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In the News - Friday, January 29, 2010

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

TREES SUCH AS this blue oak (Quercus douglasii) in Three Rivers were a

mass casualty of last week’s series of rainstorms. After several years of

dry winters, trees can become infested with insects or diseased, then can

break off or fall when rainsoaked. Homeowners can keep their residences

safe from hazard trees by removing overhanging or large branches and

inspecting trees for loosely attached branches, split trunks, or other signs

of weakness. Hire a professional, licensed tree service for the bigger jobs

to ensure personal safety and that of your property.

Storms revitalize Sierra snowpack

  When the February 1 statistics are released next week by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), they are expected to contain some impressive numbers. For the entire Sierra Nevada region, the snowpack is predicted to be at 140 percent of the February 1 normal.
   In the Kaweah drainage, where measurements are recorded by Sequoia National Park personnel at locations in Giant Forest (Middle Fork), Mineral King (East Fork), and near Quinn Peak (South Fork), the numbers could be as high as 160 percent of normal. At elevations above 7,000 feet, there is currently more than seven feet of snow on the ground.
   Farewell Gap, which has a remote sensor at 9,500 feet, checked in with 80.90 inches at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning with a temperature of 27 degrees. The water content was nearly 22 inches so there is plenty of runoff waiting to be released, hopefully later than sooner.
   What does all that snow mean for the rest of the season? It already means that if nary another drop of rain or flake of snow were to fall for the next two months, we would still be at approximately 88 percent of the April 1 normal.
   April 1 is the season’s benchmark used by the DWR to calculate runoff relative to every season from 1950 to 2000. Last year on February 1, the snowpack was barely 60 percent of the norm and conditions only improved slightly after some mid-February storms that increased the snowpack temporarily to slightly less than it is now.
   Of course, the water watchers are saying that one round of storms does not a drought bust. That’s because California simply does not have the facilities to catch all the runoff when the precious water does finally come cascading down the canyons up and down the Sierra Nevada.
   But for every El Nino — with its flooding and destruction of coastal real estate — there is a silver lining. With each precipitation event, as records are set and broken, there are many more indicators of what might be California’s potential if we could simply capture all that water for its efficient distribution and use.
   In Three Rivers, the rainfall that occurred on Friday, Jan. 22, increased the season total another 1.50 inches. Local stations are now reporting more than 11 inches as of Thursday, Jan. 28, with more precipitation expected as early as Saturday, Jan. 30.

Town meeting to discuss

frog restoration project

   The monthly Town Hall meeting returns this Monday night, Feb. 1, and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. Discussion will center on an aquatic restoration project that is being proposed for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ backcountry and some updates on the use of Measure R funds.   Supervisor Allen Ishida will also speak on the county’s latest efforts to preserve an abandoned short-haul rail line.
   But the hot button topic is whether the National Park Service should remove trout from as many as 85 backcountry lakes as a part of a proposal to restore the mountain yellow-legged frog population to the region. Some backcountry users are questioning whether the risks of removing the trout are worth the benefits of restoring the frogs.
   Adrienne Freeman, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks public information officer, said she knows that this project is of interest to lots of folks because the NPS has already received dozens of comments that are being incorporated into the environmental impact statement.
   Some of the concerns, Freeman said, will be addressed at Monday’s meeting.

  “That’s what this public process is designed to do,” said Freemen. “We want to give the public every opportunity to raise questions and express their concerns so we can choose the appropriate alternatives.”
   The key questions center around how many lakes should be considered for treatment and how should the non-native trout be removed. Park ecologists want to employ rotenone, an herbicide that has been used effectively in other projects including one at Lake Kaweah in 1988.
   Opponents of the project question whether the millions of dollars that would be needed to complete the restoration are really necessary given the current state of the economy. According to one local tourist operator, the publicity around a project like this would tend to steer some local tourists who fish the backcountry to go elsewhere.
   There is also the risk of using an herbicide in pristine backcountry streams and lakes. Among questions raised at a previous meeting were the impacts on other aquatic species and how the project might affect water quality.
   Park ecologists claim to have the answers to these questions but admit something like the scope of this project in a national park has never been attempted.

  “That’s where public input can play a crucial role,” Freeman said. “Each comment we receive is carefully considered in defining the scope of a project, especially when we know there will be impacts to the environment and the public’s use and enjoyment of the local parks.”
   Other topics on this month’s agenda include an update on local road conditions and how Measure R funds can be utilized in Three Rivers, the Board of Supervisors’ proposal to preserve the rail-line right-of-way in Tulare County, and an update on 2010 projects in the nearby national parks.

The ‘State' of things to come:

Hope springs eternal

   After a year like 2009 it would be easy to preach doom and gloom. Who could question a forecast that at every level of government we should brace ourselves for more of the same because, let’s face facts, recovery from this economic mess isn’t going to happen overnight.
   But to the credit of our current leaders, each seemed more than willing to take on the challenges of setting a course full speed ahead and riding out this economic firestorm. Here are some excerpts from what each had to say from Washington, D.C., Sacramento, and Visalia.

On Wednesday evening, Jan. 27, President Barack Obama spoke to a packed congressional chamber for more than an hour. He had an inspiring message but he admitted it will take a lot more than words to weather this storm.

  “The worst of the storm has passed but the devastation remains,” President Obama began his remarks. “These struggles that face all families are the reasons that I ran for President.”
   President Obama said that the change he promised has not come fast enough for the millions of Americans who are still struggling to make ends meet. Why can we fix Wall Street but yet there are lots of folks still losing their jobs and businesses on Main Street, he asked.
   The President went on by quoting statistics that the economy, when measured in declining job losses and overall growth, is beginning to turn around. Two million more Americans are working now than one year ago.

  “Our most urgent task begins with the economy and [more] jobs must be our focus in 2010,” Obama said. “What the American people hope and deserve is that we Democrats and Republicans work through our differences. Most of all, Americans want the ability to give their children a better life and… that begins with education.”

In Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 6, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, cited the restoration of education funding as one of his priorities during his State of the State address. While he admitted that this year’s budget will pose many challenges, the Governor drew the line at education and called for a historic realignment of California’s priorities.
   The Governor announced that he would work to protect California’s schools and to shield higher education from further cuts. The Governor called on legislators to help make California’s education system a higher priority than prisons.
   The proposal had some immediate effect on state universities as they prepared to launch spring semesters clouded with budget uncertainties and a freeze on new transfers.

  “The governor’s proposed 2010-2011 budget restores $305 million to the CSU and provides and additional $60.6 million for enrollment growth,” said Robert Corrigan, San Francisco State’s president. “This is the first hopeful news the public higher education community has heard in years. It could help to restore some much-needed classes and services, reversing some staggering declines.”
   The governor continued:

  “This coming year can be summarized in one word: priorities. As we face another round of fiscal challenges, we must get our priorities straight and keep them straight. Creating jobs and getting our economy back on track, protecting education, reforming our tax and pension systems and putting an end to our boom and bust cycle must all be priorities.”

   Now in his third term as chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, Steve Worthley delivered his State of the County address at last Tuesday’s (Jan. 26) regular meeting.

  “This morning I can confidently report to you that the county’s fiscal and physical health is strong,” Supervisor Worthley began.
   He qualified that statement by saying that like all governments and businesses, the county faces challenges during these difficult economic times. “But when we look around us,” Worthley said, “our sufferings seem slight in comparison with other governments.”
   What makes Tulare County different? Ironically, it’s the fact that Tulare County is not a wealthy county and years ago county officials learned a lesson that all governments would be wise to emulate.

  “Living within our means is in our DNA… so as others saw remarkable fiscal growth from unsustainable increases in real property values and surging sales tax, they made long term commitments to benefits and salaries that now leave them trapped,” Worthley said.
Tulare County moved forward, he said, but with an eye on sustainability.

  “We have historically made some equity adjustments and given reasonable wage and benefit increases to our employees,” Worthley said, “keeping in mind that moving forward is preferable to backpedaling.”
   An example of this policy that Worthley cited was the creation of the Tulare County Fire Department. When fire protection costs escalated beyond the county’s ability to pay, the board had the vision to end the contract with the California Department of Forestry and eventually was able to restore some of the depleted services.
   Another example is that the County of Tulare became self-insured for worker’s compensation benefits. The county has also leveraged funds in several major public works projects including the building of two libraries and a new sheriff’s substation.

  “The coming year will be challenging, but I am indeed confident,” Worthley concluded, “that at the end of the day we will witness Tulare County moving toward our collective vision through hard work and ingenuity of our county employees and with the dedication and hard work of the good people of Tulare County.”

‘Band-Aid for Haiti’:
EUHS to host benefit concert

   The Music Department at Exeter Union High School is assisting with the relief effort in Haiti by hosting a concert fundraiser. Every dollar earned via ticket sales will be donated to the International Red Cross.
   The concert is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 4, 6:30 pm, in the EUHS Auditorium. Ticket donations are $20 for adults and $10 per student.
   The concert is in response to the earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday, Jan. 12. It is estimated that 200,000 people died during the disaster while 1.5 million have been rendered homeless in a country that has historically struggled with poverty and political strife.
   The concert will feature a talent show by students and clubs, as well as performances by the EUHS Symphonic and Jazz bands, EUHS Women’s Choir, Girls’ Glee, and a special appearance by the COS Thursday Night Jazz Band.
   Additional donations will be gratefully accepted. If paying by check, make payable to “International Red Cross” with “Haiti Earthquake Relief” on the memo line.
   Kirk Clague of Three Rivers is the EUHS director of bands.


Arts Alliance announces 2010 projects

Empty Bowls meal will

kick off ‘A Year of Giving’

By Eddie McArthur

   This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers. It will be themed “A Year of Giving.”
   As such, the 2010 kick-off event is Saturday, Feb. 6, with the Empty Bowls dinner.
   The Arts Alliance has teamed with the Three Rivers Bread Basket — with tremendous financial support from the Three Rivers Lions Club and St. Clair’s Altar Society — to help feed the hungry in Three Rivers.
   The dinner has been in the works for several months with members and volunteers, led by Nancy Jonnum, creating bowls, many of which were glazed by Three Rivers School students. The bowls have been fired and are ready for purchase.
   The dinner is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. Purchase of a ticket buys a bowl in which a simple meal of soup and bread will be served and will benefit the Three Rivers Bread Basket.
   Bowls may previewed at the Memorial Building beginning at noon on February 6 as part of the 1st Saturday event in town. In addition, a silent auction of bowl-themed art will be held with those pieces also available for viewing.
   Tickets are available for purchase at the school, The Art Co-Op and Three Rivers Drug.
   From here, the Arts Alliance plans to continue community projects throughout 2010. Mother’s Day weekend brings everyone out for the historic Redbud Arts and Crafts Festival. One or more scholarships will be awarded at the end of the school year to student(s) pursuing higher education in a field broadly defined as “artistic.”
   An all day “garden art” event is being planned. The anniversary year will wrap up with a celebratory event in the fall, tentatively dubbed “Above the Fog.”
   And, who knows?, more happenings may take place throughout the year as this energetic, all-volunteer group celebrates 25 years of supporting the arts and the artists of Three Rivers.
   Eddie McArthur of Three Rivers is president of the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers.

3R college student honored

for championship career

   Volleyball players like Tiffany Marinos are a coach’s dream. Whether it was Three Rivers School, Exeter High, or Fresno Pacific University, Tiffany only knew one style of play — and that was to go all out all the time.
   On Monday night, Jan. 25, Tiffany was honored by Fresno Pacific University as this season’s Most Valuable Player and Most Inspirational Player, special awards for a special player on a NAIA championship team.
   Tiffany finished her four-year career at FPU on a 2009 team that went 38-0, the school’s first-ever undefeated season. During the four years that Tiffany played for FPU, the team won three national titles and one runner-up to a national title and she played in more national championship games than any other player in NAIA history.
   By the end of the 2009 season, Tiffany had also played in 148 matches and 476 sets, more matches and sets than any other Sunbird in FPU history. Tiffany also had a career high of 1,633 digs on a team coached by Dennis Janzen.
   Janzen’s game plan at the national championship tourney in Sioux City, Iowa, depended on team defense. Tiffany and Mariah Mandlebaum (the team’s libero during Tiffany’s senior season) were the defensive stalwarts during the Sunbirds’ most recent championship run. Janzen also used Tiffany in her senior season as an outside hitter but throughout her college career she made her place in the record books with her defense.

  “I think Tiffany and Mariah are two of the best players in the country at their positions,” Janzen said after the Sunbirds had completed their best season in FPU’s history.
   Tiffany, only one of two full-rotation players that Janzen used in the championship finals, contributed 13 of her team’s 48 digs. It was a storybook ending to a storied career.
   Tiffany already has some coaching experience, taking over last season at Central High in Fresno where she tutored boys’ volleyball. She took a small team of mostly Hmong players and taught them how to win by playing, what else? — defense.
   After graduation this spring, Tiffany will remain at FPU for the fall semester to assist Coach Janzen and FPU’s run at a third consecutive national championship. Following the completion a couple of prerequisite courses that she needs for grad school, Tiffany plans on enrolling in a three-year PhD program at a university in Southern California.
   Tiffany is the daughter of Manuel and Cindy Marinos of Three Rivers.

Housing growth near national parks

may limit conservation value

   The growth of housing near national parks, national forests, and wilderness areas within the United States may limit the conservation value that these protected areas were designed to create in the first place, a new study has found.
   The researchers determined that housing development reduces the potential of these protected areas to serve as a modern-day “Noah’s Ark,” interrupting potential travel corridors for some animals and altering habitat for others.
   Results of the study were published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  “These protected areas have become an amenity that actually attracts housing development,” said Roger Hammer, an Oregon State University sociologist and one of the coauthors of the PNAS study.

  “Housing is a convenient gauge because it is something that is easily measured and can be traced back to the 1940s,” he continued. “In essence, it serves as a proxy for human-development impacts that include everything from roads to strip malls.”
   In their study, the research team looked at how the growth of housing adjacent to protected areas has created a patchwork quilt of land use that essentially has shrunk the impact of the conservation areas. The researchers did not look at potential impacts on individual species, but rather focused their st udy on how the housing growth has changed the landscape.
   Between 1940 and 2000, 28 million housing units were built within 50 kilometers of protected areas in the United States. During the last three decades, the rate of housing growth near these areas has accelerated at the rate of about 20 percent a decade.
   In fact, since the 1990s, the growth of housing within a single kilometer of protected areas has far outpaced the national average of new housing units, according to Hammer, a demographer in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts.

  “The real growth began in the 1970s with a ‘back to the land’ movement, when proximity to the workplace became less important in determining housing location than living in a rural area,” Hammer said. “That was the first time that growth in metropolitan areas was outpaced by growth in more rural areas in this country.”
   Hammer and his colleagues say that if long-term housing trends continue on the same trajectory, another 17 million housing units will be constructed within 50 kilometers of protected areas by the year 2030. The situation actually could worsen, the researchers acknowledge, because baby boomers are just beginning to hit retirement age — and that could affect housing in rural areas.

  “Housing issues will not go away,” Hammer said. “The largest cohort of baby boomers was born in the mid-1950s and they’re just beginning to hit Social Security age. Retirement has been a key factor in the increase of housing near protected areas — and that probably won’t change.”
   Hammer and his colleagues say that the growth of housing near these protected areas includes both full-time and part-time, or vacation, dwellings.

  “The growth of seasonal homes has been a driving factor in the proliferation of housing units built near protected areas,” Hammer pointed out. “But from a research standpoint, it’s difficult to gauge a difference between a so-called permanent home and a second dwelling. A seasonal home may be actually be used on a year-round basis and a lot of dwellings that begin as vacation homes may become permanent residences when the owners retire.”


'My single-most favorite recipe'

EDITOR’S NOTE: Regular readers of this column will know that Tina St. John was raised in a large family with nine children. For the next several installments of her “Welcome to my food column,” she will highlight one of her siblings and their all-time favorite recipe. Tina said she wants to show “what came out of a home where food preparation was such a big part of how we lived.”

This week: Kay

   Do I dare say Kay, or Casey as I call her, was my partner in crime growing up? We shared a room together. Need I say more?
   Let me just add that what went on behind those closed doors... well, thank goodness my mother wore a charm bracelet that served as a good alarm system. Every time one of us was born my father gave my mother a silver disc charm with our name and birth date engraved on it.
   She always had that bracelet on so we could hear her coming,warning that whatever we were doing outside our permissible boundaries, we’d better straighten up fast.
   Kay is two years older than me. We got along well. We had to, being that we were always up to something.
   A classic beauty, in my opinion, with high cheek bones, thick blonde hair, and warm eyes. She is the one who looks most like my mother.
Kay was a boy magnet when growing up. She probably wouldn’t agree with that, but there are some things that sisters just don’t forget. And she has one of the happiest laughs I’ve ever heard.
   These days, Kay lives in Westminster, Colo., and works as a corporate real estate professional focused on project management.
To this day she savors the finer things in life — fashion, décor, and food. So the recipe she sent me was no surprise.
   This is a recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook, our mother’s bible. This particular book was always out in our kitchen.
   I had no idea anyone ever read it, let alone cooked from it, other than my mom. So enjoy this decadent recipe that Kay is sharing with you all as her favorite.
   Bon Appetit!


Makes 5 cups to serve 6-8 people

A 3-quart porcelain or stainless steel mixing bowl
A wire whisk or electric beater
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar (very finely granulated)
A pan of not-quite-simmering water
A basin of cold water

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Set mixing bowl over the not-quite-simmering water and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger (ouch). Then beat over cold water for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It should have the consistency of mayonnaise.

6 ounces or squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
4 tablespoons strong coffee
6 ounces or 1½ sticks of softened unsalted butter
Small saucepan

Melt chocolate with coffee over hot water. Remove from heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time to make a smooth cream. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar.

4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

Beat the egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle in the sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest. Top with whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar or, my favorite, vanilla-flavored crème anglais (see recipe below).

Crème Anglais Topping

Makes about 2 cups

½ cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1¼ cup boiling milk
A 3-quart mixing bowl
A wire whisk or electric beater

Gradually beat the egg yolks into the sugar and continue beating 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is a pale yellow and forms the ribbons. Beat in the cornstarch (helps the yolks from over cooking). While beating the egg mixture, very gradually pour onto the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets so that the yolks are slowly warmed.

1 tablespoon vanilla
A heavy bottomed enameled or stainless steel saucepan
A wooden spatula or spoon
A candy thermometer

Pour the mixture into the saucepan and set over moderate heat, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spatula or spoon and reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan until the sauce thickens just enough to coat the spoon with a light, creamy layer. Maximum temperature is 170 degrees on the candy thermometer. Remove the sauce from the heat while beating. Continue to beat for another minute or two. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and beat in the vanilla.


Ned Baker
1919 ~ 2010

   Ned Ferris Baker, a longtime Woodlake rancher and civic leader, died Sunday, Jan. 24, at his home in Morro Bay with his family by his side. He was 90.
   Ned was born October 5, 1919, in Pomona to Glenn and Nita Ferris Baker. He was raised on the family citrus ranch west of Woodlake.
He attended Woodlake Union High School and College of the Sequoias, then graduated with a B.S. in Marketing from University of California, Berkeley.
   Ned was the founder of Glenita Ranches in Woodlake and a partner in Visalia Citrus Packing Group.
   Among his civic activities were as a director on the boards of Agricultural Producers, Tulare County Lemon Association, and Woodlake Rotary Club. He was also an elected trustee on the Woodlake Union High School and College of the Sequoias boards for nearly three decades.
   He was appointed by then-California Governor Jerry Brown to the State Board of Food and Agriculture, where he served for six years. Ned was also a founder of St. Clement (Anglican/Episcopal) Church in Woodlake.
   At one time in his life, Ned was serving concurrently on nine boards of directors.
   Because of his devotion to the betterment of Woodlake, he was honored with the Woodlake Man of the Year award in 1963. In 1997, he was inducted into the College of the Sequoias Hall of Fame.
   Ned is survived by his wife of 67 years, Karyll Audrey Baker; his sons, Craig Baker and wife Becky Walters Baker of Woodlake, Terry Baker and wife Sally Dudley Baker of Woodlake, and Jeff Baker and wife Mary Lou of Post Falls, Idaho; and grandchildren, Kyle Baker of Santa Barbara, Jennifer Baker of Portland, Ore., and Ryan Baker of San Luis Obispo.
   A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 30), 2 p.m., at St. Clement Anglican Church in Woodlake. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to St. Clement Day Care Center (P.O. Box 505, Woodlake, CA 93286).

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
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