In the News - Friday, February 3, 2012
Unified school board
split on health insurance
The issue boils down to answering one basic question. Should school board trustees on the new Woodlake unified school board be provided with group health insurance benefits?
Those benefits, and the district’s ability to pay for them in the current economy, have suddenly become a hot topic in the constituent community. The issue, whether to continue funding health insurance for the former elementary board members, is on the agenda at next Wednesday’s (February 8) regular Woodlake Unified School District board meeting.
The new seven-member board is apparently split on how they will vote on the item. One of the former high school board members now on the unified board has said that it simply doesn’t make sense to spend $90,000 annually when programs and facilities for students are being cut.
Joe Hallmeyer, a former elementary board member who is in favor of keeping the health insurance benefits for board trustees, said it works well and is a small perk for dedicated members like himself who give lots more than just time to supporting the kids and the school district.
“I’m certainly not in it for the money but as a small business person I’m all for it,” Joe said. “I see it simply as an incentive to attract more qualified persons to serve on the board.”
The practice of furnishing the health benefits for elementary board members started more than a decade ago, Joe said, before he was elected to the board. After comparing what other area districts did, Steve Tietjen, who was the district’s superintendent in those days, found that a majority of the districts did provide a healthcare benefit package for its board members.
Joe said that district trustees today deal with a budget in excess of $22 million and the cost of furnishing health care is less than two percent and a justifiable expenditure. Not so, said some supporters of Woodlake High School who believe the money would be better spent on new textbooks, sports equipment, or transportation to and from school events.
Kent Owen and Edmund Pena, former high school board members and now WUSD area trustees for Three Rivers, who as members of the high school board never had health benefits furnished by the district, may hold the key votes in whether the plan will be extended.
Kent Owen has publicly come out against using the funds for anything but school-related programs.
“The key issue is that in a small community when you decide to serve you don’t do it for any remuneration,” Kent said. “It’s ludicrous that any money should go to board members. That money could be used for a teacher or several programs. It’s just not the way we do things.”
Bob Burke, who previously served on the Woodlake High School board and is now a trustee on the Three Rivers Union School board stated: “This additional expense comes at the worst possible time considering the current state of revenue in the district. Public servants, especially at the local level, should not expect compensation for their service. They serve for the good of the community, not for the good of themselves.”
But Joe Hallmeyer said that those who want to end the health benefits simply don’t see the big picture.
“Public education is going to be around a long time,” Joe said. “By granting this incentive we will continue to attract dedicated individuals to serve on the board. When it comes to our children’s future, let’s just do it smarter.”
Rainfall is hit or miss during La Nina
It has been nearly two weeks since the last local rain event in which just over two inches of rain fell within a 48-hour period, the first precipitation the region has experienced since mid-November.
The latest reports issued by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that the equatorial Pacific remains under the pronounced influence of La Nina. That means water temperatures are ranging from one-half to two degrees below the normal threshold that usually spells more moisture for California and the inter-mountain West.
The fact that this dynamic mass of ocean is cooler to depths of 200 feet means that the La Nina is not likely to go away or change much until after March 21 and the spring solstice. Long-range forecasts are showing that Kaweah Country is in for a decidedly drier spring and summer than was the case in 2010 and 2011.
At Lake Kaweah, the level of the current storage has come up about six inches this week; current elevation is at 611.95 feet above mean sea level, more than 100 feet below the basin’s capacity. To date, the Lake Kaweah area has received 4.88 inches of rainfall in the current season, just slightly less than the season total for Three Rivers.
In other Lake Kaweah news, a Visalia fisherman brought a newly mounted trophy into the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center last week. The large-mouth bass caught at Lake Kaweah weighed in at more than 17 pounds and was the largest bass caught at any U.S fishery in 2011. He took the trophy home but left a photo to substantiate this latest fish story.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the completion of Terminus Dam. The actual opening day was May 15, 1962. Lake Kaweah staff are currently making plans to commemorate this milestone.
Woodlake Rodeo seeks
For more than a half century, Woodlake cowboys have paid tribute to young horsewomen in the community by crowning an annual Rodeo Queen.
Each year the Woodlake Lions crowns a Rodeo Queen to reign over the annual Woodlake Rodeo. The Rodeo Queen is honored with a sparkling tiara, a beautiful belt buckle, and a finely tooled leather saddle donated by Valley Business Bank.
Queen contestants are judged on three criteria: horsemanship, poise and personality, and ticket sales.
To be eligible, applicants must be between 16 and 24 years of age and unmarried. Applicants need not be from Woodlake; young women from throughout the area are encouraged to apply. Contestants must also agree to be available on specific dates as set by the Woodlake Rodeo Committee, which includes, but is not limited to, the actual Rodeo that is held on Mother’s Day weekend.
For more information and to obtain an application, go to www.woodlakelionsrodeo.org. Applications must be received by Wednesday, Feb. 8.
Obesity: A growing problem in pets too
By Kelly Anez, DVM
Do you regularly reward your pet with treats for good behavior? Do you feed scraps from the table? Do you regularly add human food to your pet’s diet?
Statistics indicate that we may be turning our pets into treat junkies. Researchers for the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day last October noted that pet obesity is the greatest threat to the health of the U.S pet population.
How bad is pet obesity? One study estimates that 34 million dogs and 54 million cats are overweight and that these figures are up 5 percent from 2007. That translates into 55 percent of dogs and 53 percent of cats being overweight.
Part of the problem, researchers note, is that owners with overweight animals incorrectly label their pets as normal. Owners look at their chubby companion and categorize their weight as normal and healthy, while the pet suffers the health consequences of obesity. Obese pets often suffer from weight-related diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
As veterinarians, our task is to educate owners about proper healthy weights for pets and to teach owners the best way to prevent obesity and to address a weight-loss program for pets that are already overweight. One way to put it into perspective is to relate your pets’ weight to human standards. For example, a 12-pound Yorkie is the same as an average female weighting 218 pounds and a 14-pound cat is equivalent to a 237-pound man.
How about a 90-pound female Lab? It’s the same as a 186-pound, 5-foot, 4-inch, female.
What is one quick way to keep your pet’s weight under control? Don’t feed treats! Labeled as “kibble crack” by one veterinarian, today’s pet treats are loaded with sugar and fat and can create cravings that are far from healthy. For example, to a 50-pound dog, a premium pig ear is equivalent to a six-pack of 12-ounce sodas.
If you feel you must reward your pet’s behavior with food, there are healthy alternatives. Nutrisentials LeanTreats, Science Diet Canine Maintenance Light Treats, or even lean mozzarella cheese can be healthy alternatives. In general, it’s best to stick with a high-end quality kibble and avoid all snacks, treats, and human food altogether.
If you think you have a overweight pet or would like to learn more about pet obesity, contact your veterinarian and check out www.petobesityprevention.com for more information. Your pet will thank you.
Kelly Anez is a veterinarian at Pacific Crest Equine in Exeter.
Red hot (photo caption)
The Three Rivers chapter of the Red Hat Society — the Kaweah Canyon Cuties — celebrated their 10th anniversary on Friday, Jan. 13. They marked the occasion with lunch at the Red Lobster Restaurant in Visalia, which is where their first meeting was held in January 2002. Donning red hats and lots of purple garments, trademark colors of the nationwide club, are (front row, left to right) Gail Barlow, Carolyn Fronce, “Queen Mother” Betty Wood, Gaynor McKee, Iyone Jorgensen, Bonnie McCassy, and (back row, l-r) Ann Pinkham, Bonnie Lasswell, Marge Norgard, Peggy Huddleston, Clancy Blakemore, Carol Clark, Jane Dempsey, Polly Kelch, and Jacquelyn Johnson.
1928 ~ 2012
Carolyn Hope Ainley Burris, a former resident of Elderwood, died Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, at her Alturas home. She was 83.
Hope was born May 13, 1928, in Los Angeles, the fourth of five children born to Ralph and Jessie Ainley of Elderwood. She was raised on the family’s Elderwood ranch and graduated from Woodlake High School.
She attended Visalia Junior College (present-day College of the Sequoias) and Fresno State University before graduating from Whitworth College (Spokane, Wash.) with a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics. She received her teaching credential from San Jose State.
In 1957, Hope married John Burris in Woodlake. She was a schoolteacher for more than 30 years, mostly at the kindergarten level, as she wanted every child to have a good first experience at school. She retired in 1992.
Over the years, Hope and John resided in Ventura, Stockton, Mo., and Woodlake before moving to Alturas eight years ago to be near their daughter.
In addition to her husband of 54 years, John, Hope is survived by her two daughters, Melodee and husband Willis Chapman of Dyersburg, Tenn., and Carolyn and husband John Hughes of Alturas; brothers Dick Ainley and wife Laverne of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Frank Ainley and wife Barbara of Elderwood; sister Mary Agnes Ainley of Exeter; seven grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial service was held Saturday, Jan. 28, in Alturas.