this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
in this week's print edition of
Finish 2008: THE FACES
year-end review in photos (30 in all)
this week, includes
the amazing people
made news in Kaweah Country
Ishida updates 3R
on rail lines, county budget
When it comes to budget in
these uncertain economic times there’s
not a government entity in the U.S. that’s
not facing some sort of emergency. In
Tulare County, there’s a crisis
to be certain, but the Board of Supervisors
has pledged not to touch cash reserves
but rather make cuts in non-emergency
That was the bottomline of
the discussion at the monthly Three Rivers
town meeting held on Monday, Jan. 12,
at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.
Supervisor Ishida told a packed house
that at the regular BOS meeting (Jan.
13) there would be about 200 layoffs and
at least two county healthcare clinics
If things don’t improve
soon, Ishida said, there will be more
cuts and more layoffs. Ishida also said
that after the BOS meeting, he, Tom Sparks,
and Ted Smalley would be traveling to
Washington, D.C., to lobby transportation
officials on behalf of TCAG (Tulare County
Association of Governments). The trip’s
purpose is to prevent the abandonment
and salvage of 30 miles of railroad track
from Strathmore to the Tulare County line.
The clock is ticking on the
abandonment, Ishida said, and once the
county loses those tracks and right-of-way,
it’s almost impossible to put the
railroad back in operation.
The railroad that currently
owns the line has applied for a permit
that in March 2009 would allow the company
to tear up the tracks for salvage.
According to Tom Sparks,
who heads up the railroad committee, TCAG
is investigating every possible alternative
to abandonment, including possible purchase
for $1.2 million. Sparks wrote in a recent
“TCAG has held discussions with
the rail line owner, San Joaquin Valley
Railroad, to determine what it would take
to continue service to 11 shippers on
the route. TCAG has been approached by
other railroad operators about taking
over the freight service. A rail shippers’
association has been formed to seek improvements
that are more cost effective.”
Sparks also said that purchase
of the line makes good sense because of
the direct benefits rail service could
have relative to air quality, commerce,
and the eventuality of using the right-of-way
for passenger transport and recreation.
“Even if the freight service never
materialized, the rails could be salvaged
to recover any tax dollars spent,”
Sparks said, “and we could run buses
During the recent trip to
Washington, D.C., the Tulare County contingent
met with members of the Surface Transportation
Board and the Federal Railroad Administration.
“Once you get eyeball to eyeball
with people you have been corresponding
with on these matters, I think some real
progress can be made,” Sparks said.
“We all came away from the meeting
with a better understanding of what needs
to be done.”
Sparks said that one reason
why we got in these dire straits was that
the shippers who used the line in the
past were unfamiliar with the process.
If they had filed formal complaints because
of excessive charges, shipping goods via
rail might have remained a viable option
instead of simply adding more trucks to
Although there is a March
deadline on the railroad-abandonment application,
Sparks is confident that TCAG can move
“This abandonment affects the future
of Kern and Fresno counties, too, so we’re
forming a joint powers authority,”
Sparks said. “The feds are looking
for ways to help because they understand
that this transportation corridor is important
to the future of the entire region.”
sign wilderness bill
Among the first bills that
will reach President Obama’s desk
in the Oval Office for his signature will
be omnibus legislation that will add hundreds
of thousands of acres to the National
Wilderness Preservation System. Included
among the bill’s many provisions
that passed the Senate on Thursday, Jan.
15, is the bipartisan Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act.
The local parks’ act
will permanently protect 85,000 acres
of wilderness, including a section to
be named the John Krebs Wilderness. The
swath of Mineral King area acreage was
named after the former Congressman from
Fresno who fought developers and drafted
an amendment that made the Mineral King
valley a part of Sequoia National Park
The bill to expand protected
areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks won approval only after its sponsors
Rep. Jim Costa (D-Hanford) and Devin Nunes
(R-Visalia) agreed to new language that
ensured that horses and commercial stock
trips would be allowed in the newly-designated
“Though these areas are newly designated
as wilderness, they have been proposed
and managed as wilderness for more than
20 years,” said Alexandra Picavet,
parks’ spokesperson. “The
public will see little, if any, change
in the management of these lands.”
The bill allows for exclusion
from wilderness designation four check
dams located in the Hockett Plateau/Mineral
King area and a “cherry-stem”-shaped
parcel around the Mineral King Road.
Typically, the NPS uses road corridor
exclusion off both sides of the center
line of major roads and from existing
developments, e.g. the Mineral King cabins.
Also included in the act
are certain lands in the upper North Fork
and Redwood Canyon. The bill is currently
awaiting another vote in the House, but
that’s expected to be a formality
owing to the fact that the lower chamber
previously approved a slightly different
in sluggish economy
With most folks watching
every penny these days, coupled with the
fact that going green is in, one industry
that would appear to be able to hang on
would be recycling. But like so many other
small businesses that depend on consumer
spending for survival, recyclers everywhere
are battling a precipitous decline in
the cash flow.
“We expected to see a downturn in
our business this winter because most
people consume less cold beverages this
time of year,” said Ramon Duarte,
owner of Ramon’s Recycling. “But
I’m upside down and losing money
with the declining revenue the State is
paying for reimbursements, and now the
market is so bad we can’t even make
a dime on the materials we salvage.”
Early in 2008, Ramon, who
also operates in Tulare, opened a recycling
outlet in Three Rivers behind the Village
Market on Saturdays to collect local materials.
Until recently, Ramon said, he was collecting
enough to make it worth his while to be
open one day a week.
The Duartes recently purchased
a fixer-upper home on North Fork so they
were happy to be spending more time in
Three Rivers. Ramon said that for a time
the local recycling outlet was a win-win,
and Three Rivers responded by bringing
their empty containers to the Village
center rather than transporting them down
the hill or not recycling at all.
Here’s how California’s
recycling program works. Operators like
Ramon reimburse customers based on weight
for the California redemption value that
the consumer pays in the store.
In the best-case scenario,
the State reimburses the deposits paid
and then the recycler is permitted to
reap a bulk salvage rate of the materials
collected. Recently, given the current
state budget crisis, these payments have
been late and aren’t even covering
the monies that the recyclers have returned
The salvage part of the equation,
for a number of reasons, is paying less
than in 2008 while costs continue to escalate.
According to Ramon, the whole system is
teetering on the brink of extinction.
Ramon said in his current rental situation,
it’s not worth his while to open
the local outlet even for a few hours
but he’s hoping to find a more affordable
situation. That would really help, he
said, to get his business over the hump
this winter and, hopefully, the market
will improve soon.
“We really like Three Rivers so
we’re not going anywhere,”
Ramon said. “For the time being
we will still be open on most Saturdays,
but we’re asking all our loyal customers
to be patient and hopefully this economy
will turn around so we can continue to
provide local recycling.”
For more information or to
check on local hours before loading up
the recyclables, call Ramon, 303-1962.
In Three Rivers, there is
no university where locals can avail the
intellectual talents of the professors
through lectures and other such academic
events. But for the second year, Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks has offered
their experts who are employed in some
diverse and, arguably, the most interesting
careers on the planet.
Last Saturday, Dan Pontbriand,
Sequoia district ranger, discussed search-and-rescue
tactics. Continuing intermittent Saturdays
into March, a half-dozen more Park Service
speakers will inform Three Rivers residents
on subjects ranging from history to marijuana
eradication to aquatic biology and more.
Sequoia Speaks is held at
the Three Rivers Arts Center. The programs
begin at 7 p.m. and are about one hour
Here is the rest of the 2009 schedule:
Saturday, Jan. 31—
The Forgotten Dream: The Building of the
High Sierra Trail.
Saturday, Feb. 7—
The Long, Strange Trip: An Illustrated
Backcountry Ranger Rhapsody.
Saturday, Feb. 21—
When the Dust Settles: Restoring Native
Landscapes After Marijuana Eradication.
Saturday, March 7—
California Native Plants: Their Value
in the Home Landscape.
Saturday, March 21—
Restoring High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystems.
Floss your teeth at least
once a day. Next to brushing, flossing
is the most important thing that you can
do to ensure good oral health.
The purpose of flossing is to reduce the
number of bacteria that inhabit our mouths.
As the bacteria feeds on food particles
left on our teeth, they produce acid,
and it is this acid that eats into tooth
enamel and creates cavities. Bacteria
is also the cause of bad breath.
Flossing removes the bacteria
and plaque that hides in the tiny spaces
between teeth. If plaque is allowed to
remain between the teeth, it hardens into
a substance known as tartar. While plaque
can be removed by brushing and flossing,
tartar must be removed by a dentist.
Dangerous types of bacteria
build up within tartar, which produce
toxins that irritate and inflame the gums.
This condition is known as gingivitis.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can
progress to periodontal disease, a condition
where bacteria and their toxins invade
not only the gums, but also the bones
and structures supporting the teeth. This
can lead to bone loss, loose teeth, and
teeth that fall out.
If you haven’t flossed
in a while, your gums may bleed slightly
and become sore. This is normal, but indicates
that your gums are inflamed and in need
of flossing. After two or three days of
a regular flossing regimen, there will
be no more bleeding or soreness. The most
important time to floss is before going
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce is collaborating with the
Sierra Business Council (SBC) to offer
a “Think Local First” presentation
at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the
Chamber office, located at the Three Rivers
Historical Museum, 42268 Sierra Dr. Chamber
members are encouraged to attend this
program to learn more about a Sierra Nevada-wide
effort to improve commerce in small towns
such as Three Rivers. All interested residents
may attend as well.
Representatives from the
SBC will be on hand to discuss Think Local
First program details and how merchants
and locals can create a strong, sustainable,
and thriving economy.
About Think Local
First— SBC’s Think
Local First program seeks to create local,
living economies throughout the Sierra
Nevada. This program encourages residents
and visitors to think local when considering
where to make purchases, buy local whenever
possible, and be local by supporting businesses
and enterprises that make the Sierra Nevada
Following a model developed
by the Business Alliance for Local Living
Economies, the Think Local First program
works to ensure that economic power resides
locally, sustaining healthy community
life and environmental quality as well
as long-term economic prosperity.
The Think Local First program
supports the locally-owned, independent
businesses that sustain our communities
and give our towns unique character. Through
celebratory events, marketing of local,
independent businesses, networking, local
buying guides and coupon books, and other
educational efforts, this program fosters
support for the businesses and people
that make communities such as Three Rivers
special and strong.
Marketing Kits and
Membership Options— To
support marketing efforts for the Think
Local First program, SBC developed retail
support kits ($45) and membership programs
(range of prices) that enable participating
businesses to brand themselves as Sierra
Nevada local and independent. This regional
Think Local First effort brings visibility
to the significant contributions provided
by business to the local community, economy
About Sierra Business
Council— The Sierra Business
Council is a 700-plus, member-based organization
committed to pioneering innovative projects
and approaches that foster community vitality,
environmental quality, economic prosperity,
and social fairness in the Sierra Nevada.
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber is a member
of this organization.
For more information about
SBC and the Local First program, visit
Article by Johanna Kamansky,
Mary Ann Fredich
1915 ~ 2009
Mary Ann Fredich, a former
resident of Three Rivers, died Sunday,
Jan. 11, 2009, in Indio. She was 93.
Mary Ann was born Aug. 16,
1915, to Stephen and Anna Dvorzak. She
was raised in Ambridge, Penn.
In 1933, she married Stephen
W. Fredich. While raising their children,
Mary Ann was a homemaker and community
When Stephen retired from the Jones and
Laughlin steel mill, the couple moved
west to Escondido.
In 1989, Mary Ann moved to
Three Rivers to be near her daughter,
Elaine Bowden. She resided here for 15
years at which time she was very active
at St. Clair’s Catholic Church and
volunteered her time at Senior League
lunches, The Thingerie, and other community-service
In 1982, Mary Ann was preceded
in death by her husband of 49 years, Stephen.
In 2004, she was preceded in death by
her daughter, Elaine Theveny Bowden of
She is survived by her daughters,
Betty Naugle and Frani Richards; sister
Catherine De Nino, five grandchildren;
five great-grandchildren; and many nieces
A private service was held
at Oak Hill Memorial Park in Escondido.
1950 ~ 2008
Larry Joe Root, a former
resident of Three Rivers, died of a heart
attack Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, at his home
in Visalia. He was 58.
Larry was born Sept. 28,
1950, in Los Angeles to Frank E. Root
and Colleen Gertz. He was raised in Long
Beach and graduated from David Starr Jordan
High School in 1968.
Larry first discovered Three
Rivers in 1970 when he came here to visit
his sister, Teri. Since then, he has lived
here off and on.
Larry is survived by his
daughter, Shannon Root, of Rapid City,
S.D., and grandson Triston; daughter Colleen
Root of Barstow and granddaughter Trinatey
and grandsons Jayden and Gavin; sons Randon
Root and Jessy Root, both of Visalia;
and sister Teri Lowe and brother Frank
Root, both of Three Rivers.
A date is pending for a spring
These stories and so
much more in the weekly print edition
of The Kaweah Commonwealth.