this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
in this week's print edition of
Finish 2008: THE PLACES
year-end review in photos
this week, includes
the newsworthy places
and around Kaweah Country
More pack needed
Following the series of recent
storms, California’s water content
relative to its Sierra snowpack is slightly
improved but still only about two-thirds
of what is considered normal on the eve
of the traditional February 1 snow survey.
That’s the bottom line
of the official statistics that will be
released statewide next week. The stats
are expected to reveal that the recent
storms were not as powerful as the January
events of 2008. Those storms of just one
year ago had water watchers breathing
a sigh a relief as the snowpack for the
entire region was averaging upwards of
110 percent of normal.
The month of January generally
may be counted on for 20 percent of the
season’s precipitation. For the
remainder of the 2009 season, forecasters
are hopeful that California will now see
the opposite of last season when nary
a drop came in March or April and ended
up dashing some of that early season optimism.
The 2009 totals, currently
67 percent of normal, could improve throughout
the next three months as that quarter
of the rainfall season has provided some
intense storms in the past. For the southwest
region, which includes California, forecasters
are looking for normal precipitation throughout
the period along the coast and in the
Sierra region while the Great Basin and
the Arizona desert region are predicted
to average below normal.
In Three Rivers, the recent
rain events of January 21-26 that started
as warm storms came in on-again, off-again,
mostly light showers. The series of storminess
measured a little more than two inches
in local rain gauges.
As a result of those storms,
Three Rivers has now received 8.40 inches
of rainfall for the current season. At
the end of January one year ago, the total
was 12.40, exactly four more inches than
the current season.
In the nearby mountains,
the current snowpack at 7,500 feet is
approximately 30 inches and that’s
barely enough for most snowplay activities
including cross-country skiing. The ski
shop at Wuksachi has been reluctant to
rent skis although the present conditions
are suitable for snowshoeing.
A Wuksachi employee said
that the last round of storminess was
much colder and dumped six inches of powder
on the slushy conditions that had set
in. Another good dumping will be needed
to get the local ski season going in high
gear, she said.
After a cool, dry workweek,
the next chance for significant rain and
snow in Kaweah Country is next weekend.
There is a 30 percent change of rain for
the foothills on Friday, Feb. 6, and slightly
better odds for snow at the higher elevations.
SWRCB takes aim
at septic tanks
The State Water Resources
Control Board (SWRCB) is seeking to amend
the current wastewater discharge regulations,
and their latest proposal could have implications
for every rural property in California.
That’s because virtually all these
properties, just like the hundreds in
Three Rivers, have septic tanks, and Sacramento
wants to ensure that those systems that
might impair ground or surface water be
retrofitted or removed.
Like most laws on paper,
it sounds like a win-win but in practice
it’s bound to create more bureaucracy,
not to mention added fees that, according
to some observers, will be more difficult
medicine to swallow especially in these
hard economic times.
Prompted by Assembly Bill
885 passed in 2000, the law requires the
regulation of discharges of waste that
impair or threaten to impair surface water
of groundwater quality. The timeline for
adoption of the new regulations is July
The SWRCB is currently wrapping
up a series of workshops statewide to
gather input. There has been little publicity
and, as a result, the public meetings
have been sparsely attended.
According to the SWRCB environmental
impact report, septic systems, when properly
installed, remove bacteria and viruses,
but may allow soluble materials resistant
to degradation to reach and pollute groundwater
and nearby surface water. The proposed
regulations state that persons who discharge
waste that threatens to impair waters
of the state, and here’s the gray
area, must file a waste discharge report
with the regional water board.
Water boards may waive the
reporting requirements if the applicant
meets provisions of the waiver. Randy
Pares, general manager of the Three Rivers
Community Services District (CSD), is
charged with monitoring local water quality
and doesn’t see the new regulations
as a big deal for Three Rivers.
“In the past when we’ve encountered
a problem, most property owners have been
very cooperative,” Pares said. “When
it comes to the river and water quality,
people in the Three Rivers area want to
do what’s right.”
Owners whose existing septic
systems are within 600 feet of a surface
water body that does not meet water quality
standards may be subject to additional
requirements. Pares said those regulations
will be difficult to enforce in Three
Rivers because so many of the systems
have been grandfathered in and the property
owner has little leeway about how much
can be done.
All of the requirements for
existing septic tanks will also apply
to new septic systems, plus other requirements
including septic tanks must have effluent
devices that retain solids, systems that
use pumps must have malfunction alarms,
and septic tanks installed within 600
feet of the river may need supplemental
Anyone interested in finding
out more about the pending amendments
to the regulations is encouraged to attend
the next meeting of the CSD. At that meeting,
scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 4, 7 pm,
the general manager will report to the
board on the local implications of the
For more information, call
Randy Pares at the CSD office 561-3480.
doubled in ‘08
The California Public Utilities
Commission reported Wednesday, Jan. 28,
that in 2008 Californians installed twice
as many megawatts of solar power than
in the previous year. The periodic report
on the California Solar Initiative was
a beacon of good news amidst the week’s
reports of job losses and steep declines
in public sector revenue.
“Our vision of solar panels lining
the rooftops of homes and businesses across
California is becoming a reality,”
said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I’m
encouraged to see that even in these difficult
financial times, we are breaking solar
installation records and spurring private
investment in solar projects. This program
is helping to make solar power possible
for hundreds of thousands Californians
— saving people money on their electricity
bills while helping us meet our long-term
renewable energy and climate change goals.”
According to a spokesperson
for the California Solar Initiative, the
program has spurred more than $5 billion
in solar projects by California consumers.
For every dollar in incentive
committed by the California Solar Initiative,
on average an additional $6 in private
funds is invested in California’s
The California Solar Initiative
was first conceived in 2004 when Gov.
Schwarzenegger called for expanded support
for solar energy and introduced the Million
Solar Roofs program.
In 2006, the CPUC and the
California Energy Commission jointly developed
a framework for the program.
With the Governor’s
support, Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles)
introduced SB1 and after it passed, the
bill effectively created California’s
Solar Initiative. The program was officially
launched on Jan. 1, 2007.
The most recent report of
the California Solar Initiative is available
local makes (dollars and) sense
The SFCC is preparing to
kick off the Three Rivers arm of the “Think
Local First” campaign in cooperation
with the Sierra Business Council and offers
the following information about the importance
and benefits of investing in the local
The headlines are full of
news about the global recession and its
impact on employment, retirement savings,
housing, banking, and consumer spending.
It’s nice to know that in difficult
times there are things that we can do
to make a difference.
National retail sales projections
are dismal. The answer to our economic
problems certainly is not to spend more,
but if you are going to spend less, make
sure that you spend it close to home.
Most Sierra Nevada communities see well
more than 50 percent of all retail sales
leave the region.
The Sierra Nevada is a region
of small businesses, with 80 percent of
private sector workers employed by businesses
with 20 people or less. The health of
small business is critical to the economic
viability of our communities and our ability
to provide services in tough times.
Communities with “Think
Local First” networks are outperforming
other economies, seeing improvements over
the average in retail sales and creating
new economic opportunities by re-circulating
dollars. There are many good reasons to
Think Local First:
—A dollar spent in a local independently
owned business is usually spent more than
six times before it leaves the community.
These dollars are used to make purchases
from other businesses, re-circulated as
wages, invested in improvements, stored
in local banks, and continue to strengthen
the economic base of the local economy.
—A dollar spent in a local business
is more likely to be used to support local
charities and community groups: Small
business owners give three times more
in their local communities than national
—A dollar spent in a local business
contributes to local sales tax and property
tax, providing local government with more
revenue to address local issues.
—A dollar spent in a local business
helps local consumers have a larger voice
in the products that retailers sell, keeping
our communities unique and attractive
with a vibrant mix of local choices.
“There is now overwhelming evidence
that local businesses are the key to pumping
up local income, wealth, jobs, and taxes,”
said noted economist and author Michael
Shuman. “The more residents, businesses,
and city officials support locally owned
businesses, the greater the economic rewards.”
We can re-circulate dollars
in our communities in many ways in addition
to shopping local first. We can give locally
first by supporting local nonprofits,
churches, service organizations, and community
foundations. We can eat locally first
and support local agriculture by purchasing
locally grown fruits, vegetables, meats,
and products. We can invest locally first
by banking with a local bank. We can conserve
locally by reducing our consumption of
energy and reducing waste, saving money
to reinvest in local economies.
We can make a difference
in our local community.
We all know these are tough
times. For the next couple of years, as
we weather this recession, we are going
to be asking questions about how we got
here, the mistakes we made, and how we
can do better. We all know we need to
make some changes.
In the meantime, let’s
start making a difference here at home.
In tough times, we have always banded
together to help each other. In tough
times, nothing is more important than
the friendship, support, and care we find
in our own communities.
Article by Steve Frisch,
president of the Sierra Business Council,
a regional nonprofit promoting the sustainability
of the Sierra Nevada and the driving force
behind the grassroots Think Local First
Girl Scout cookies
Three Rivers Girl Scout Troop
232 is a small group of four high school
students. They are currently selling Girl
Scout cookies and the proceeds will assist
them in planning and hosting a Girl Scout
weekend at SCICON in May that is expected
to include 50 to 75 other Scouts from
throughout Tulare County.
There are 11 kinds of Girl
Scout cookies. View them all online —
— then call Nancy or Emily McFadden,
561-0624, to place an order.
Winter is the time of the
year when the sun disappears and, for
some, there’s an onset of depression.
Here are some winter depression busters:
—Limit or eliminate sugar
and white flour from your diet:
What you eat can have a huge effect on
how you feel.
—Stock up on Omega-3s:
This natural, anti-inflammatory molecule
has positive effects on emotional health
by elevating and stabilizing mood.
—Give back: A sense
of purpose and acts of altruism are strong
antidotes to depression.
your heart rate stimulates the activity
of feel-good brain chemicals.
—Go outside: Even on cloudy
days, your mood will benefit from exposure
to fresh air and sunlight, which provides
Vitamin D that gives the emotional center
of the brain a boost.
isolate yourself when you’re feeling
blue because that’s exactly the
time that you need to be with friends.
Other tactics to beat back
the winter blues include bright-light
therapy, taking a winter vacation by heading
south like the birds do, start a project
around the house, and challenge yourself
with an activity formidable enough to
keep your attention but attainable enough
Lora Elizabeth (Hall) Veiga,
a former resident of Three Rivers, died
Monday, Jan. 19, 2009, after battling
cancer for the past three months. She
Lora, a lifelong resident
of California, was born Nov. 8, 1919,
to Henry Michael Cotter and Alberta Rosemary
Wilson. She was raised in San Luis Obispo
County and attended schools in Atascadero
In 1953, Lora moved to Three
Rivers. In 1971, she became a star-route
contractor for the U.S. Postal Service
and for the next 30 years, she was a familiar
sight on the roads of Three Rivers during
her daily mail deliveries.
She retired in June 2001,
and in October 2001, after nearly a half
century in Three Rivers, Lora moved to
the Red Bluff area to be near family.
Lora loved everything Western,
from cattle ranching to horseback riding
and movies to Will James’s novels.
In her Neighbor Profile in
1998, Lora’s “pet peeve”
was, of course, garbage cans in front
She also said, “I’ve
had a good life in Three Rivers, The key
is attitude. I’ve always been a
happy person and had a good outlook on
life. The Three Rivers old-timers all
seem to have that quality.”
Lora was preceded in death by two husbands,
Troy Hall and, in 1986, Arnold Veiga.
She was also preceded in death by one
She is survived by two brothers,
Frank Cotter and wife Carol and William
Cotter and wife Beryl; two sisters, Leila
Racer and husband William and Maryann
Cotter; stepson Edward Gregory and wife
Sally; and several grandchildren and many
nieces and nephews.
At Lora’s request,
no services were held.
These stories and so
much more in the weekly print edition
of The Kaweah Commonwealth.