this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
Stewart (right) as seen from the Generals
miles inside the Sequoia National Park
of oaks underscores
For the second consecutive
Town Hall meeting, several Three Rivers
residents expressed their concern at the
destruction of a large stand of mature
oak trees that were recently cut and cleared
from commercial property adjacent to the
old Indian Restaurant site and the Comfort
Inn. A vocal contingent present at the
meeting wanted to know why there was no
official county policy to either prevent
or mitigate a property where scenic oaks
or woodlands are destroyed.
Laurie Schwaller of Three
Rivers read a letter to the gathering
that she planned to mail to the landowner
protesting the cutting of the oaks. She
invited anyone interested to also sign
the letter or write another one.
David Claxton, chief planner
with Tulare County, was present at the
Monday (February 2) evening meeting to
present an update on the Kaweah Scenic
Highway proposal. Claxton said there really
isn’t much as to a specific county
ordinance, but the County’s new
general plan contains an oak management
plan that mandates when oaks are removed
they are required to be replaced.
But Claxton also said that
the County’s input relative to oak
trees was only effective when grading
permits are sought or as a part of site
plan review, which is required for new
“At last Wednesday’s Planning
Commission meeting, staff were directed
to begin the process for drafting a county
oaks ordinance,” Claxton said. “The
ordinance will require some staff time
so a draft can specifically address your
concerns. The final version of the ordinance
would, in effect, establish official county
Protecting oaks is just one
example, Claxton said, as to why these
planning efforts — corridor protection
plan, Three Rivers Community Plan, and
an oaks ordinance — all fit together.
“When you think about the scenic
highway, think about it as protective,
not restrictive,” Claxton said.
“If you don’t put some of
these regulations in place, you will have
more intrusions like trees being taken
out. Look at an oaks ordinance as protecting
the community, not overregulation of your
Relative to the timetable
on the Kaweah Scenic Highway, Claxton
said he is still waiting on the specific
comments of Caltrans.
When asked if the area that essentially
contains Three Rivers could be exempted
from inclusion in a scenic highway, Claxton
said he’s already been told that
Caltrans will not support an application
that exempts Three Rivers.
“The best way to understand what
we want to protect and where we want to
go with regulation of things like signage,
lighting, and ridgetop development is
to address these items in the Three Rivers
Community Plan,” Claxton said.
In the works, Claxton said,
are some upcoming workshops on the Three
Rivers Community Plan. The new plan, he
said, has essentially the same goals as
the 1980 plan but with more teeth in it
so it is enforceable.
Alexandra Picavet, Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks public
information officer, provided an update
on activities in the parks. She said that
funding is in place for reconstruction
of eight more miles of the Generals Highway
to begin sometime after the contract begins
on March 30, weather permitting.
All work is scheduled to
be completed by November 2 and there will
be no delays on holidays or weekends.
The delays should only be minimal to most
park visitors because the section of highway
being completed is located between Wolverton
and Little Baldy.
The next Town Hall meeting
is scheduled for Monday, March 2.
Septic shock causes
Board to reschedule
The proposed regulations
calling for inspections of all septic
systems every five years at a projected
cost of $325, and even more stringent
and costlier measures for broken systems,
finally has the attention of a coalition
of rural stakeholders.
The latest outcry against
the amendments to AB 885 (see “SWRCB
takes aim at septic tanks,” THE
KAWEAH COMMONWEALTh, page 1, January 30,
2009), which was scheduled to take effect
next January, now has the State Water
Resources Control Board (SWRCB) looking
to reschedule key parts of the project’s
A loud, concerted, “back
off” message was sent to Sacramento
officials when an overflow crowd showed
up for last week’s Santa Rosa workshop
that was one in a series scheduled from
Redding to Riverside to gather public
input (the closest meeting to Kaweah Country
was held last month in Fresno, so local
media outlets were not noticed). Because
of the huge turnout, the Santa Rosa workshop
has been rescheduled for two sessions
on February 9 and moved to a bigger venue.
Owing to that rescheduling,
a public hearing on the regulations that
had been slated for Monday, Feb. 9, in
Sacramento, has also been postponed until
the new regulations have been redrafted.
The public will be officially noticed
of a new date and time for the hearings.
The rescheduling has also
caused the public comment to be extended
until February 23, 2009. All written comments
will be incorporated into the draft Environmental
Impact Report (EIR) that are received
by 12 noon on that date. Comments should
be emailed to: AB885@waterboards.ca.gov.
In light of the large number
of comments received to date, SWRCB officials
were already considering postponing the
The public hearing will be rescheduled
to hear testimony on the revised regulations.
The written and oral comments play a critical
role in determining the scope of and when
the regulations are adopted.
There are an estimated 1.2
million septic systems in California that
under current law are only required to
be inspected when they are first installed.
They are largely forgotten until there’s
a messy backup or a leak causes a pollution
The new regulations are timely,
according to proponents, because as California
searches for more clean water, it can
ill afford leaky household systems that
contaminate water sources.
Documents pertaining to the
regulations, including the draft EIR may
be obtained from the State Water Resources
Control Board website at: www.waterboards.ca.gov
(click on Septic Tanks-AB 885) or by calling
Todd Thompson, (916) 341-5518, or Gita
Kapahi, director of public participation,
3R gas prices edging
Oil futures fell this week
but pump prices edged slightly higher.
A report released by the feds on Monday
revealed some worry over a pending refinery
strike that could affect more than one-half
of the nation’s capacity to refine
oil into gasoline.
Futures remain mired between
$38 and $48 a barrel, analysts said, despite
efforts by producers to scale back production
in an attempt to shore up prices. That’s
a far cry from the July 2008 record of
more than $147 a barrel.
But what’s it all mean
to the consumer at the pump? The numbers
translate to a rise of 5.4 cents nationally
for a gallon of self-serve regular to
$1.892 according to the Energy Department’s
In California, the rise was
1.6 cents per gallon to $2.113 a gallon.
In Three Rivers, the prices remain steady
between $2.299 and $2.399.
A year ago, the statewide
average was $3.107 per gallon while last
summer, local prices topped $4.50 per
Prices dropped dramatically last fall,
bottoming out in Three Rivers at just
under $2 before Christmas.
Save ‘Box Tops’ for TRUS
In these tough economic times,
every little bit of money can help, especially
for a small school like Three Rivers Union.
The Box Tops for Education program has
earned TRUS over $1,200 in the past two
Each qualifying “Box
Top” collected is worth 10 cents.
Box Tops are found on hundreds of common
brand-name grocery store items. This money
goes into the student council fund, which
directly benefits the students.
“I want to thank all of the students,
families, and community members who faith
fully clip and save Box Tops for our school,”
said Sue Schwarz, who organizes the effort.
“But, we could use more help.”
There is a Box Tops for Education
collection bin located in the Three Rivers
Post Office for everyone’s convenience.
Clip Box Tops coupons and drop them off
at the post office or TRUS office.
Or, if you know a Three Rivers
student, they would appreciate you providing
them with Box Tops because there are monthly
contests to see which classroom can bring
in the most Box Tops.
Another easy way to earn
money for Three Rivers School is to login
to the www.btfe.com
website. Once registered for TRUS, you
can click on “Marketplace”
and route to a variety of vendors such
as Lands End, Cabela’s, Office Depot,
Target, and many more.
Then, any purchases you make
online means that these vendors will contribute
one to three percent of the purchase price
to Three Rivers School. It’s free,
it’s easy, and it will help support
TRUS and its students.
For more information about
the Box Tops for Education program, call
Sue Schwarz, 561-3042.
for Sheriff's VIP academy
VIPs are the Tulare County
Sheriff’s Department “Volunteers
in Patrol.” They are trained to
be extra eyes and ears for the Sheriff’s
Department and serve in a variety of ways.
Currently, there are 13 VIPs
who live and serve in Three Rivers. Some
of their listed duties that apply to this
—Any service requested by a peace
officer of the county.
—Home patrol checks during a resident’s
absence or for someone who lives alone
and would appreciate a stop-by-check occasionally.
(Request forms are available in the Three
Rivers Post Office lobby.)
—Traffic control during an emergency.
—Assisting stranded motorists.
—Crime scene perimeter assistance.
—Area patrolling with the purpose
of observation of anything unusual that
needs the attention of an officer.
VIPs who also serve in the
valley are primarily responsible for transporting
documents to courts, substations and government
offices; transporting patrol vehicles
for servicing; area patrolling; and providing
basic office assistance.
The next Academy is scheduled
for March, and applications are being
accepted now. To become a VIP, submit
an application (available online at www.tularesheriff.info
or from any VIP). After a background check
and interview, the candidate attends a
five-Saturday Academy presented by the
Sheriff Department. This community volunteer
service is a great asset to Three Rivers
and the entire county. Since the VIP program
began in 1993, approximately 100,000 volunteer
hours have been tracked.
According to Sheriff Bill
Whitman, this frees about $500,000 a year
for the county Sheriff’s budget,
allowing the purchase of more safety equipment
for officers. In addition to adding extra
patrol vehicles on the roads, this is
a positive and tangible financial effect
provided by volunteers.
Consider joining this dedicated
group of Three Rivers VIPs. If you have
any questions, contact Clancy Blakemore
by calling 561-4435 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woman of the Year
A Three Rivers senior at
Woodlake High School will receive a Youth
of the Year award at Woodlake’s
annual awards banquet that honors extraordinary
citizens. Jordan Vieira was chosen by
the selection committee to be honored
with the Youth of the Year award along
with a female counterpart, senior Liliana
Other honorees are:
Man of the Year— Mike
Woman of the Year—
Spirit of Woodlake—
Lifetime Achievements Award—
Business of the Year—
Valley Business Bank.
The award winners, except
for the Business of the Year, are selected
by an anonymous committee made up of an
appointed member from several groups and
agencies in Woodlake who review present
year’s nominees, as well as those
nominees from the past two years. (Business
of the Year is selected by the Woodlake
Valley Chamber of Commerce.)
The 47th annual dinner banquet,
scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 28, is hosted
by the Kiwanis of Woodlake. The event
will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m.
at the Woodlake Memorial Building.
Tickets must be purchased
in advance and are $20 per person. Tickets
are available at Woodlake High School
(see Frances Mann) or Woodlake City Hall
or by calling 564-2054 (Sally Pace), 679-0795
taught ‘Wise Traditions’
In November, Anore Jones
and Teriz Mosley, South Fork neighbors
and ranchers, hosted a seminar on the
benefits of raw milk. Anore and Teriz
are the organizers of a Three Rivers chapter
of Wise Traditions, an organization that
emphasizes traditional foods, farming,
and healing arts.
The event was held on the
Mosleys’ ranch and hosted about
35 local residents who gathered to hear
a presentation by Mark McAfee. Mark, the
owner of Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno,
is an expert on the benefits of raw milk
and its place in a whole foods diet.
The dairyman discussed the
differences between raw milk and commercially-processed
milk and addressed the health concerns
associated with drinking raw milk.
Organic Pastures raw milk
is available through Family Farm Fresh,
a local CSA that delivers to Three Rivers
Additional Wise Traditions
seminars are planned. For information
about the chapter, call Teriz, 561-3637.
Mary Famisaran of Three Rivers
was the winner of the Visalia Farmers
Market’s monthly raffle in January.
As a result, she received complimentary
produce and other products donated by
vendors. The Saturday Farmers Market is
held year-round from 8 to 11:30 a.m. in
the Sears parking lot. The Thursday evening
market, held in downtown Visalia, is scheduled
to restart for the season March 12.
No smoke is good smoke—
Woodstoves and fireplaces are a source
of both indoor and outdoor air pollution.
They produce carbon monoxide, nitrogen
dioxide, and other harmful chemicals,
as well as fine particles that you inhale.
Since 1990, the EPA has required
all new woodstoves to use “clean-burn”
technology, so they are safer, more efficient,
and less polluting than they used to be.
If your stove is old, you should upgrade
to an EPA-certified one, which releases
far less smoke than old models (2 to 5
grams of particulates an hour versus 40
to 60 grams).
Make sure your woodstove
is properly installed and vented. You
should not smell smoke or see much smoke
from the chimney. Woodstoves, fireplaces,
and chimneys should be inspected and cleaned
—Use seasoned wood. Wood should
be dried and stored outside for at least
—Don’t burn treated or pressed
wood, plywood, or driftwood. Don’t
burn garbage, cardboard, plastics, or
anything with colored ink, paint, or glue
on it. These can all produce toxic fumes.
—If you use a fireplace, consider
installing an EPA-certified insert, which
will make it as efficient as a woodstove
(an open fireplace is a net energy loser).
An insert will reduce fuel use and pollution.
stories and so much more in the weekly
print edition of The Kaweah Commonwealth.