News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

Special four-page section:



Not available online.

Contact the Commonwealth

and order your print copy today!


In the News - Friday, FEBRUARY 3, 2006

Town Meeting details

scenic highway project

   As a well-known senator from New York once said, “It takes a village…”
   In this case, the “village” is the Three Rivers Village Foundation. The proactive community group, organized in 2004, sponsored the well-attended Town Meeting, held at the Three Rivers Memorial Building on Thursday, Jan. 26.
   The meeting featured presentations of local grant monies and furnished a forum for folks to publicly speak and ask questions about county government affairs. Tom Sparks, Foundation board member and a recent appointee to the TCAG board, chaired an informal agenda.
   The appointment of Sparks to TCAG — the Tulare County Association of Governments — was made last month jointly by supervisors Jim Maples (District 5) and Allen Ishida (District 1). Sparks, who also serves as a director of the local Community Services District, said that TCAG is the source for federal grant monies administered by Caltrans.
   In recent months, the Village Foundation has been working with Caltrans to determine what local projects, if any, might be eligible for these enhancement monies.
   SCENIC HIGHWAY— Sparks said a scenic-highway designation for a 12-mile stretch of Highway 198 from Lemon Cove to Sequoia National Park would have many benefits, including support from TCAG for grant money.
Konni Jones, Caltrans-District 6 (Fresno) scenic highway coordinator, said that Highway 198 is one of several state highways that have been considered eligible for a state and federal scenic designation. With impetus from the local community, a survey can be conducted and paperwork processed that would make the designation official.
   The stated intent, according to a handout provided at the meeting, is to protect and enhance the scenic values of a given area. Obviously, Jones said, the larger the project area the greater chance that there are going to be some sites within the area that may not qualify.
   These non-qualifying sites may be blighted areas like quarries, dumps, or the sites of residences and businesses that may someday be redeveloped. Those areas, Jones said, can be excluded or “grandfathered” and are taken into consideration during the Caltrans reviewing process.
   The review is based on documentation provided by the applicant, in this case the Three Rivers Village Foundation. Along with a description of the project area, a video of the area is required that would furnish a windshield survey of what scenic amenities are present.
   Once designated, a set of standards for roadside uses and future development are enforced and the distinctive signs adorned with the California poppy are erected along the route. At that point, the area becomes eligible for other federal scenic programs that could greatly benefit a gateway community like Three Rivers, Jones said.
Jones said that the Highway 198 corridor should be a relatively streamlined application process.

  “It is the intention of the Village Foundation to pursue the designation,” Sparks said. “We hope that there are some of you in the audience tonight who might want to come forward and assist in the documentation part of the project.”

TKC publisher appointed

to county Planning Commission

   Supervisor Allen Ishida, who attended the Town Meeting last week, announced that John Elliott, Commonwealth publisher, would fill the District 1 vacancy on the Tulare County Planning Commission. Elliott’s appointment to the four-year term became official when the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday, Jan. 31, to approve three new members to the seven-member commission.
   Elliott, 55, worked previously as a resource planner and public historian based in Southern California before moving to Three Rivers in 1993. Along with his wife, Sarah Barton Elliott, he has owned and published the local newspaper since 1995.
   The Tulare County Planning Commission will be the focus of a great deal of attention once it begins its deliberations on the Eastlake Development Company’s master-planned community proposed for Yokohl Valley. That project is expected to be a priority agenda item once the Board of Supervisors approves an amendment to the county’s general plan.
   According to Supervisor Ishida, a general plan amendment is routine after a request for a zoning change so that an applicant may propose a project.

  “What the amendment does is allow us to look at each project on a case-by-case basis,” Ishida said. “If the county tried to address all these developments in the general plan, the entire plan could be challenged in court.”
   A public hearing on the amendment for Yokohl Valley is scheduled for the Tuesday, Feb. 7, Board of Supervisors meeting. Members of the public may speak for three to five minutes during the public comment period.
   Elliott is the first Three Rivers resident to be appointed to the county Planning Commission since Chet Crain, who served on the commission in the 1960s. Crain was instrumental in paving the way for the creation of the Three Rivers Community Services District (CSD) in 1973.

It’s the law:

No batteries

in the trash

   Beginning Thursday, Feb. 9, a new state law takes effect that makes it illegal to dispose of household batteries in the trash. Instead, you’ll need to take them somewhere — to a household hazardous waste facility, a universal waste handler, or an authorized recycling center.
   The number, location, and convenience of such sites vary from county to county. Communities have had four years to prepare for the transition.
   The ban targets virtually every kind of household battery — AA, AAA, C cells, D cells, and button batteries. Fluorescent light bulbs and mercury thermostats also are covered by the disposal ban, along with various electronic devices, including printers, VCRs, telephones, radios, cell phones, and microwave ovens.
   State regulators say there won’t be much residential enforcement, though they have the ability to fine violators.
California identified such products as household hazardous wastes several years ago, but households and small businesses were excluded from the crackdown until Feb. 9, 2006.

Waging war

on weeds

  “We’ve got to hit them hard and hit them right now,” said Diana Glass,” a local Century 21 real estate agent who is on the warpath against invasive weeds.
   And thanks to the financial support of Diana’s Century 21 associates, David Learned and Wayne Lentz, the latest Three Rivers weed-abatement effort is already underway. Last Thursday, Jan. 26, Century 21 used the Town Meeting to announce the award of $5,000 to get the program jumpstarted.
   Elizabeth Palmer, a Three Rivers resident who works for the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation District office in Visalia, will administer the latest weed abatement program. Palmer was on hand to accept the check and announce that the fieldwork to eradicate two types of invasive thistle will begin in a few weeks.
   Palmer is a veteran of the arundo eradication effort that was responsible for removing truckloads of the bamboo-like non-native vegetation that threatens to clog the Kaweah river channel.
   Palmer’s office became interested in combating the local thistle invasion after reading a series of articles that were published last year in the Commonwealth. Unlike arundo, which grows prolifically along the river, the two types of the culprit thistle are mostly found on private property.

  “To get this weed eradicated, we need the cooperation of the property owners and the on-going support of the community,” Glass said. “I think what the articles did was alert the community to the scope of the problem and how fast the weed is spreading.”
   The money, Palmer said, will be used to buy spraying equipment and the expensive, but safe, herbicide.

  “Once the chemical is applied, it only kills the weeds,” Palmer said.
   According to Glass, there is about $1,000 remaining for labor costs to pay the crew that does the spraying.

  “We’ll probably be having a pancake breakfast to raise some more funds,” Glass said. “We want to make this program available to any property owner free of charge.”
   For those who prefer the do-it-yourself approach, workshops are being planned, Glass said.

  “If this weed program is to really work we need the support of the entire community,” Glass said. “It’s a win-win because it’s good for the environment and enhances the value of all our properties,” Glass said.

Citizens of the year:

Woodlake residents honored

   THE 44TH ANNUAL Woodlake Awards Banquet was held Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Woodlake Memorial Building, hosted by the local Kiwanis Club. Since 1961, beginning with Wilma (Dinkins) Hengst (1912-2001), a lifetime Woodlake resident, and E.B. “Bud” Loverin, WHS principal, local civic leaders have honored two citizens annually with the Man of the Year and Woman of the Year awards. This year, several dignitaries were in attendance to assist with the awards presentation: A representative from the office of Congressman Devin Nunes, Assemblyman Bill Maze, Supervisor Steven Worthley, and Steve Tietjen, superintendent of Woodlake Schools.
    Explanation of photos (in print edition):
   Mike Rivas, Kiwanis member, with Barbara Ainley; Frank Ainley, Man of the Decade; and Bill Maze, District 34 assemblyman (R-Visalia). Frank Ainley retired in December 2005 after a teaching career that spanned 35 years, all of which was at Woodlake High School, his alma mater. Frank received the Man of the Year award in 1991.
   SALLY PACE received the Woman of the Decade award. She, too, has been a fixture at Woodlake High School for more than three decades, currently serving as Dean of Students. Sally has announced that she will retire in June 2006. She received the Woman of the Year award in 1994.
   BOB PEARCY accepted the Spirit of Woodlake award on behalf of his wife, Diana Pearcy. Diana, who recently retired after serving as the director of the Woodlake Family Resource Center for 11 years, was recognized for her tireless work toward the betterment of the community and its residents. Diana is also the current president of the Woodlake High School Foundation.
   JOAQUIN FEDERICO (left), president of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce, presents the Business of the Year award to Armando Huerta, owner of the recently renovated Taqueria Super Taco, which is known for having the best-tasting, freshest fast food around.
   ARMANDO HUERTA, Business of the Year; Randy Powell, Man of the Year; Sara Villegas, Youth of the Year; Linda LaFleur, Woman of the Year; Soukarana Stephens, Youth of the Year. Sporadically since 1971, a Woodlake High student or two are just exceptional enough to receive the prestigious Youth of the Year award. This year’s honorees are seniors Sara Villegas and Soukarana Stephens, a native of Africa and a Three Rivers resident since 1998.
   LINDA LAFLEUR, Woman of the Year, and Randy Powell, Man of the Year. Linda was honored for her multi-faceted contributions as a community volunteer who is a Kiwanis Club board member and past president, religious educator, Woodlake Food Pantry volunteer, and all-around “worker bee.” Randy is credited with nearly single-handedly keeping the volunteer-run Woodlake Food Pantry in operation.

Cole Fonseca,
musician, injured
in car accident

Benefit will assist
with medical expenses

   VISALIA— Friends, family, and fans of Cole Fonseca will gather tomorrow for a concert that would make the young blues musician proud. But he probably won’t be there.
   On Friday, Dec. 16, Cole sustained serious injuries as a result of a car accident. He was hospitalized with serious injuries including two crushed legs, a multiple-cracked pelvis, and more.
   He was the passenger in the car on the way home from a gig. The driver was killed. There is no insurance.
   Cole, 22, is the grandson of the late Bud Sweeney (1927-2004), a lifetime resident of Woodlake and National Park Service packer for 30 years. He most recently lived on the family ranch near Woodlake. The young, talented musician has made several appearances in Three Rivers.
   The Cole Fonseca Benefit Concert and Auction will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., at the Fox Theatre in Visalia. Tickets are $20; available at the box office (open at 5 p.m.).
   At least five bands will perform. A live auction will include a Pismo Beach weekend getaway, dining experiences, guitars and amps, electronics, skateboards, gourmet foods, and more. Credit cards will be accepted; no personal checks, please.
   From 6 to 7:15 p.m., an outdoor party will be held in front of the Fox with a sidewalk food court. For $15, it’s all-you-can-eat with a selection from multiple vendors.
   All proceeds from these events will assist with Cole’s medical expenses.
   Information: (805) 748-1864;

St. Clement’s priest
to perform ‘Mark’

   WOODLAKE— Replacing the weekly sermon, the priest at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church is doing something extraordinary. The Rev. David A. Brown will present a dramatic performance of the four chapters of the Gospel According to Mark, word for word, all memorized, one per week.
   The presentations began Sunday, Jan. 29, and will continue through Feb. 19 during the 9:30 a.m. worship service.
   Fr. David first memorized Mark for a seminary class.

  “I am certain this can be an important experience for people wherever they are in their walk with God,” he said. “For those who have doubts, this could answer some questions and maybe raise others.”
   St. Clement’s Episcopal Church is located at 498 N. Valencia, Woodlake. For information, call 564-8811.

  “I hope many people will come to hear the good news in a new way.”

Allen Pinson:

His final stunt
1916 ~ 2006

   He died many times for the Hollywood greats… on horseback, at gunpoint, sword point, falling from buildings, you name it.
   On Sunday, Jan. 22, 2006, Allen Dodd Pinson Sr. performed his final stunt. At 2:07 p.m., he passed away at his home on the Kaweah River in Three Rivers.
   A celebration of life is planned for the spring.
   Allen’s last six weeks were spent near the river he loved and the warmth and love of his family, friends, and beloved dogs. He lives on through so many who have been touched by his unique energy and enthusiasm for life.
   Allen Pinson was born and raised in Muskogee and Tulsa, Okla. He ventured out to the sunshine and promises of Hollywood after the Great Depression.
   At that time, Hollywood and Los Angeles were filled with orange groves and open spaces, and he quickly fell in love with the sunny beach days and creative pulse of the region.
   He soon realized that the movie industry was at its height in producing large action films (the real deal; no computer help back then!). The demand for stuntmen was great and brought with it a certain degree of glory. (Some local residents may remember Allen doing crazy handstand dives from cliffs in Three Rivers).
   He was soon riding and “falling” horses, doing staged fistfights, fencing, and racing and wrecking cars. Little by little, he became one of the most versatile stuntmen in the industry.
   Allen earned a lifetime achievement award and a spot in the Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame.
   Allen’s 89-year life took him from Oklahoma to Hollywood and all over the world as a stuntman for television and movies. Some of the productions in which he appears include the original “Lone Ranger,” “I Spy,” “The Planet of the Apes,” “Mark of Zorro,” and “Mr. Majestyk.”
   When he retired in the early 1970s, he settled in the peace and beauty of Three Rivers with his wife, Inge-Maria, and two children, Anthony Dodd Pinson and Petit Davina Maria Pinson.
   Allen was predeceased by his parents, brother Paul Pinson, son Allen Pinson Jr., son David Pinson, and first wife Charlotte Pinson (and beloved, personally-trained stunt-horse, Gaila).
   He is survived by his son, Anthony D. Pinson of Santa Monica; daughter Petit D. Pinson of Three Rivers; half-sister Paula Eri of Florida; ex-wife and friend Inge-Maria Pinson-Cabanilla of Visalia; “like-son” Christian Cabanilla of Valdez, Alaska; “like-daughter” Stephanie Cabanilla-Crawford and husband Christian Crawford and their children, Lillyanna and Lauren of Visalia; and extended family, including mother-in-law Herta Steingruber-Frolich of Dubbo, Australia; brother-in-law and wife Harald and Yoko Steingruber of Dubbo, Australia, and their daughters Rosalyn and Yasmin Steingruber of Sydney, Australia; and his three loyal canine companions, Spook, Zappa, and Nadja.
   Submitted by Petit Pinson “with love, in memory of a wonderful friend and father.”

Duke Loerch
1936 ~ 2006

   Duke Loerch of Three Rivers died Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006. He was 70.
   Duke was born in Mitchell, S.D., on Jan. 18, 1936. He is survived by his wife, Elaine.
   A “celebration of life” was held yesterday (Thursday, Feb. 2) at the River View Restaurant in Three Rivers.
   Remembrances in Duke’s name may be made to: AMVETS, 2615 E. Clinton Ave., Fresno, CA 93701, or Hospice of Tulare County, 900 W. Oak Ave., Visalia, CA 93291.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL:
Entire contents of this website © Copyright 2003-2004 by The Kaweah Commonwealth