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In the News - Friday, February 1, 2013

 

 

 

Sequoia superintendent named
to North Cascades post

  Karen Taylor-Goodrich has been appointed as the new superintendent of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex in Washington. Taylor-Goodrich is the first woman to serve as superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and has worked three years in the top job at Ash Mountain.
   Taylor-Goodrich, a California native, came to Three Rivers in February 2010 from a Washington, D.C., post where she had served as Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection at NPS headquarters. Her new job in the Cascades will begin in March where she replaces Chip Jenkins who became the Deputy Regional Director of the Pacific West Region in Seattle in 2012.
   While at Sequoia, Taylor-Goodrich’s entire tenure came during a period when there was no break from the ongoing road construction of the historic Generals Highway.
   In a September 2010 interview with the Commonwealth she said, “I know the road construction delays are frustrating right now but an improved roadway will eventually be an attraction and bring additional visitors to these parks. The recovery act money we are spending is an investment in our future and critical to ensuring the sustainability and longevity of the Generals Highway.”
   In 2012, Taylor-Goodrich also faced the challenge of closing the Generals Highway in January due to budget cuts during a period when there was no snow on the roadway and answering charges brought against Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in a lawsuit filed by a hikers group that claimed that stock use was not adequately addressed in the NPS management plan.
   Superintendent Taylor-Goodrich was also instrumental in developing sister park agreements with parks in Cambodia and China. Last year, with several staffers, she visited China to foster relations with park officials in that nation.
   North Cascades was established in 1968, and includes both Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation areas. The North Cascades have for many years been called the North American Alps.
  “I’m excited about the many opportunities and challenges that the North Cascades present,” Taylor-Goodrich said. “Returning to work and live in the Pacific Northwest has been a longtime goal, and I look forward to working closely with the park staff, local communities, park partners, and our interagency and Canadian colleagues to protect and conserve this very special region.”
   The ongoing reconstruction of the Generals Highway and the lawsuit’s settlement remain on the agenda for the next superintendent. No announcement has been forthcoming from the regional office as to when or who that appointment might be.

Village Market burglarized

  After smashing the glass through a side door along the east side of the recently completed addition, at least three burglars entered Village Market and removed the office safe and several cartons of cigarettes. The burglary occurred in the predawn hours of Tuesday, Jan. 29. Break-ins also occurred in March and July 2010, and since that time a number of security upgrades have been made.
   This recent heist took three minutes. An alarm was triggered and the burglary was recorded on surveillance cameras. The three suspects were wearing ski masks to conceal their identities.
   The burned-out remains of the truck used in the burglary were reportedly found later in Farmersville. A spokesperson for the market, who requested anonymity, said the thieves knew exactly what they were doing and what they were after.
   The safe contained cash to operate the busy market, checks, and paperwork associated with the business.
   The burglary is currently being investigated by detectives of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. Anyone with information in the case may text or voicemail the anonymous tip line at 725-4194 or call the department’s dispatch at 733-6211.

February 1 snowpack below normal

  After some encouraging numbers one month ago, state officials announced Wednesday, Jan. 30, that some preliminary readings indicate the February 1 snowpack will come in at or slightly below 93 percent statewide. Those updated numbers represent 55 percent of the April 1 norm measured when the snowpack is generally at its peak.
   A dry January caused an aggregate loss in the water content of the Sierra snowpack but state water officials aren’t pushing the panic button just yet.
  “We’re still seeing decent snowpack conditions due to the storms in late November and early December,” said Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources. “Those early season storms erased the deficit in our reservoir storage but a relatively dry January is a reminder once again that the weather is unpredictable and we must always practice conservation.”
   There was a series of rainfall events last week. They were part of the same system that later caused wild fluctuations in temperatures in the nation’s mid-section. The hot air colliding with the cold air caused unprecedented January tornadoes or warnings from the Gulf coast to Washington, D.C.
   At Pear Lake, at the headwaters of the Kaweah River’s Marble Fork, the ski hut caretaker reported that it rained at 11,000 feet. Then a second wave of colder air brought snow that froze the puddles that had formed on the snowpack.
   On January 24, during that unstable weather that brought some incredible rainbows to the Kaweah canyon, a 3.1 magnitude earthquake was reported centered 10 miles east of Sequoia National Park. The minor quake was reported by the Southern California Seismic Network to have occurred near where another 2.5 quake occurred on February 10, 2011.
   In the Three Rivers environs, the storm series brought .59 inches (January 23-24), .21 (January 25-26), and .09 (January 27) for a season total to date of 9.20 inches. That’s three more inches than this time one year ago but less than half of the 20.70 inches in local rain gauges by the end of January 2011.
   There is no significant precipitation forecast until at least mid-week but there is plenty of sunshine with temperatures in the 70s in the seven-day forecast. Bask in picturesque weather in the foothills and mountains while the Valley flirts with patchy fog during morning and night hours.

State law requires carbon monoxide alarms in homes

  The Tulare County Fire Department is reminding residents of the importance of having a working carbon monoxide alarm in their home. As of July 1, 2011, state law required owners of single-family homes with attached garages or fossil fuel sources for heating to install the detectors. By January 1, 2013, all other dwelling units, i.e., apartments, are required to have an alarm.
   Carbon monoxide is often called the silent killer; it is an odorless, invisible gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed outside of each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
   For more information regarding carbon monoxide, contact your local Tulare County Fire Station or call 747-8233.

2013 State of the County:

Improving life in Tulare County

by Pete Vander Poel
Chairman, Tulare County Board of Supervisors

  This address was presented at the Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, meeting of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.
   With a team approach in 2012, Tulare County managed to deliver a number of important programs and projects in addition to critical day-to-day services for the public. For example: a Customer Service Program and Economic Development department were established, the General Plan was updated, funding was secured for a jail facility in Porterville, and participation in Public Safety Realignment continued with success. In addition, Tulare County remained fiscally sound and passed a balanced budget without having to reduce department budgets, deferring step and merit pay increases, implementing furloughs, or instituting a hiring freeze. This Board will remain dedicated to fiscal responsibility and living within our means, regardless of Federal and State budget impacts.

STATE OF THE COUNTY
   As we begin 2013, I have never been more proud to serve the people of Tulare County. I also believe that the residents of Tulare County have a lot to be proud of. We have one of the most productive agriculture economies in the world, we are home to many natural and scenic attractions, and most of all, I believe our residents are proud to live in Tulare County.   Because of this, I am confident that we will continue to see opportunities and growth.
   However, Tulare County, like many counties, faces challenges during these difficult times. Our residents have shown their desire to improve life here and have voiced the priorities that need to be addressed: low-ranking health statistics, high crime in some neighborhoods, a growing marijuana problem, nuisance properties, inadequate recreational opportunities for youth, aging infrastructure, high unemployment numbers.
   Today, I want to address four broad issues that I believe will help improve life in Tulare County. These issues are: Health and Wellness; Public Safety; Investing in Youth; and Building Communities.
   Under each issue, I offer solutions and some key strategies that the County can and will take to improve life in Tulare County. Although each strategy will not solve all of our problems entirely, each one is a major step in the right direction.

Goal 1: Health and Wellness
   In 2012, Tulare County residents ranked 47th among California’s 58 counties in the nationwide County Health Rankings & Roadmaps survey.
   Here, according to the survey, 31 percent are obese, 27 percent are in poor health, and 24 percent are physically inactive. Those are all alarming statistics.
   As the largest employer in the region with more than 4,000 employees, the County of Tulare will lead the charge to improve these statistics through its own Health and Wellness Program and by implementing strategies under the California Community Transformation Initiative.
   Health and Wellness Program— Improving our physical health helps our fiscal health. Tulare County will strive to keep health care costs down by focusing on the Health and Wellness Program. This effort focuses on employee health screenings, health coaching, and education.
   For example, in 2012, the Human Resources and Development department administered free health screenings to employees, conducted a countywide “Walking Works Challenge” versus Fresno County, held its fifth annual County Health and Wellness Fair, and initiated a breast cancer awareness day. All of these initiatives impacted our workforce in a positive manner. These initiatives will continue to be implemented this year along with additional events centered around health and wellness.
   In addition, we will continue to challenge our employees, residents and neighbors to live a healthy lifestyle by encouraging them to stay fit and eat well. For example, this year, the Tulare County Health Advisory Committee will implement a Healthy Tulare County Week during the first week of April, with a different focus each day to help educate and bring awareness to a wide array of health issues.
    One health issue that I have been particularly interested in supporting is that of mental health. Through the Tulare County Mental Health Board and the Health and Human Services Agency, we will strive to promote awareness of mental health issues that often are undiagnosed or heavily stigmatized. We will do this through the efforts and activities of the Mental Health Awareness Month, the newly formed Student Mental Health Network, the Festival of Hope, additional health fairs in unincorporated communities, and the use of our mental health mobile units.
   California Community Transformation Initiative— Under the California Community Transformation Initiative, the County is developing partnerships to improve health and wellness for all residents. In collaboration with the Tulare County Health Advisory Committee, the County has developed plans for Tobacco Free Living, Healthy Eating and Active Living, and Healthy and Safe Physical Environments. These plans will allow the County to bring stakeholders from the health care, public safety, public health, and planning communities to develop a comprehensive approach to creating a healthier living environment for all of us living in Tulare County.
   Strides have already been made through these plans. A local example under the action plan for Tobacco Free Living I would like to commend and highlight is that of Oscar Bernal, owner of Riviera Apartments in Visalia. Oscar put a plan in place earlier this month to create healthier spaces for families and their children by implementing a smoke-free environment in each of his 15 units. We all know that secondhand smoke, particularly among children, has a detrimental effect on health. Thanks to participating in the Initiative, Tulare County is working to improving life for our residents.

Goal 2: Public Safety
   Tulare County is a large, diverse county; as a result we face a wide variety of threats to the safety of our residents. One of these problems is keeping our rural, unincorporated areas safe from crime.
   The Board of Supervisors has always maintained that providing funding and support for our public safety departments is our number one priority. Members of the Sheriff’s, District Attorney, Public Defender, and Probation departments are doing their best with what Tulare County can afford.
   Community-Based Officer Program— The CBO program was implemented in October 2009 after the County secured a $3.1 million COPS Grant. The community-based officers funded by the grant work interact every day with town councils, nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, school officials, business owners, other government agencies, and community residents. The deputies also make crime prevention presentations to civic groups, schools, and community groups.
   As a part of the grant, the County committed to funding the positions for a minimum of one additional year after the grant expiration. However, because of the success of the program, we will allocate as much funding from the unwinding of redevelopment as we can in order to retain these positions beyond our existing one-year commitment. The CBO program is just one component of the Sheriff’s Department’s commitment to public safety.
   Marijuana Eradication— One of the largest problems in Tulare County and the San Joaquin Valley is the prevalence of illegal medical marijuana grow sites. Since 2011, there have been nine homicides connected to these grow sites in Tulare County. Specific impacts associated with medical marijuana activities also include an increase in crimes, such as robberies, burglaries, assault, battery, carrying of illegal weapons, and a negative quality of life for areas surrounding such operations.
   With a one-time boost in funding, staff from the Sheriff’s Department, Resource Management Agency, District Attorney, and County Counsel worked hard to identify illegal grow sites, with eradication as the end result. Nearly 100,000 pounds of marijuana was eradicated and disposed of. The Board of Supervisors appreciates the efforts of staff and will extend that funding for the Tulare County Marijuana Enforcement Team and look for innovative ways to control and curtail illegal medical marijuana grow sites in Tulare County.
   Providing this funding will ensure that families and children are provided a safer environment in unincorporated Tulare County. For example, last year Allensworth School District principal Rob Cardenas contacted my office during Red Ribbon Week and felt he was in a predicament. He told me he had a hard time encouraging his students to live drug-free lifestyles when as they walk to and from school could see marijuana being grown in the backyards of Allensworth homes. These grow sites were reported and investigated. Within a matter of weeks, through the efforts of the Sheriff’s Department and Resource Management Agency, illegal medical marijuana sites around Allensworth were eradicated.
   Substandard Conditions in Unincorporated Communities— In the County, the Sheriff’s Department is responsible for all law enforcement activities within the unincorporated communities. They are often the first responder to calls for service of criminal, civil, and medical requests by the public.
   One common call the Sheriff’s Department often responds to is chronic nuisance properties throughout the County. These nuisance properties regularly present an excessive amount of calls for service and/or criminal activity that are negatively impacting our communities.
   In collaboration with the Sheriff’s Department, our desire is to work in cooperation with other departments and initiate a program that addresses nuisance properties. The goal of this program will be to compel property owners and landlords to help mitigate the negative impact that nuisance properties have on the community.
   The Board hopes to see this program come to fruition in 2013, and I know it will help improve life in Tulare County.

Goal 3: Investing in Youth
   Troublesome youth behaviors, such as truancy, violence, and substance abuse, are top concerns to parents, community members, and youth alike. These behaviors impact communities and can lead to serious social and economic problems.
   As youth grow with our communities, they need positive settings that offer the opportunity to succeed. There are countless organizations in this county that make great efforts to provide positive environments for our youth. Tulare County will continue to support those organizations and our youth by providing positive experiences through the Step Up Program and seeking to build more youth centers in the unincorporated areas.
   Step Up Program— For several years, the Board of Supervisors has set aside $250,000 for the Step Up Anti-Gang Initiative. This funding is used toward supporting organizations, community-based events, and programs for youth. The Board will continue to maintain this level of funding.
   Since 2007, the Board of Supervisors has been proactive in addressing the issue of gangs within the communities of Tulare County through the Step Up initiative. Through Step Up, we are investing in our youth and improving the quality of life for youth, their families, and their communities.
   Annual programs such as the Step Up Youth Challenge have connected more than 290 students at 15 junior high and nine high schools countywide to address a serious concern.  Participating students are empowered to address an issue on their school campuses and communities, such as bullying, poverty, or suicide prevention.
   For example, students at Mulcahy Middle School in Tulare addressed violence at their school last year by educating their peers during lunchtime events about steps they could take to alleviate bullying. The result, reported assistant principal Mark Thompson: not a single gang fight all year on campus. This year, similar efforts are being carried out by schools in Earlimart and Pixley. It’s these types of projects that improve life in Tulare County.
   That is why Step Up will continue to work with partners to expand the Summer Night Lights program to include additional communities to provide safe and fun activities for youth and their families in the evenings during the summer months. The LOOP bus will increase its service to at-risk youth throughout the county and will provide opportunities and experiences that would otherwise not be possible.
   Youth Centers— Tulare County will also seek funding and partners to open more youth centers in the unincorporated areas. In the past few years, Tulare County has been successful in finding funding and partnersto open youth centers in Cutler-Orosi and Ivanhoe.
   What does opening a youth center mean for a community? In Ivanhoe, Tulare County partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias to repair and renovate the community’s only youth center. The new building for the Ivanhoe Boys & Girls Club has been open since March 2012. Attendance at the Club has steadily grown since then. The new building is already at capacity.
   The new Club features daily education and homework help; computer classes; sports; cheerleading; dance and choir; drug, alcohol, and teen pregnancy prevention; and fitness classes.
   A strong program at the Ivanhoe club is the Torch (leadership) Club. The youth are learning that it is their responsibility and privilege to turn their community around and make it into a place where people are proud to live. Toward that end, the teens have been planning and implementing holiday events that include Club members, parents, and neighbors of the Club.   The youth are on track to develop traditions for Ivanhoe that are bringing people together and are strengthening the sense of pride they have in their community.

Goal 4: Build Communities
   In 2013, Tulare County will help build communities from the ground up through infrastructure projects.
   Investing in infrastructure goes well beyond just construction jobs. Good infrastructure impacts the County’s competitiveness. It attracts business, which brings in more jobs and increased tax revenue. Especially in this economic environment, attracting – or losing – major businesses can have a huge impact on a community. To see the ripple effect it has, just take a look at our communities devastated by the loss of jobs. Improving infrastructure boosts a community’s overall economy and standard of living.
   Broadband Initiative—The first community building initiative I would like to highlight is boosting broadband infrastructure through the Central Valley.
   Next Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project— Whether people live in rural or urban areas, residents and businesses today require access to high-speed Internet services in order to be successful and competitive. Internet service is often just as essential to employers as electrical power – availability is a must for economic development and to build strong, vibrant communities. This multi-million dollar project will install infrastructure capable of delivering broadband and high speed Internet in an 18-county area within Central California.   Approximately $15 million is being spent to make broadband infrastructure improvements within Tulare County and its communities.
   For example, Monson-Sultana School was the first user to receive services from this project,  and is already experiencing an increase in its high-speed Internet services. As the new broadband system continues to come online, Monson-Sultana School expects to see another tenfold speed increase.
   Dinuba area schools also went online this month. Construction countywide will be finishing shortly. System operators plan to begin delivering high-speed broadband services in February to many anchor institutions within Tulare County, including libraries in Visalia, Tulare, and Porterville, the Tulare County Office of Education, College of the Sequoias, and Porterville College.
   Transportation— While broadband is key to ensuring competitiveness in the digital age, building better roads and bridges builds better communities and improves the quality of life for residents and visitors. Good roads can drive economic development and business expansion, which in turn makes our communities more sustainable.
   Tulare County currently has the most aggressive bridge improvement program in the state, with 21 improvement projects currently programmed or under construction, including a $1 million, 60-foot bridge across the South Fork of the Kaweah River.
   I’m pleased to mention the progress of several roads projects in Tulare County. The last stage in a multi-year $55.5 million effort to widen Road 80 to four lanes from Visalia to Dinuba should be under construction by March. The final portion of a $12.9 million effort to widen and improve Road 108 from Visalia to Tulare should be completed in the spring of this year. And, the construction of a $12.5 million project widening Avenue 416 from Highway 99 to the county line will begin in early this year as well.
   Flood control— In addition to roads, perhaps one of the greatest infrastructure needs for our rural communities is flood control. As proven by storms in the last few years, a torrential rainstorm can flood and damage a community much faster than it takes to build. In 2013, RMA will begin construction on three major flood control projects designed to reduce flood impacts and improve the safety and quality of life in rural communities. These three projects are the Juvenile Detention Facility near Cottonwood Creek, Seville-Sontag Ditch, and the Yettem-Button Ditch. All projects will begin in Fall 2013. I would like to credit the Tulare County Flood Commission and RMA staff for their leadership and hard work to these projects to fruition.
   Water— While the County will bring forth projects to reduce the impacts of flooding, we will also continue to work with various stakeholders to ensure disadvantaged communities have safe, clean reliable drinking water. The momentum continues to build through the dynamic stakeholder process that was established in the Tulare Lake Basin Disadvantaged Community Water Study. Last year experienced landmark success when Alpaugh established a Community Services District, and we look forward to many success stories this year.

CONCLUSION
   In conclusion, I hope that I have conveyed the Board’s desire to spend this year Improving Life in Tulare County. I would like to close with one more example of empowerment and how you as an individual resident can help achieve that goal.
   Last year a group of Tulare residents made an attempt to revive the city’s literacy program, which was cut in June 2012 due to budget constraints. Staff with the Manuel Torrez Family Resource Center in Tulare petitioned the State last year to provide funding to their organization so they could revive the literacy program. The State responded, but would only provide the $22,000 in funding if the Tulare County Library Literacy Program would administer the funds. Tulare County Library staff agreed, and the program is currently operating successfully in Tulare.
   This example illustrates the fact that, regardless of who provides the service, Tulare residents win and gain a valuable resource. And, this shows how you, whether an individual, a group, or an organization, can have an impact, and you can improve life in Tulare County.
   Looking forward, this Board is dedicated to partnering with residents and organizations to preserve and create new programs and initiatives in order to confront our challenges and take advantage of opportunities to improve life in Tulare County.
   Supervisor Pete Vander Poel III serves as Tulare County Supervisor representing District Two, which includes the City of Tulare, the communities of Allensworth, Alpaugh, Earlimart, Pixley, Teviston, Tipton, Richgrove, Woodville and Waukena, and surrounding rural areas. He was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2008 and took office in January 2009.

Native plants explored at

Redbud Garden Club’s January meeting

By Holly Gallo

  The environmental and personal interests of two groups merged Monday, Jan. 7, when the Redbud Garden Club hosted fellow member and first male affiliate (a fact that he is very proud of) Andrew Glazier of Exeter to talk about the joys of gardening responsibly in the Central Valley’s arid climate.
  “[The meeting] was a discussion of how we can use native plants in a residential landscape,” Glazier said.
   The importance of growing native plants stems from their sustainability; as they are typically drought resistant, use fewer resources, and are non-invasive, gardeners can create beautiful settings while also being environmentally sound.
   Glazier, stewardship technician and nursery manager for Sequoia Riverlands Trust, is professionally focused on the conservation and preservation of the quickly disappearing natural landscape and native flora and fauna in the Sequoia foothills and river valley. A large part of that is collecting and growing endemic drought-resistant plants — a project that the local Garden Club is itself familiar with.
   Garden Club member and former club president Marcia Goldstein said that while the group is not exclusively interested in native plants, many of their projects naturally benefit from the use of endemic species. The club began to focus on native plants simply because they survive better in the Three Rivers climate and are more sustainable.
   Glazier remarked that the Redbud Garden Club was not like a “regular garden club with pansies and geraniums,” and that he felt like he was preaching to the choir when he talked with them about responsible gardening.
  “They’re already growing natives,” he said. “These women are doing great things.”
   What makes native gardens the “right thing to do” is two-fold. First, and especially important in areas like Three Rivers where residents live so close to nature, a native garden poses no threat of invasion and suffocation of the neighboring, naturally growing species.
   Second, the plants are naturally capable of surviving the hot climate without using too many resources. This is crucial in the arid Central Valley, when restricted water access is conflated by the excessive use of water employed to keep water-hungry nonnative plants like redwoods and fan palms alive.
  “People plant this stuff and it just doesn’t work here,” Glazier said. “You have to over water it just to keep it alive.”
   The products of the Garden Club’s sustainable projects can be seen throughout Three Rivers. The native garden at the Three Rivers Post Office was the largest and most widely funded project. It was planted in 1996 and dedicated to longtime club member Jean Darsey (1921-2007) in 2007. The Cal Fire Station boasts a fire-safe native garden, planted in 2005, which incorporates 25 tons of river rock and boulders over weed cloth that adds beauty while also allowing the garden to be more low-maintenance.
   The club planted a native garden at the Tulare County Fire Station in 2009, featuring a mural of the Kaweah River canyon by local artist Jana Botkin, and designed a native garden for the 20th anniversary of the Three Rivers Library in 1997.
   The Three Rivers Memorial Building’s gardens have been so successful that it has become a nursery for other seedlings so the club can transplant to other gardens. The native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers thrive in these gardens, allowing many, like the redbud tree, to reseed unaided.
   The Redbud Garden Club meets on a monthly basis at a member’s home. Their next meeting (February 4) will focus on making arrangements with succulents. Membership is $15 a year and open to everyone. Call 561-4196 for more information.

Soup’s on at 3R Woman’s Club

  The Three Rivers Woman’s Club warmed up their January meeting with a gourmet-style soup kitchen. Homemade soups of many varieties — fragrant, creamy, satisfying, rich with flavor, and hearty — were served with a side of homemade beer-batter bread to butter and dunk.
   The warm winter meal was topped off with homemade cookies of several varieties.
   The Club’s meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month with the next one scheduled for February 6 at 1 p.m. at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. A presentation by the Three Rivers Union School band will be the highlight of the gathering.
Three Rivers Woman’s Club membership is open to all women of the community. And guests are always welcome to attend the meetings.
   For more information or to become a member of the Club, call Bev, 561-3601.
   This article contributed by Linda DeLisio, Three Rivers Woman’s Club publicity chairperson.

SFCC in the midst of its winter activities

  Judging by the smiles, laughter, and the apparent popularity of the hot, spiced cider, the second annual Snowman Contest — the kickoff event for the Sequoia Foothill Chamber of Commerce’s Hero Appreciation Months 2013 -— was a success.
   The staff at Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park embraced the spirit of the event, posting flyers, hanging banners, and inviting their guests to participate. They also provided the snowy meadow in which the contest took place right outside the large lodge windows.
   That way, nonparticipants could also enjoy the contest, and they did. Several groups of guests stood at the windows of the bar and restaurant, smiling and taking pictures.
   Three families soon found that window-watching was not good enough. They came outside and started taking pictures instead.
   Participants included a multi-generational family from Anaheim who built two snowmen, a family from Fullerton who built one snowman, a couple from Vallejo who built two snowmen, a family from Reseda who built one snowman, a family from Orange County who built a snowman, two women from parts unknown who built a snow bunny, a Three Rivers family who built a snowman, and the event organizers who built four snow creatures between them.
   Adding to the excitement was the arrival of 12 young soldiers from the Presidio in Monterey who were camping in Sequoia National Park and stopped in at Wuksachi Lodge to rent snowshoes. They were thrilled to hear about Hero Appreciation Months and to receive their Heroes “thank-you cards,” resulting in an immediate discount on their snowshoe rentals.
   Prizes for the best entries included $20 “Chamber Bucks” and a 2013 calendar with beautiful photographs of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, provided by Wuksachi Resort.
   Hero Appreciation Months continues through March with several more events taking place.
   Article submitted by Leah Catherine Launey, who is on the board of directors of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce.

A ‘Big Year’ for the birds in Sequoia National Park

Have you seen the movie The Big Year? In this fast-moving comedy, Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin portray three men in a race to count as many bird species as possible in one calendar year.
   The movie is full of adventure, mishaps, and poignant moments of learning. There are some very real instances in the movie that most viewers would appreciate. What makes this movie so amusing is that it is based upon the kind of race that attracts the quirkiest of our species.
   A “big year” is an informal race to collect the most sightings of as many different bird species possible within one calendar year. Imagine yourself or one of your nature-loving friends upending their lives to chase birds for a year.
   Take the premise of this movie and compress the time frame into one day. Now, make the “race” happen in Sequoia National Park and it gets even more interesting. Every year for three weeks between December 14 and January 5, birders of all abilities find a Christmas bird count in their area. Their goal is to count as many birds as possible in one day.
   Sequoia’s Christmas Bird Count was conducted on December 15, 2012. Eighteen birders assisted in the effort.
   Spearheaded by the National Audubon Society, the international count is an effort to try to capture information on birds in their wintering grounds, when they are not migrating. Begun by citizen volunteers in 1900, it is now the longest running citizen science project in the United States. Locally implemented by the Sequoia Natural History Association, Sequoia National Park joined the Christmas bird count in 2000.
   The number and names of birds and bird species seen in circles such as the one here in Sequoia National Park are entered into the Audubon database. According to the National Audubon Society, the numbers are combined with other bird census studies to create a picture of how bird populations “have changed in time and space over the last hundred years.”
   The resulting information can be used to make informed decisions about bird conservation throughout the hemisphere. The numbers collected by citizen volunteers in Sequoia National Park are also given to the park so that long-term population trends can be monitored.
Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin’s fictitious year netted them some great stories and, of course, significant results. Though the local count was only one day, it was no less exciting. Birders got to explore beautiful sections of the park and capture experiences with the park’s flying wildlife. Bird highlights from the day were the sighting of the count’s first Merlin, witnessing a mature Golden Eagle, and watching a group of 75 Red Crossbills. The Red Crossbills are worth looking up in a bird book.
   In 2012, 18 volunteers counted 58 species of birds and 2,948 total birds.
Birding isn’t just for experts or those in a fancy race. If you would like to begin birding, visit the rangers at the Foothills Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park. They will be hosting some spring bird walks for all abilities. If you have friends in town, these ranger walks are a great opportunity to show off the most colorful wildlife in this area. The Sequoia Natural History Association will host the 2013 Sequoia Christmas Bird Count again in mid December.
   We are very grateful to those who came out to help count birds. Thanks to: Don Kaercher, Danny Boiano, William Tweed, Bill Bingaman, Dan Pittenger, Kelly Evans, John Austin, Danielle Witt, Chistopher Kunsta, Gaelle Collin, Denise Griego, Linda Mutch, Tony Caprio, Kristin Davis, Jim Entz, Harold Werner, Peggy Blanchard, Nicholas Ampersee.
   To see these results and those of previous years, visit birds.audubon.org. To see results from “big years,” see www.aba.org/.
   Article submitted by Savannah Boiano, who has been the education director for Sequoia Natural History Association since 2006.

2012 Results: Acorn Woodpecker (142); American Dipper (5); American Kestrel (5); American Robin (100); Anna’s Hummingbird (3); Band-tailed Pigeon (1204); Bewick’s Wren (2); Black Phoebe (13); Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1); Brown Creeper (16); Bushtit (112); California Quail (16); California Towhee (111); Canyon Wren (1); Cassin’s Finch (47); Common Raven (34); Cooper’s Hawk (2); Dark-eyed Junco (178); Downy Woodpecker (2); European Starling (5); Golden Eagle (1); Golden-crowned Kinglet (76); Golden-crowned Sparrow (35); Great Blue Heron (1); Hairy Woodpecker (5); Hermit Thrush (10); Lawrence’s Goldfinch (1); Lesser Goldfinch (30); Merlin (1); Mountain Chickadee (29); Mourning Dove (19); Mountain Quail (21); Northern Flicker (34); Northern Harrier (2); Nuttall’s Woodpecker (17); Oak Titmouse (113); Pacific Wren (1); Pileated Woodpecker (2); Purple Finch (8); Red Crossbill (75); Red-breasted Nuthatch (41); Red-breasted Sapsucker (1); Red-shouldered Hawk (3); Red-tailed Hawk (12); Ruby-crowned Kinglet (66); Rufous-crowned Sparrow (9); Sharp-shinned Hawk (1); Spotted Towhee (44); Stellar’s Jay (38); Varied Thrush (36); Western Bluebird (41); Western Scrub Jay (106); White-breasted Nuthatch (7); White-crowned Sparrow (6); White-headed Woodpecker (3); Winter Wren (3); Wrentit (49); Yellow-rumped Warbler (2).

Veterinarian’s advice:

Tips to keep pets warm, happy healthy this winter

By Kelly Anez, DVM

  It’s that time of year again when the temperature in the Central Valley of California actually drops a few degrees and we experience our version of winter. Although some other states may laugh at our definition of “cold,” our pets, just like us, are used to warmer temperatures.
   Cold weather can be hard on pets just like it can be hard on people. Here are a few tips to keep your pet warm and happy this winter:
   Take your animal in for a check-up, especially if it is an older pet. Your veterinarian can make sure that they don’t have any medical problems that will make them more vulnerable to the cold.
   If your pet is used to being indoors, don’t leave them too long outside. Chances are if you are cold, they are too. If you do have to leave them out for a length of time, make sure they have a warm shelter against the wind and rain, thick bedding, and unfrozen water.
   Speaking of water, although most of the time we don’t have sub-freezing mornings, we do occasionally have cold enough weather to freeze water bowls and troughs. Animals that don’t have access to clean, unfrozen water are more likely to drink out of puddles or contaminated water that may have oil, antifreeze, or other chemicals.
   Some animals can remain safely outside all winter in our area. Huskies, Labradors, and other cold weather breeds welcome these lower degrees and as long as they have somewhere to go to get dry outside, these animals actually prefer winter temperatures. When my husband and I lived in Minnesota, our Lab would routinely break the ice on the frozen lakes for a swim and would prefer to be outside on sub -freezing days, a concept that is crazy to most of us.
   Cats will curl up against almost anything to get warm, including car engines. Many cats are injured or killed every year by moving engine parts. Before you start your car, honk the horn or bang on the hood to make sure they aren’t huddled near the engine.
   Elderly animals need extra attention during the winter. The cold can leave their joints especially stiff and tender, and they may move slower and be less active.
   Dogs with arthritis often benefit greatly from thick, warm bedding and a dry place to lie. As well, many do much better with the use of arthritis medication, especially anti-inflammatories.   See your veterinarian for information on these medications.
   Pets lose most of their heat from their foot pads, respiratory tract, and ears. Although a sweater may help a short-haired dog, most toy or hairless breeds are intolerant to cold.
   If you take your pet to the snow, check their pads and in between their toes for ice and salt.   Wiping the paws after being in the snow will help them keep from cracking and prevent the pet from accidentally ingesting the salt. If your pet is not used to being outside, their paws may be more tender and doggie snow booties would be recommended.
   This time of year can be a great time for pets and people and most animals enjoy the escape from the blistering summer heat. By following the above tips and seeking advice from your veterinarian when needed, pets can enjoy family winter fun.
   Kelly Anez is a veterinarian and owns and operates Pacific Crest Equine in Exeter with her husband.

OBITUARIES

Cliff St. Martin
1976 ~ 2013

   Clifford Paul St. Martin, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Visalia. He was 36.
   Cliff was born July 28, 1976, in Visalia to Clifford F.G. St. Martin and Susan A. St. Martin.    Cliff was raised in Woodlake where he attended Woodlake schools and then Fresno City College. He was an electrical contractor and owner of CSE Electric.
   Cliff is survived by three children, Clifford Deen St. Martin, Jacey Laura Ann Reisinger, and  Caden Allen St. Martin; his brother, Matthew Brian St. Martin, and wife Julie Kathleen St. Martin along with their children, Jonston and Julissa; his parents Clifford F.G. St. Martin and Susan A. St. Martin; grandparents Francis R. Burns and Marion R. St. Martin; special family friend Sylvia Diaz; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
   Growing up, Cliff was affectionately known by his family members as “Hap” due to the fact that he was always smiling and happy. At Woodlake High School, Cliff was an outstanding athlete in football and wrestling.
    The family has established at the Cliff St. Martin Memorial Trust Fund for his children at Bank of the Sierra.
   A memorial service was held Saturday, January 26, at First Baptist Church in Three Rivers.

Frank Mattei
1935 ~ 2012

   Frank Mattei, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in San Francisco. He was 77.
   Frank was born in Pence, Wisc., on March 20, 1935, to Pauline (Alfonsi) and Jerome Mattei. He was educated in Hurley, Wisc., and studied for two years at University of Oklahoma.
   Frank lived in many places throughout his life, making a stop in Three Rivers during the 1970s, While here, he worked at Adrian Green’s Garden Gate Restaurant.
   Frank also lived in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and London. He made several visits to Corsica to connect with family and the ancestral roots of which he was very proud.
   His careers were as varied as his places of residence. At different times in his life, he was an actor, political and environmental activist, a restaurateur and, most unexpectedly, the owner of several retail stores in Wisconsin.
   Frank’s life was a voyage rich in family and friends, adventures and disasters, successes and failures. Most of all, until his final illness took hold, it was a voyage full of love given and received, and one that he enjoyed to the fullest.
   In addition to his parents, Frank was preceded in death by his brothers, Julius and Noel, and sister Angeline.
   He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Irene; brothers Philip and James; sisters-in-law Jean Ann, Carol, and Barbara; and many nieces, nephews, great and grand.
   Remembrances in Frank’s name may be made to the University of Wisconsin Foundation (www.supportuw.org), where he received a successful liver transplant in August 2004, or the CPMC Foundation (www.cpmc.org/giving).

Louie Lopez
1961 ~ 2013

   Louis V. Lopez died unexpectedly on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, at his Woodlake home. He was 51.
   Louie was a lifetime resident of Tulare County born March 18, 1961, in Dinuba to Pablo and Celia Lopez. He was raised in Yettem and graduated from Orosi High School.
   Louie owned and operated Louie’s Auto Parts in Woodlake.
   Louie is survived by his wife of 31 years, Mandy Pena Lopez; his four children, son Louie, daughter Brianna and husband Abraham Rodriguez, and sons Pablo and Daniel; grandchildren Shane and Addisyn Rodriguez; three brothers; two sisters; and many nieces, nephews, and a large group of extended family and friends.
   A rosary was held Sunday, Jan. 20, with a funeral mass on Monday, Jan. 21. Interment was at Woodlake Public Cemetery.

 
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