire, which cost more than $8 million to suppress, was declared 100-percent contained.
   THE NEW BOAT ramp being installed at the east end of Lake Kaweah at the Slick Rock Recreation Area was completed. Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah general manager, reported that the new facilities should be completed by Thanksgiving.
   THE MOST EXCITING news of the week was the forecast of rain for the weekend. There had been no significant rainfall in Three Rivers since February. The first snow of the season was forecast for the higher elevations.
   LAKE KAWEAH BENEFITED by the annual Public Lands Day as 165 volunteers picked up trash, painted structures at the visitor center and campground, and completed landscaping projects.
   October 10—At the recent town meeting, it was announced that Measure R funds would be used to expand the bridge at the entrance to the Cherokee Oaks subdivision. The bridge would be widened from 21 feet to 32 feet. Also at the meeting was a panel of fire experts to debrief the audience on the late-season fires that caused some of the smokiest air quality ever recorded in the Kaweah canyon. Alexandra Picavet, spokesperson for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, reported that summer visitation was down by two percent.
   THE MOTORCYCLIST, IDENTIFIED as a 65-year-old San Diego man, who was airlifted after a September 9 accident on the Generals Highway near Potwisha in Sequoia National Park died from his injuries less than a week later. A factor in the fatality, investigators said, was that the motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed.
   COLONEL ALLENSWORTH STATE Park, located between Earlimart and Alpaugh 40 miles north of Bakersfield in the remote southeastern corner of Tulare County would be celebrating its centennial anniversary.
   A NEW BAG of dog food in the trunk of a late-model Honda parked in a driveway along Sierra Drive provided an irresistible temptation for a roving bear. With relatively little effort, the bear ripped open the trunk to reach the snack before heading off in search of another easy meal.
   THE THREE RIVERS Carnival, celebrating 60 years, was in the planning stages. The annual community event is sponsored by the Eagle Booster Club as a fundraiser for Three Rivers School.
   THE SECOND ANNUAL Three Rivers Environmental Weekend was held with day one featuring exhibits, multimedia presentations, and demonstrations, including solar cooking. Day two was devoted to a tour of earth-friendly homes, as well as the new green police station in Visalia.
   October 17—A Finnish visitor was assaulted at Western Holiday Lodge after a vandal kicked in the doors of several unoccupied rooms. The incident occurred at about 2 a.m. on October 15. The assault occurred when the room’s occupant opened the door. The assailant fled on foot.
   THEFTS AT TWO stores located in the Village shopping complex occurred during the weekend of October 11-12. There was no sign of forced entry at Three Rivers Drug, which reported $300 missing, or The Thingerie, which lost $50 in cash. Interestingly, no drugs were taken from the pharmacy and some of the more valuable items at the thrift shop were left untouched.
   A HUNTER WHO became lost during the first cold snap of the season walked into a ranger station at Cedar Grove on Monday, Oct. 13. The hunter was last seen near the end of the Big Meadows Road in Sequoia National Monument on Saturday, Oct. 11.
   THE WILD AND Scenic Rivers Act celebrated is 40th anniversary in October. Today, the system protects 11,409 miles of 168 rivers in 38 states and Puerto Rico, including the Kings and Kern rivers, both of which have sections that flow through Sequoia or Kings Canyon national parks.
   CALIFORNIA BECAME THE first state in the nation to enact a law that will require its restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on menus. The legislation will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, however, by July 1, 2009, brochures containing calorie content and other nutritional information must be accessible to consumers.
   October 24—The Santa Ana winds that were buffeting Southern California and creating havoc for firefighters in the southland had some influence over Kaweah Country weather. There were no winds, but warm temperatures, low humidity, and good air quality prevailed.
   FIREFIGHTERS RESPONDED EARLIER in the week to two spot fires burning in steep terrain along the Mineral King Road, two miles up from Highway 198. Cal Fire and Tulare County units responded and quickly doused the blazes. By mid October, 1.54 million acres had burned in California during 2008, the size of the state of Delaware.
   SEVERAL HUNDRED MUSIC fans of all ages descended upon the Three Rivers Lions Arena on Saturday, Oct. 18, for the inaugural Fall Music Festival and Dinner Dance. Performers included Wadaba’s West African Drum Ensemble, J.J. Jackson, and more.
   October 31—A key item on the upcoming town meeting’s agenda would be discussion of the county’s Draft Corridor Protection Plan. This plan was the current step in a lengthy process to establish a 16-mile stretch of State Highway 198 as a scenic highway, including a section through Three Rivers to the Sequoia National Park entrance. A chief planner with Tulare County’s long-range planning department would be reviewing what’s in the plan and how land-use decisions would be affected by its adoption.
   A 99-ACRE prescribed fire by the Park Service was lit near Wuksachi Village. A lightning-caused fire was burning in the remote Golden Trout Wilderness and had consumed 117 acres.
   AT&T LINEMEN REPLACED copper lines with new fiber-optic cable. No immediate upgrade in service was planned, but the cable is in place when service upgrades are mandated for rural areas.
   INTERSPERSED IN THIS October 31 issue of the newspaper were various photos of arachnids, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and wild animals that are often associated with Halloween, but when one gets to know them, it is revealed that they really aren’t so scary after all.

   November 7—Barack Obama was elected 44th president of the United States. The election was a defining moment in the history of this nation as Obama became the first African American to hold the highest office in the land. The president-elect would be sworn into office Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.
   OTHER ELECTION RESULTS included Republican Devin Nunes easily retaining his 21st District congressional seat with 69.55 percent of the vote and Republican Connie Conway, the chair of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, being elected to the 34th District State Assembly seat, garnering 65 percent of the vote. Other local voting statistics were provided including how Three Rivers voted on the presidential race, state and federal legislative posts, and state propositions as compared to Tulare County and California (for instance: Three Rivers followed the California trend by voting for Obama over McCain for president, but Tulare County overall voted for McCain by 57 percent to Obama’s 42 percent.). Both incumbents – Kent Owen of Three Rivers and Wayne Hardcastle of Woodlake — were re-elected to the Woodlake High School District board.
   AND HERE’S WHERE some Sierra Drive property owners turned against the scenic highway plan. It was after the town meeting on Monday, Nov. 3, when David Claxton, chief planner with Tulare County, announced that the corridor protection plan must meet five legislatively required elements and, here’s the kicker, “admitted that the ground rules for grandfathering [out-of-compliance properties] changed…” There was talk of setbacks and site plan review fees, which business owners viewed as burdens in what are already challenging economic times. Proponents appreciated that the proposed designation would enhance tourism and provide a vehicle for grant funds for infrastructure improvements.
   A STORM OVER the previous weekend dropped 1.11 inches of rain in Three Rivers. This brought the season total (as of July 1) in Three Rivers to 1.49 inches. The total one year ago was 2.57 inches. The temperature during the days was about 70 degrees with nighttime lows in the mid 40s.
   THE SIERRA TRADITIONAL Jazz Club announced that its November concert would be free to the public. A benefit usually reserved for jazz club members, the club waived the admission fee in an attempt to introduce all who were interested in traditional jazz.
   A LOCAL GROUP of Weight Watchers members announced that they had lost a combined 370 pounds. In celebration, they would be donating a variety of food equivalent to their weight loss to the Three Rivers Bread Basket food pantry.
   November 21—Local emergency rescue personnel responded to a call for help from Oak Grove, six miles up the Mineral King Road, on November 19 at about 2:30 p.m. A man in his 40s had fallen 50 feet down a rocky embankment and was semi-conscious. First aid was administered and a technical rescue implemented. The injured man was transported by ambulance to the Three Rivers Golf Course where a waiting CHP helicopter airlifted him to a Fresno hospital.
   SANTA ANA WINDS fanned the flames of several Southern California wildfires and more than 1,000 homes were reported destroyed in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Orange counties. In total, 65 square miles burned.
   SMOKE RETURNED TO Kaweah Country as the 858-acrea Davenport Prescribed Fire was ignited along the Mineral King Road between Lookout Point and Atwell Mill.
   A 41-YEAR-old female was riding her 1997 Harley Sportster motorcycle eastbound near the Village Market shopping center when she overcorrected to keep from crossing the centerline. The motorcycle went down on its side with its rider and skidded to a halt. The victim was airlifted to a Fresno hospital with a concussion and injury to her left leg.
   ANTHONY MARCELLINI, A San Francisco artist, presented artwork depicting the history of the Kaweah Colony to THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH. A wooden sculpture weighing about 80 pounds that says “Karl Marx” was initially created for a San Francisco gallery exhibition. It is a marker for the “Karl Marx Tree,” so-named by the colonists but better known today as the General Sherman Tree and the largest tree in the world.
   November 28—Improvements to the Lake Kaweah boat launching facility, which began in August, were presently nearing completion. The new recreation area, located at the east end of Lake Kaweah, includes a new access road, multi-lane launch ramp, parking area, and restrooms.
   COUNTY SUPERVISOR ALLEN Ishida attended a meeting with Kaweah Country business owners to discuss changes and restrictions as related to the proposed scenic-highway designation for a 16-mile segment of Highway 198 that includes Three Rivers.
   A “HIKING THE Parks” installment described a daylong hike to the summit of Alta Peak, then an off-trail detour to Pear Lake.
   December 5—The upcoming town meeting would address the scenic highway proposal, which had been causing concern amongst some Three Rivers residents and business owners ever since it was reported that “Caltrans guidelines stipulated that any roadside properties that are not in compliance with current county ordinances could not be grandfathered in…”
   A JACK GRIGGS Propane route drive was burned in a propane blast. He was airlifted via a CHP helicopter to Community Medical Center’s Fresno Burn Center. Apparently, the explosion was due to a broken connector line that may have been compromised when an appliance was disconnected or moved.
   AN ABANDONED CAMPSITE near Twin Lakes in Sequoia National Park left no clues as to who the occupant may have been. The camp — which included a tent and backpack, some gear, and food still stowed in the nearby bear-box — was dismantled by the Park Service, but information was still being sought as to the whereabouts and wellbeing of the anonymous camper.
   THE WOOD ‘N’ HORSE show team returned victorious from the by-invitation-only Appaloosa World Championship Show, held October 26 to November 1. All team members and coach/trainer Christy Wood of Three Rivers received accolades and awards for their performances.
   A THANKSGIVING DAY rockslide occurred on Highway 198 on the S-curve between the Mineral King Road and Gateway bridge.
   December 12—An anonymous person purchased 120 Christmas trees that were in the lot as a fundraiser for the Three Rivers Volunteer Fire Department. The trees were then provided for free to all who showed up at Three Rivers Mercantile to purchase one.
   JUAN CARLOS MELENDEZ, who was arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property, confessed to the October burglaries at Three Rivers Drug and The Thingerie.
   A NEW FEATURE in the newspaper, “Healthy Living,” debuted, which will tackle a different health topic each week. The feature is meant to provide simple ideas on how to improve overall health.
   AIRMAN FIRST CLASS Sam Basham of Three Rivers, currently stationed in Kyrgyzstan, received two large boxes to be shared with fellow airmen from a Three Rivers Girls Scout troop. Snacks, cookies, personal care times, DVDs, and video games were included in the shipment.
   TO PUBLICIZE AN author’s event that would be held at Costco, author Jay O’Connell, former Commonwealth columnist, previewed two new books that would be featured at the warehouse store: California’s Day of the Grizzly, by William B. Secrest, and The Southern San Joaquin Valley: A Railroad History, by John Bergman.
   WINTER WEATHER ARRIVED in earnest with daytime highs rarely going above 50 degrees for the week. The current season-to-date total precipitation for Three Rivers was 4.36 inches. One year ago, the season total was 7.67 inches.
   CAL FIRE INSTALLED a kiosk at the Three Rivers station so local residents could obtain hazard-reduction burn permits locally. Previously, when the station closed at the end of fire season, Three Rivers folks had to obtain permits in Visalia.
   THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION overturned a 25-year-old federal rule that severely restricted loaded guns in national parks. Under the new rule, which will take effect in January 2009, visitors will be able to carry a loaded gun into these areas, but only if the person has a permit for a concealed weapon and if the state where the park is located also allows concealed firearms.
   December 26—THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH presented its second annual California Hall of Fame issue, profiling in this and the Jan. 2, 2009, issue the 12 Californians who were inducted in 2008. The Hall of Fame and accompanying red-carpet ceremony was conceived by California First Lady Maria Shriver in 2006. Exhibits highlighting the lives and careers of the 2008 inductees will be on display at the California Museum in Sacramento through Oct. 31, 2009. This year’s honorees were: Dave Brubeck, Jane Fonda, Dr. Seuss, Robert Graham, Quincy Jones, Jack LaLanne, Dorothea Lange, Julia Morgan, Jack Nicholson, Dr. Linus Pauling, Leland Stanford, and Alice Waters.
   THREE TO FOUR feet of new snow fell in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park during a Christmas Day storm.
   A 22-YEAR-old female driver was injured in an accident near Horse Creek Bridge at Lake Kaweah. The driver lost control of the vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway and strike a tree. The victim suffered head trauma and was transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital. A female passenger did not appear to have injuries that required treatment.

   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
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