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In the News - Friday, February 4, 2011


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Town Hall tackles

local projects, issues

Supervisor Ishida

announces re-election bid

  The monthly Town Hall meeting resumes Monday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. Sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation, this month’s meeting will feature updates on a number of topics including local efforts to garner funding from Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to ensure that ongoing transportation and infrastructure projects are completed.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida, who has been a frequent speaker at the Town Hall forums, will use the occasion to provide a District One state of the county update. On Wednesday, Feb. 2, he announced his intention of seeking a third and final term in 2012 for his current seat on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.
   Ishida was elected to his first term in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. He has said from the beginning of his first campaign that if elected he would seek no more than three terms. A third generation citrus rancher from Lindsay, the incumbent supervisor said if and when he completes a third term he is looking forward to returning to the ranch and spending more time at his home in Lindsay.
   Among the accomplishments, during his tenure on the board, Ishida is most proud of the fact that the County, through some difficult decision-making, has remained financially sound in the face of some daunting economic challenges. He said the passage of Measure R in 2006 has been a coup in helping Tulare County move forward with road repairs and some vital construction projects in a time when other counties are struggling just to keep afloat.
   Ishida has also been a staunch advocate of the acquisition of an east-side railroad right-of-way that would keep the area commercially viable as a regional shipping center, promote air quality, and provide an excellent alternative for future transportation options to move people and goods. Supporters of the acquisition have been criticized for suggesting that Measure R “road” funds be used on the project.
   Ishida will introduce Tony Boland, the county’s transportation services coordinator, who will explain how the Measure R monies are being used currently and also outline some future projects. Among local uses of the funding that are being proposed are more bike lanes and a multi-use trail that will encircle Lake Kaweah.
   Justin Stoner, district director for State Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-34th District) will also be on hand to furnish a Sacramento update. Assemblywoman Conway is making a meteoric rise on various committees in Sacramento and has several bills in the works.
   Dana Dierkes, public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyons National Parks, will update park news and the latest plans for the ongoing Generals Highway road construction.
   Michele Price, a detective with Tulare County’s Gang Violence Suppression Unit, will also be introduced and answer questions relating to criminal activity and gang members who frequent the river and Lake Kaweah.
   For more information about the meeting or to get involved in the Three Rivers Village Foundation, contact Marge Ewen, 561-0123.

Neighbors raise alarm

over felled oaks

  At least two residents who live along a north extension of Kaweah River Drive expressed concern that dozens of oak trees were being cut earlier this week in riparian and blue oak woodlands zones adjacent to the North Fork of the Kaweah River. The oaks were being cut by workers on ranch property owned by Janine Chilcott.
  “We’re not doing anything that we haven’t done in the past to keep our property looking great and the land healthy,” said Janine. “We’ve cut about 15 smaller oaks that are only about six inches in diameter and we’ll be cutting some more.”
   One neighbor, Johanna Lombard, disagreed, estimating that 40 oaks that were cut so far and some larger than six inches in diameter.
   Janine said the reason the oaks are being cut is to promote the grass for better cattle feed and to keep the mature oaks from becoming weakened by all the smaller trees that are cropping up and competing for nourishment.
  “Have you seen the old oaks that are growing down by the river?” Janine asked. “They are leaning over and about to fall down. That entire area is a mess.”
   But neighbors are wary after an incident two years ago when a property owner adjacent to the Comfort Inn and Suites on the south side of Sierra Drive cut a large stand of oaks, some that were reported to be more than 100 years old.
   In that case, the owner sold the property a few weeks later. A number of Three Rivers residents spoke out against the cutting of those oaks at a town meeting and asked the county to adopt an oak tree ordinance.
   After that incident, county planners began drafting an ordinance that would identify key areas for preservation and, when cutting a certain number of oaks is being proposed, a permit might be required.
   According to Fred Bruseulas, countywide planning manager, the ordinance being drafted by Ann Chapman, county planner, has been deferred on a recommendation from the Board of Supervisors until the General Plan Update 2030 is adopted. A specific oak tree ordinance could then be adopted as part of the implementation of the goals and policies of the General Plan.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida said that an effective way to safeguard oaks now might be to offer a general plan amendment to establish where and when it is appropriate to cut oaks on county lands.

Survey says snow is holding water

  Department of Water Resources (DWR) officials announced last week in Sacramento that the mountain snowpack is holding above average water content despite a dry January. How dry was January?   For the entire month, only about 13 percent of the average precipitation for the month was recorded statewide.
   Statewide, real-time sensors show that the water content of the current snowpack is 78 percent of the April 1 seasonal average. That compares to an average of 55 percent for the February 1 date.
  “We’re still optimistic for a good water supply, but realize that we can come up short in any given year,” said Mark Cowen DWR director. “Our unpredictable weather and delivery restrictions make it clear that conservation must remain a top priority.”
   The mountain snowpack provides approximately one-third of all the water for California’s households, industries, and farms as it melts into streams and reservoirs. A little closer to home, in the southern Sierra region, the news is somewhat better.
   The water in the current snowpack is 176 percent of the February 1 average and 97 percent of the April 1 norm. And maybe the best news of all is that National Weather Service computer models are finally seeing a dip in the storm tract and an encore of some of those December storms aimed at California on or about February 15.

Public input needed on Generals Highway

  The road construction on the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park that was aided recently by funding from President Obama’s economic recovery stimulus package is planned to continue awhile longer. So last month, the National Park Service issued a statement calling for the public to submit comments including any concerns or potential issues they might have relating to the proposed rehabilitation and resurfacing of a seven-mile segment of the Generals Highway.
   The historic highway is the only year-round access for visitors entering Sequoia National Park. It was originally constructed in 1926.
Public comments will be utilized in the development of an environmental assessment to evaluate alternatives, effects, and potential impacts of the next phase of the project.
   The segment under consideration will extend from Deer Ridge (12.5 miles from the entrance station at Ash Mountain) to the Wolverton Road (19.5 miles from the entrance station). This phase is expected to start in the spring of 2013 and last from three to four years. Traffic controls are utilized during the roadwork.
   In addition to the replacement of the existing pavement, the project will also include redesign of the drainage and replacement of shoulders and guardrails. Road shoulders, turnouts, and viewpoints will also be rehabilitated.
   More information is available online at the NPS website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki under Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. All comments must be received by Tuesday, Feb. 22.
   Comments may be submitted via the website, by fax 559-565-4202, in person to Ash Mountain headquarters, or via mail addressed to: Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271.
   For more information, call 565-3131.

Honoring the Ambulance Service

  When the siren of an ambulance is heard, most people, aside from wondering what the emergency is, do not realize some of the ramifications which befall those who immediately respond. Along with the trauma of treating the ill or injured are the other unmentioned intrusive events such as interrupted sleep, meals, church services, holiday festivities, and other activities that must be temporarily put on hold.
   Truly, it is a service of dedication we should all appreciate.

Sunbeams & Buzzards:
Letters from Three Rivers

  At a gathering to honor Three Rivers volunteer ambulance personnel, a couple dozen former volunteers were present and spent the evening trading stories and memories.
   The event was held Friday, Jan. 28, at the Three Rivers Historical Museum, as part of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s annual Heroes Appreciation Months.
   Honorees received handcrafted gourd trophies by local artist Ray Gardner. They also received certificates from the county Board of Supervisors, state Assemblymember Connie Conway, and Congressman Devin Nunes.
   The volunteer ambulance service served Three Rivers from 1956 until 2010, when it dissolved after the State of California issued an administrative ruling that effectively meant the local volunteers would no longer be able to feasibly provide the level of emergency medical care currently required.
   During its 54 years of service, 220 Three Rivers residents participated in some way to the betterment of the local ambulance service. The gathering was akin to a high school reunion with members recollecting past experiences with each other, the difference being that in the midst of making memories and having a few laughs, they were also saving lives.
   They traveled mostly in pairs on all the roads in Three Rivers, into Sequoia National Park, and to Mineral King. Over the years, they delivered patients to Exeter, Visalia, and Fresno hospitals.
   They would leave their jobs or their dinner table to answer a call. So often they knew the person who was requiring aid due to an illness or an accident. And sometimes those friends or neighbors didn’t survive.
Husbands and wives volunteered together, even sisters (Kathy Brown and Cindy Howell). And the willingness to serve carried into subsequent generations (Bernadine Wollenman and grandson John Hanggi). Many started together as strangers, but acquired an unbreakable bond because of the experiences shared.
   In addition to those in the photo caption above, others mentioned at last week’s event were John Hanggi, Bernadine Wollenman, Chet Crain, Art Molina, M.D., A.J. Rice, M.D., Yvonne Langton, Mary Staberg, Kent Owen, Ray Murry, Carol Nickel, Earl McKee III, Chuck Pryor, Tim Howell, Mike Condon, Ginny Stone, Rob Stone, Steve Mayfield, Robert Meeker, Frank Ainley III, Curtis Morgan, and Susie Kimzey.
   None of these or the 200 or so other volunteers ever received any compensation for their dedicated service.
   After more than a half century, the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance Service may be gone, but it will never be forgotten.

Arts Alliance of Three Rivers

announces 2011 workshops

  The Arts Alliance of Three Rivers has launched a diverse art workshop schedule for 2011 with three talented out-of-town artists coming to teach, as well as two local artists. Each workshop has limited enrollment, so those interested in learning something new this year should sign up as soon as possible.
   Workshop details, costs, and registration forms are online at http://artsthreerivers.org/workshops/. For more information, call 561-4671.
Here is the schedule:

Saturday, March 26
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Three Rivers Arts Center
Taught by
Judy Shintani of Half Moon Bay

How often do we create art to honor our well being? In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to focus on health using meditation, writing, art-making, and sharing. We will look at the mandala, the sacred symbol of the circle, and why we will be using it as our foundation.

Saturday, April 30
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Taught by
Elsah Cort
at her Three Rivers home studio

This workshop will introduce participants to making paper, using various materials including recycled paper, dried plant materials, and scraps of this and that. We will learn about the process of simple paper-making, producing paper that can be used for other art projects such as collage, or simply as an artwork itself.


Sundays, May 22 and June 5
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Art Co-Op, Three Rivers
Taught by Kim Elia of Woodlake
Kim will teach combining paper maché and bookmaking to create a personalized sketch/artist journal. Part one will involve design and the paper maché covers. Part two will be about decoration and assembling the books.


Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saint Anthony Retreat,
Three Rivers
Taught by
Amber George of San Diego

Often considered the most spontaneous form of printmaking, monotype is a fun and experimental form of expression. It is closely related to painting and accessible to new and experienced artists alike.


Saturday, Oct. 22
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Three Rivers Arts Center
Taught by Anthony Lawlor,
Bay Area architect/author

This one-day workshop will help participants rediscover their artist’s soul and personal voice as an artist. It is open to anyone interested in deepening their perception of art and/or their ability to create it. The material in the workshop applies to art in any medium: painting, sculpture, writing, music, performance and film.

Who forgot to tell the baby that

she was supposed to wait for the midwife?

By Brian Rothhammer

  As Corey Brouwer drove east from Visalia on Sunday, Jan. 23, he was having a rather uneventful day. Rounding Lake Kaweah with his son Blake, 7, and bags of Chinese food in the car, he was planning on a quiet evening of home and hearth.
   At home in Three Rivers waited wife Jessica with their two-year-old daughter Jayda. Corey and Jessica were also anticipating the arrival of a new family member, and this was her due date.
   Not only were the couple expecting, they had been preparing. With their decision to have a home birth came the responsibility of educating themselves online and by reading books under the expert tutelage of Fresno midwife Detrah E. Hele, L.M.
   In addition, Jessica had been physically conditioning and taking the appropriate vitamins and nutritional supplements to prepare for a healthy birth.
   For Corey’s part, he joked, “I grew up on a dairy farm. Jessica had warned me not to mention ‘pulling a calf’ during her labor.”
Having experienced childbirth before, Jessica knew that a “due date” was an estimate and that the blessed event could still be days or even weeks away. But this one would be right on schedule.
   While the family enjoyed dinner and relaxed by watching TV, the “birth kit” of sterile gloves, iodine, clean linens, and other necessary accoutrement stood on the ready. Suddenly, Jessica leaned her head back and let out a sigh. It was unmistakable to her that the birthing process had begun.
   As she rose to go and take a shower, Corey shifted into high gear.
  “I was going a mile a minute. Grabbing the kit, I hit the room and was going through the supplies when Jessica said, ‘I need you to be calm.’ I found my zen.”
   Corey phoned the midwife, then Jessica’s parents Mike Davis and Carmella Lamb of Three Rivers.
   Mike and Carmella were there within minutes and while Mike tended to Blake and Jayda, Corey and Carmella set up the bedroom for the birth.
   As soon as Jessica was on the bed, her water broke and she started pushing “…every minute or so.”
   Within 10 minutes, Kaya Daisy Brouwer entered the world. The 8-pound, 7-ounce bundle of impatient joy was greeted by her proud father and grandmother in the comfortable surroundings of her new home.
  “That’s when I felt like a doctor. Just call me ‘Doc,’” beamed Corey, though quick to point out that “Jessica did all the work!”
With barely a whimper while clearing her lungs for her first breath, Three Rivers’s newest resident was nursing contentedly in her mother’s arms within moments.
   During the delivery, Jessica could hear Jayda asking her grandpa what was happening, and she called to her, “Mama’s having a baby!” As the midwife arrived, grandpa Mike brought Blake and Jayda into meet their new sister.
   When Corey began to relax, he phoned his mother and said to her, “It was supposed to happen this way.”

VIPs remind 3R residents of services

Anyone who lives alone in Three Rivers may take advantage of a free check-in service provided by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department’s Volunteers in Patrol (VIPs) program.
Upon implementing this service, on-duty VIPs would perform a “good neighbor shut-in visit” to ensure that all is well. These visits would not be at any specific time since the volunteers make their own schedules.
The VIPs are also not authorized to provide transportation or to assist in a home. The service is basically to check on the well-being of the party.
Service request forms are available 24/7 in the lobby of the Three Rivers Post Office. Or call 561-4435 and request that a form be mailed.
VIPs have completed training that covers various operational issues related to the Sheriff’s Office service and the law. Volunteers are not utilized to replace sworn deputy positions, but rather to enhance the efficiency of the agency.
VIPs work throughout the community by assisting stranded motorists, providing traffic control, issuing parking warnings, or checking anything unusual and reporting it to law enforcement. In addition to the shut-in service, they will perform free vacation-house and home-security checks.

TRUS teens raising funds

for Leadership Forum

  Three Rivers School eighth-grade students Terran Brown and Gunnar Little have been selected to participate in the 2011 World Leadership Forum, which will be held in Washington, D.C., this spring. The summit is part of the People to People Ambassador Program developed by Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  “It’s about bringing students together from all over the globe to foster world peace through understanding,” said Gunnar. “If we are going to be positive leaders in our schools or in the global world, we need to be able to listen to each other and learn from those who have come before us.”
   The People to People World Leadership Forum is a six-day educational experience.
   Gunnar and Terran have been earning their own money for the past two years to help with tuition costs. Their most recent project to assist with tuition is to organize a Community Recycling Program. Three Rivers residents are being asked to save their recycling until mid-March when the teens will arrange and announce a drop-off location (or provide for pick-up of recyclables).
   At the World Leadership Forum, Terran and Gunnar will be meeting with select students from around the world engaged in leadership studies and an exploration of some of the most important leaders, institutions, and monuments in American history.
  “As delegates, we will gather in small groups and discuss how successful leaders develop strategies and make decisions that lead to positive change,” said Gunnar.
  “We’ll be exploring places not only in D.C.,” added Terran, “but also traveling to Pennsylvania to see where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg address.”
  “And what’s really cool is that the program builds on what we’ve already learned in Mrs. Despain’s [eighth-grade] class about the branches of government and the Constitution,” continued Gunnar.
   There are some additional perks as well. These students will meet congressional officers on Capitol Hill and attend an Embassy dinner.
Terran and Gunnar were nominated to the program by TRUS educators. They were accepted for this honor based on leadership potential, outstanding scholastic merit, and civic involvement.
  “Volunteering is a big part of leadership,” stated Gunnar. “You have to learn to serve before you can lead.”
   For more information about the students’ fundraising efforts or to arrange for curbside pick-up, call 280-1751.


It’s all in the details:

The many styles of art

  Several months ago, I showed a few of my paintings to a gallery owner. For the first time in my almost five-year painting career, I was told that my paintings don’t have enough detail, that they look as if done plein air (that is French for “on site,” which also translates into   “I’m painting as fast as possible because the light won’t hold still and I can’t possibly be careful at this crazy pace.”
   This description shocked me, because I love detail. Pencil and the detail possible with that humble instrument have held my attention since sixth grade.
   I’ve even been accused of “drawing” with a paintbrush. How could someone possibly think my paintings are lacking in detail?
I strive for accuracy in my paintings. My favorite way to paint is to add layer after layer until every last blade of grass is visible.
   This degree of thoroughness is virtually impossible to attain, both with my emerging (a polite way of saying novice) skills and the need to finish a painting in a timely manner.
   The most commonly known and identifiable styles of art are abstract, realism, surrealism, impressionism, primitive. Abstract does not show recognizable objects and is also called “non-objective” art.
   On the opposite end is realism, which shows things as they appear in real life. Surrealism presents strange subjects as if they were real.
Impressionism is lacking in detail and looks as if the painter didn’t have time to truly study his subject but needed to leave the right impression. Primitive art is childlike with no visible understanding of perspective or proportion.
   In addition to level of detail and texture of paint, style is also defined by subject matter and the use of light and color. A Vermeer is recognizable by the subject of a woman at a task near a window using primary colors and a certain quality of light.
   Monet was known for his water lilies, Van Gogh was known for his irises and sunflowers... and Botkin is known for her oranges!
   One of the reasons it is important to establish a style is to receive commissions. This happens when one’s style is recognizable and consistent.
   If an artist is tinkering with many styles, a potential customer won’t know if a technique can be duplicated or if it was a fluke.
   As I achieve greater proficiency with paint, brushes, and canvas, I’m hoping that my true style emerges. I’m hoping for the detail of Rockwell with the light of Vermeer and the brilliance of Bierstadt.
   When my paintings are as consistently recognizable as my pencil drawings, I will know that my style has been established.
   Jana Botkin paints and writes from her Three Rivers home studio.


Edwin Bilbrey
1953 ~ 2011

   Edwin “Eddie” Bilbrey of Gladewater, Texas, and a former resident of Three Rivers died Friday, January 7, 2011. He was 57.
   Eddie was born May 14, 1953, to Gene and Dolores (Murphy) Bilbrey in San Pedro, Calif. He was a graduate of Three Rivers School and Woodlake High School.
   Eddie was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. Upon retiring from the military, he became a registered nurse.
   Eddie is survived by his parents Gene and Dolores Bilbrey of Gilmer, Texas; his wife, Renae Bilbrey of Gladewater; children Neal Bilbrey of Nebraska, Jason Bilbrey of Oklahoma, Nick Bilbrey of Gilmer, and April Bilbrey of Brussels, Belgium; four grandchildren; brother Jeff Bilbrey of Longview, Texas; sisters Kathy Jamar of Ore City, Texas, and Genny Garmon of Gilmer; and his nieces and nephews.
   Services were held January 12 at Longview (Texas) First Church. Burial was at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Upshur County.
   Condolences may be posted online at www.croleyfh.net.







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
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