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In the News - Friday, FEBRUARY 2, 2007

Weather... or not:

Freeze, fog but

little rain, snow

 

  In the wake of a January freeze that recorded local temperatures below freezing on 19 consecutive nights, the word “disaster” is being batted about; the disaster you heard about this week and the disaster that wasn’t even mentioned.
   The one that wasn’t mentioned was of course Katrina. It’s been 18 months since that monster hurricane wrought destruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The massive relief effort that has affected all Americans, and thousands of people around the world, didn’t rate a mention in the recent State of the Union address. That factoid especially irked political opportunists that seem to be coming out in greater numbers with each passing week.
   Now the very face of one of this country’s great places, New Orleans, is in the throes of an extreme makeover and in that Crescent City, preservationists are battling homeowners who can ill afford to rebuild from what remains. It makes more sense, according to the companies that do the rebuilding, just to bulldoze and start over from the ground up.
   A little closer to home here in Kaweah Country, we are dealing with the aftermath of a devastating freeze. The U.S. Small Business Administration announced earlier this week that they have opened three disaster assistance offices in Tulare County.
   Non-farm businesses, retailers, and restaurants that may be feeling the side effects of the freeze can also apply for the four-percent interest loans that may be repaid over 30 years. It’s not even required to know before you apply what your losses might total – the program is intended to pump some much needed cash into businesses that could potentially hire some displaced workers.
The Visalia Chamber of Commerce is acting as an outreach center for the loan paperwork. Applicants are being encouraged to apply early on in the process.
   Climatologists are still not certain whether last July’s heatwave is related to this bitter cold and dry January. It’s too early to tell. But what we do know is that periods of extended extreme weather are becoming far more the norm than the exception.
   In the southern Sierra region, the experts are saying, the effects of warming are more likely to influence summer and winter extremes. In the next 10 to 15 years, forecasters are predicting less of the winter season’s precipitation to fall as snow and more to fall in large rain events of shorter duration.
   The February 1 snowpack totals will be released soon, but early indicators are that the Kaweah drainage is about 40 percent of normal. These figures do not spell more disaster but may just be the start of something new… or in a week or two may be called the season that got off to a very slow start.
   What will it be like during summer in 10 to 15 years? That heat wave of 112 degrees that lasted for five days last July will most likely last 10 or more days.
   The precipitation that was experienced on two separate days this past week was a welcome change from the dry cold and brought nearly one-half inch of rainfall and six to eight inches of new snow to elevations above 7,000. Where’s that big rain event when we really need it?
   The Mineral King patrol ranger is reporting patchy snow and ice on the road below Silver City with more treacherous going above that mountain community. The road is conducive to skiing into the Mineral King Valley but a permit from Ash Mountain is necessary to gain winter access while the area remains gated.
   So what does it all mean when it comes to predicting the weather? There really isn’t anything new under the sun and always expect the unexpected.

New annual passes

grant access to public lands

   The previous Golden Eagle series of passes to national parks was replaced as of Jan. 1, 2007, with a new interagency pass that is valid for public lands administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation.
   The new pass series has been dubbed the “America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.” The former passes — the Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Golden Access passports — are no longer available for purchase, but will be honored until the expiration date.
   America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass provides access to the above-mentioned federal recreation sites to the general public. It is available for $80 (compared to $65 for the Golden Eagle Passport) and is valid for one year from date of sale.
   The pass admits four adults in a non-commercial vehicle (children under 16 are free) or on two motorcycles.
America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass is a lifetime pass for those age 62 and older. At $10, the cost remains the same as the previously available Golden Age Passport.
   Again, the pass admits up to four adults. The Senior Pass also provides a 50-percent discount on some amenity fees, such as camping and boat launching.
   America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass is for those with permanent disabilities. It is available for free with qualifying documentation.
   America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Volunteer Pass is for volunteers who acquire 500 service hours on a cumulative basis. It, too, is free.
   The per-vehicle entrance fee to Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks remains at $20 and is good for seven days. Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcycles are $10.
   An annual pass that allows access to Sequoia-Kings Canyon exclusively is $30.
   All of the above passes may be obtained at Sequoia-Kings Canyon entrance stations and visitor centers. The America the Beautiful annual pass is also available by calling 1-888-ASK-USGS, ext 1; or online at:

http://store.usgs.gov/pass or http://www.recreation.gov

Planners seek input from 3R community

   It might be cold outdoors but key planning projects are really heating up with several upcoming opportunities for Three Rivers residents to be involved in the process. Next on the local agenda is Monday evening’s Town Hall meeting, sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation.
   The meeting will be fast-paced with several county and NPS officials scheduled to make presentations followed by ample time for questions and discussion.

  “I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to speak up if there’s something you don’t understand about the scenic highway protection plan,” said Tom Sparks, president of the Three Rivers Village. “If there is an area that needs more information, now is the time to ask before the plan is adopted.”
   On Monday, Jan. 29, the Village Foundation held a dinner meeting at the St. Anthony Retreat for 65 members and several prospects. The discussion included suggestions for new projects like road repair, bear-proof trash containers, new outdoor lighting standards and formation of a volunteer “posse” to meet occasionally with county government to resolve local issues.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida, who will also attend Monday night, plans to comment on a number topics including why the restructuring of the county Resource Management Agency was necessary. He may also furnish an update on how the City of Visalia and Sequoia National Park plan to cooperatively serve Three Rivers with the new shuttle buses that are scheduled to begin operations during the busy Memorial Day weekend.
   There is also news relative to the county’s new general plan. At their last meeting, the Board of Supervisors extended the contract with the county’s consultant, Mintier and Associates, through June 2007. The extension was necessary, according to Theresa Szymanis, the county’s lead planner on the project, to ensure that a draft of the EIR and another volume that will contain the planning elements could be completed.

  “We have recently received several hundred comments on the first volume of the goals and policies of the plan,” Szymanis said. “If you would still like to submit comments, email would be the best way to do so.”
   On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Szymanis is conducting a special workshop with members of the Tulare County Planning Commission to fine tune the draft goals and policies report and discuss some of the public’s comments.

  “We are already receiving portions of the EIR from the consultant so we hope to have a draft of that next document by mid-March,” Szymanis added.
   The EIR (Environmental Impact Report) will likely be the most controversial part of the plan because that’s where the consultant must assess the impacts of guidelines that allow for development but have unavoidable impacts on the issues that matter most: air quality, water quality, flora and fauna, cultural sites, and the preservation of open space. In the best-case scenario, the county’s new General Management Plan will strike a consensual balance between resource conservation and encourage some smart growth.
   For more information about Monday’s meeting, call Tom Sparks, 561-0406. For matters pertaining to county business, call Supervisor Allen Ishida, 733-6271.

STJC sponsors Jazzaffair poster contest

   The Sierra Traditional Jazz Club is holding a contest that is open to all who wish to create original artwork with a Mardi Gras theme. The winning poster will most likely be used as the cover of a CD/DVD that the club will sell at Jazzaffair 2007.
   Everyone from amateurs to professionals, adults to students, are invited to participate. The first-place winner will receive $300, second-place winner receives $200, and third-place winner will be presented with $100.
   All winning entries could be reproduced and made available for sale at Jazzaffair and other club events.
   A PDF version of the poster must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 2, with the original poster submitted by Monday, April 9. The poster dimensions must be 10 by 16 inches.
   STJC will add the words “Jazzaffair 2007” and “Three Rivers, California” on the poster. The artist may leave space for this or allow STJC to determine the placement.
   Again, original artwork only will be eligible for judging and all entries become the property of STJC. No copyrighted material or photographs will be accepted.
   Email the PDF file to: Mary Scharn, Jazzaffair director, at scharn@jps.net. Mail the original poster to: Mary Scharn, STJC Open Poster Contest, P.O. Box 712, Three Rivers, CA 93271.
   The 34th annual Jazzaffair will be held Friday through Sunday, April 13 to 16.

OBITUARY
Annie Pearcy
1973 ~ 2007

   Annette Christine Pearcy of Visalia died Monday, Jan. 29, 2007. She was 33.
   A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m., at the Woodlake Presbyterian Church.
   Annie was born June 23, 1973, in Visalia to Bob and Diana Pearcy. She attended Woodlake schools, graduating from Woodlake High School in 1991.
   During her school years, Annie was active in 4-H, winning local and state awards for her fancy breed chicken project and participating in other projects such as art, photography, and cooking; skills that she continued to enjoy.
   She graduated from Chico State University and, in 1998, was accepted into the Accademia d Arti di Michael Angelo in Florence, Italy, where she studied art. After returning from Italy, she resided in Portland, Ore., for two years.
   Annie is survived by her parents, Bob and Diana Pearcy; sister Denise Pearcy and husband Terrell Scambler of Flagstaff, Ariz.; grandmother Frances Johnson of Modesto; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, and friends from around the world.
   Donations may be made to the Annie Pearcy Memorial Scholarship, in care of the Woodlake High School Foundation, P.O. Box 475, Woodlake, CA 93286.

 
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