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In the News - Friday, January 30, 2009

 

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Only in this week's print edition of

The Kaweah Commonwealth:

Photo Finish 2008:  THE PLACES

Annual year-end review in photos

that, this week, includes the newsworthy places

in and around Kaweah Country

 

Let it snow!
More pack needed in Sierra

   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 2010.
   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 treatment systems.
   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 proposed amendments.
   For more information, call Randy Pares at the CSD office 561-3480.

Solar installations 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 solar technology.
   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 at: www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/solar

Hometown advantage:

Shopping 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 economy.
   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 chains do.

  —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 campaign: www.sbcouncil.org/ThinkLocalFirst

Girl Scout cookies now available

   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 — www.girlscoutcookies.org/meet_cookies.asp — then call Nancy or Emily McFadden, 561-0624, to place an order.

HEALTHY LIVING
Weekly tip


   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.

  —Exercise: Raising 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.

  —Socialize: Don’t 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 to accomplish.

OBITUARY

Lora Veiga
1919-2009

   Lora Elizabeth (Hall) Veiga, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Monday, Jan. 19, 2009, after battling cancer for the past three months. She was 89.
   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 and Cuyama.
   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 of mailboxes.
   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 brother.
   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.

 

 
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
editor@kaweahcommonwealth.com
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