In the News - Friday, January
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
Wednesday evening, Jan. 20, those wind gusts in excess
of 50 mph accompanied by heavy thunder and intense
lightning were certainly attention-getters but short-lived
with only minor damage. A few trees were knocked down
but once again Kaweah Country appeared to be positioned
smack dab between more severe weather to the north
By Thursday morning (Jan. 21), units of the CHP were
advising all travelers to avoid the I-80 area around
Lake Tahoe and the I-5 area through the Grapevine
as heavy snow was making driving extremely dangerous.
To the south in foothills areas that burned during
last season’s Station Fire, thousands of residents
were given orders to evacuate by Los Angeles County
Fire Department officials that are expected to be
in effect throughout the weekend.
The series of El Nino-spawned storms
had the ground saturated throughout the state and
more mudslides and flooding were imminent in dozens
of locales. Seaside bluffs were collapsing up and
down the California coast causing damage to a spate
of oceanfront properties as pieces of real estate
fell into the ocean.
Closer to home, the nearby mountains in Sequoia National
Park are piling up some impressive snow totals. On
Thursday, Jan. 21, Lodgepole rangers reported 72 inches
at the stake with another two feet expected by Sunday.
In Mineral King, snow sensors reported
from six to eight feet, depending on elevation. At
the Farewell Gap location at 9,500 feet, the forecast
was for several more feet on top of the 80 inches
already on the ground.
All that snow bodes well for California’s
water users. The February 1 numbers are now expected
to exceed the totals for the entire 2008-2009 season
throughout the Sierra.
In Three Rivers, the season total as
of January 21 was 10.43 inches of rainfall with one
to two more inches expected by Sunday. On this same
date one year ago, Three Rivers had recorded 6.71
inches with a paltry 32 inches of snow in the local
mountains at 7,000 feet.
The last year that piled up some impressive
snow pack like this was also an El Nino event that
occurred in 1998. So batten down the hatches and enjoy
the extraordinary weather because there’s plenty
more where this came from — the equatorial Pacific.
Three Rivers welcomes its
first baby of the New Year
At 1:01 a.m. on 01-01-10…
by Brian Rothhammer
Noah has arrived!
The New Year’s Eve countdown. People
around the globe count off the minutes in many languages
as midnight of December 31 arrives at their respective
time zones. Three… two… one. For the new
year of 2010 Jennifer Campbell of Three Rivers had
a rather different countdown in store.
Jennifer works at River View Restaurant
and Lounge and was expecting a routine New Year’s
Eve there. Thing is, Jennifer was also expecting a
due date was the ninth (of January), and I thought
I’d go way over that, so I got dressed up for
New Year’s,” she said. “It all happened
Jennifer went to the River View, which
is owned by her parents Rex and Dorletta Hildebrand,
and was having dinner with soon-to-be-father Ruben
Pinon when she felt a bit woozy.
thought I was just tired,” she said.
But mom Dorletta quickly interjected,
“I told her that morning, ‘You‘re
going to have that baby tonight!’”
Ruben drove Jennifer home to rest and
went back to the River View, under admonishment from
Dorletta to be on the ready and to not have a single
drink. An hour-and-a-half later, he was called to
had been counting the contractions,” said Jennifer,
“and when Ruben arrived, they were 20 minutes
apart. By the time we got to Visalia, they were down
to three minutes.”
was more nervous than I was,” she continued.
“It seemed like we got to Visalia in about 20
minutes. I don’t think he said a word during
Ruben later confided to Dorletta, “I
didn’t want the baby to be born in the car.
I was scared to death, but didn’t want her to
Upon arrival at Kaweah Delta Hospital, Jennifer was
wheeled immediately into a delivery room. The delivery
pushed for about an hour. Between my mother, my dad,
Ruben, Kaweah… they were all there for me.”
At 01:01 a.m. on 01-01-10 (numerology,
anyone?), Noah Francisco Campbell Pinon entered the
world, a healthy new Three Rivers resident of 6 pounds,
13 ounces, and 18 inches in length. Jennifer’s
daughter Kaweah acted as birthing coach during her
new brother’s arrival.
first I thought she’d pass out,” said
Dorletta. “But by the end of the experience
she was asking, ‘What kind of doctors are those?
I want to be one.’”
GM to leave CSD
Applicants being sought
general manager position
In the economic forecast for the first
quarter of 2010, good jobs will remain scarce and
hard to find. But in Three Rivers, one of the best
of a handful of local management positions is open
and needs to be filled immediately.
a great position where you are your own boss and in
charge of scheduling all the water sampling,”
said Randy Pares, Three Rivers Community Services
District general manager. “For somebody who
wants to live and work in Three Rivers, this is an
Pares should know because it’s
his resignation that has created the vacancy. He was
hired in November 2002 and since that time things
have been running smoothly, including the new playground
project that has really been a feather in the cap
of the Three Rivers Community Services District.
But now the clock is ticking on Pares’s
pending relocation to Buffalo, Wyo., where he will
join his wife Bonnie who is already working there
as a caregiver. Pares says the traveling back and
forth for frequent visits can be a nightmare.
During the recent Christmas holiday,
Pares was trapped for more than 16 hours at the Salt
Lake airport while maintenance workers attempted to
de-ice waiting aircraft during a blizzard. In addition,
he said, flying into Casper and then driving to Buffalo
can be downright expensive.
Pares, who has lived in Three Rivers
since 1988, said the timing is right to make a lifestyle
change. He will be taking a new job with Buffalo’s
water treatment department that serves a city of 4,500
The town is located at the 5,000 ft.
elevation level and has its own dam and reservoir
to store water coming out of the Big Horn Mountains.
Pares said his new job will be an entirely different
deal because the city’s system depends solely
on gravity-fed surface flow and doesn’t employ
Pares admitted it will be difficult to
leave Three Rivers behind but said each time he was
in Wyoming it became harder and harder to leave. There,
he said, he has relatives who are fly fishing guides
and the recreational opportunities are limitless.
wouldn’t want to go to a place where the scenery
is gorgeous and you have four distinct seasons?”
Pares said. “The snow-capped Big Horn Mountains
are absolutely beautiful.”
Pares said he is confident the replacement
process can be an easy transition. The agency has
already received several applications and Pares plans
to spend the month of February training the successful
For inquiries about this exceptional
career opportunity, call Randy at the CSD office 561-3480.
3R residents seek Measure R
When county officials are in Three Rivers
to discuss how they plan to spend $500 million in
tax dollars over the next five years on county road
projects, they’re likely to hear some tough
questions on why more of that money is not being used
in Three Rivers. That was certainly the case at the
January 11 town meeting.
Ted Smalley, Tulare County Association
of Governments (TCAG) executive director, and Johnny
Wong, the county’s road department supervisor,
both made presentations at the local forum. Smalley
explained the big picture by pointing out that because
Measure R revenue is earmarked for roads, Tulare County
finds itself in an enviable position as a “self-help”
county seated at the same table as the bigger players
like Los Angeles and the Bay Area counties.
What it means, Smalley explained, is
that Tulare County can leverage more funding by coming
up with a 10 or 20 percent match for road projects.
The rest of the funding, which can amount to 80 or
90 percent of the total cost, comes from the state
or federal governments. That funding pot
will enable the County of Tulare to undertake more
than $500 million in road improvement projects that
can be realistically completed in the next five years.
Johnny Wong provided a handout showing
where and when this money was scheduled to be spent.
But the fact that no immediate projects were slated
for Three Rivers riled several in the audience.
Carole Clum, a South Fork resident, presented
a two-page letter outlining concerns she had with
a gamut of road-related issues, including the poor
conditions of portions of South Fork Drive, Dinely
Drive, and Dry Creek Road.
According to Clum, she was told that
there are 3,000 miles of county roads that are impossible
to keep up with the maintenance even with Measure
R money. Clum said that Craig Anderson, a Tulare County
surveyor, recently told her that 90 percent of the
county’s foothills and mountain roads are substandard.
Wong responded by saying that although
Eggers Drive and portions of South Fork Drive were
recently repaired, he would look into other areas
where there are the greatest needs. He agreed to come
back in February with a revised map that identifies
some areas where additional repair projects might
Tom Sparks, local member of the TCAG
board, said one area that was not discussed at the
recent town meeting was the 14 percent of the Measure
R money that must be used for bikeways, buses, and
environmental mitigation. Sparks says that some Measure
R funding could be used to help the county restore
abandoned rail lines that would benefit shippers now
and become a light rail system in the future.
improvement in our air quality alone would be well
worth the investment,” Sparks said.
Sequoia Speaks begins third
Another compelling lineup of speakers
has been scheduled for this winter’s Sequoia
Speaks series. The programs will be held at Three
Rivers Arts Center from 7 to 8 p.m. for six consecutive
Saturdays, beginning tomorrow (January 23).
All of the current week’s program
will be listed in the Kaweah Kalendar. Here is the
2010 schedule in order of appearance:
Creepy Crawlies of Sierran Caves
with Joel Despain, cave specialist.
Diggin’ the Parks: Archeology
and the National Park Service with Jane Allen,
Science in the National Park
Service: An Evolving Relationship with David
Graber, Pacific West Region chief scientist.
Women in the National Parks
with Adrienne Freeman, acting public affairs specialist.
A Transect — Due East
with Matthew Rangel, artist.
National Parks in a Changing
World with Bill Tweed, author.
All programs are free and open to the public.
3R Chorus recruiting for 2010
Eileen Farrell has performed in New York
City and worked as a talent agent in Hollywood, but
these days focuses her efforts on the performing arts
in Three Rivers and Tulare County. How fortunate for
aspiring singers and actors in Kaweah Country.
Registration is currently ongoing for
the Three Rivers Chorus, which will begin its 2010
season in February. Eileen organizes and directs the
chorus, as well as provides members one-on-one instruction
for personal improvement.
The members will work together as a small
group while preparing for performances. Members who
so choose also will have the opportunity for solo
After a career that spanned three decades
in New York and Southern California, Eileen and her
husband Walter moved to Three Rivers in 1994. Soon
after, the Three Rivers Chorus was founded.
Walter passed away in 2001, and Eileen
has continued solo, producing and directing several
Broadway musical productions, teaching drama and voice
to children and adults, directing at Sierra Performing
Arts Center in Visalia and at Exeter High School,
teaching private voice lessons, and more.
For additional information about the
upcoming Three Rivers Chorus session, or to inquire
about vocal or other performing arts lessons, call
Eileen at 561-0361.
Events planned during ‘Hero
For the fourth year, the Sequoia Foothills
Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring Hero Appreciation
Months from January though March. During
these months, Kaweah Country-wide discounts are offered
to public safety, emergency services, and military
In addition, several events are always
planned. On the last Friday of each month (January
29, February 26, March 26) at 7 p.m., a celebration
honoring a specific group of heroes will be held at
the Three Rivers Arts Center, which will feature speakers,
refreshments, and awards. These gatherings are free
and open to the public.
New to the event lineup this year will
be a family picnic and “Bathtub Race”
fundraiser, which will be held at Lake Kaweah on Saturday,
March 27. During this event, teams of five will acquire
sponsors and compete to make a bathtub buoyant and
remain afloat the longest.
For more information about the upcoming
Bathtub Race or Hero Appreciation Months, including
a list of discount card issuers and participants,
contact Leah Catherine Launey, 561-4270, or visit