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In the News - Friday, FEBRUARY 9, 2007

Wet weekend on the way

   After measuring the paltry snow totals of February 1, the on-again, off-again periods of rain expected this weekend bring hope that Kaweah Country might be in for a significant weather change.
   Although the current series of storms originated in the Gulf of Alaska, the main energy associated with the low pressure is picking up lots of subtropical moisture on the way, and that means that snow levels will be above 8,000 feet. The rainy periods will be very wet but won’t add much to a snowpack that in the Kaweah drainage is 43 percent of the February 1 average.
   Those numbers translate to an even more disappointing 26 percent of the April 1 average. If the cool, dry trend were to continue, this would make the current season the driest since 1990-1991.
   In that drought-like season, only 3.02 inches of rainfall had been recorded in Three Rivers by the end of February. In the current season, Three Rivers should be looking at about twice that number, or roughly six inches by President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12.

  “It’s way too early to preach doom and gloom, but we have yet to experience a really good snow-maker in 2007 for the southern Sierra,” said a National Weather Service forecaster from Hanford.
   In 1991, a two-day series of storms that ended March 10 dumped more than five inches of rainfall and several feet of snow in the nearby mountains. So the season ain’t over till it’s over.

Supervisor steers county dollars

toward Three Rivers

   The more than 100 who attended last Monday’s Town Hall Meeting at the Three Rivers Memorial Building were treated to an informative agenda and the presentation of $500 each to the Redbud Garden Club and the Sequoia Natural History Association (SNHA). Supervisor Ishida used the gathering, sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation, to announce that the grant money was being made available to the local nonprofits from the Supervisor’s Good Works Fund.
   Marge Ewen, who is also a charter board member of the Village Foundation, accepted on behalf of the Redbud Garden Club. She said the money would be used for a new landscaping project at the Three Rivers Post Office.
   Mark Tilchen, executive director, who also serves as the president of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, accepted the SNHA grant. Tilchen said the money would be used to help operate the Beetle Rock Educational Center.
   Speaking of grant money, Supervisor Ishida said, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy would also be making approximately $15 million available to mountain communities for improvements that focus on economic development and preservation. Grants will be considered for trails, waterways, and development that will help towns like Three Rivers become more economically viable.

  “Our board [Sierra Nevada Conservancy] is in the process of writing the grant guidelines, which we hope to have ready by July,” Ishida said. “There will be a series of public meetings in March to hear ideas on how the public would like to see the money used.”
   Supervisor Ishida also announced that as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, he would be delivering the “State of the County” speech at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27. One highlight for Three Rivers, he said, is that he is asking the board to reinvest the county bed tax into tourism. Currently, that money, of which 75 percent is collected in Three Rivers, is being used for countywide fire protection.
   For those who are unable to attend the Board of Supervisors’ meeting in Visalia, the county’s website now broadcasts all the board meetings live.
   Plans have not been finalized with the new Visalia shuttle that is set to begin hauling national park visitors during the upcoming season. At the present time, Ishida said, Visalia officials are looking at some type of reservation system that could be made available for Three Rivers visitors.
   In the future, Ishida said, some central town property with mixed development would be ideal for a shuttle stop. Once the scenic highway designation becomes official, that would improve the potential for a grant to get the project rolling.
   Tom Sparks, spokesperson for the Three Rivers Village Foundation, said county planners would be presenting a protection plan for the scenic corridor at another Three Rivers public meeting in a month or two.

  “What county planners are doing now is comparing the existing ordinances with Caltrans criteria,” Sparks said. “There are already some restrictions that are severe.”
   Sparks said, for example, billboards are already prohibited along Highway 198.

  “There’s still is a lot of flexibility in the scenic highway program,” Supervisor Ishida said. “Nothing is set in stone and a decision can be amended.”
   Alexandra Picavet, public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, announced that the President’s budget has an additional $1.2 million for the local parks. The money, she said, will be used to hire 39 more seasonal employees.
Picavet also announced the hiring of Colleen Bathe, as Sequoia and Kings Canyon’s new Chief of Interpretation. Bathe, who comes to Ash Mountain from Bryce Canyon National Park, succeeds William Tweed who retired last year.
   The Tulare County Planning Commission is currently working on the County’s new General Plan (Feb. 14th meeting) and hearing additional public testimony on medical marijuana (Feb. 28th meeting). The meetings are held every other Wednesday at 9 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.
   For information on how to attend, or an agenda for all upcoming county meetings, log onto the county website at and click on county government or call 733-6291.

Sierra wildflowers

cut from local loom

  “Wildflowers of the Sierra” is a handwoven tapestry that was ceremonially cut from the Three Rivers loom of weaver Sharon Warren at a reception last month.
   The finished piece will serve as the logo for the 26th biennial conference of the Association of Southern California Handweavers, held March 20 to 26 at the Visalia Convention Center. The tapestry will be showcased during the event.
   Sharon created the wool tapestry, which is 41 inches wide and 27 inches in height, on a Fireside floor loom. The project took 18 months to complete.
   Sharon is a member of Kaweah Konnection, a Three Rivers fiber arts and weaving guild that meets monthly. The tapestry was created for the Handweavers of the Valley, one of the ASCH conference hosts and parent organization for Kaweah Konnection.
   Sharon has been a weaver since 1970 when she lived in Canada. She started by spinning the fur of her Samoyed into yarn, which she knitted into a sweater for her husband, and weaving was a natural progression as a means to create with the yarn she was accumulating.
   She then spent nearly 20 years studying color, design, drawing, painting through a variety of college classes.
   Sharon Warren and her husband, Don, moved to the Bay Area in 1973. In 2005, the couple retired to Three Rivers.

Two more VIPs

added to 3R patrol

   What was started in 2002 as a community watch by Glenn McIntyre, and a year later led to the first seven local volunteers completing the Tulare County Sheriff’s academy training as VIPs (Volunteers in Patrol), now has two more Three Rivers graduates. At last Sunday’s ceremony in Visalia, Cherokee Oaks residents Chuck and Frances Hawkins became the 11th and 12th members of the local volunteer force that assist the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, especially in the underserved areas of Tulare County.

  “It was apparent that we had to do something if we wanted law enforcement to have more of a local presence,” said Glenn McIntyre, who was one of the first locals to complete the rigorous 40-hour training in 2003. “We don’t carry firearms, but we do a lot to assist the deputies and are trained to respond to a routine emergency or a natural disaster.”
   The 40 hours of training is offered seasonally at various sites in the Valley over six consecutive weekends. Don Thompson, who became a VIP in 2004, is the current president of the Headquarters Chapter of the VIPs. The Headquarters Chapter, which includes the Three Rivers contingent, has 70 members within its jurisdiction.
   The recent graduating class included a total of 30 who will now be assigned to one of the county’s three chapters of VIPs.
   To find out more about the program or to sign up for the next training, call Don Thompson at 561-4370. VIPs correspondence may be addressed to P.O. Box 911, Three Rivers, CA 93271.


A California High School

Exit Exam survival guide

by Sally Pace

  This is the second year that the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) is required to receive a high school diploma in California. Students may take the test the first time in the spring of their sophomore year.
   Woodlake High School will be giving the test to all sophomores in March. The test has two parts, English and Math.
   Each test is divided into two parts. The English part of the test has an essay portion in addition to the multiple-choice questions.
   Students may NOT use a calculator on the math portion of the test. The test is not timed so a student can take as long as they need to complete the test.
   Each section has 450 points possible; 350 points are needed to pass each part of the test. Once a student has passed the math or English portion of the test, they will not be required to take that test again.
   The best way for parents to help their student get ready for the CAHSEE is to encourage them to do well in school, especially English and math, and to use the study guides provided by the California Department of Education and distributed to all sophomores. Doing a few problems each day with your child will help them understand what is being tested and it will help you as a parent understand what your child will have to know to pass the test.
   If your child has to explain a problem to you, that is even better, because the best way to test what you know is to be able to explain it to someone else.
   All California schools are working on the skills needed to pass the CAHSEE, starting in the lower grades. Students who are targeted as early as junior high as those who will struggle with the CAHSEE are taken out of elective classes to take more English and math.
   As a former Home Economics teacher, I feel that this may be counterproductive, causing some students to just give up.
   Students who fail either part of the test as sophomores have the opportunity to take the test again twice in their junior year, three times in their senior year, and once in the summer after the end of their senior year. Students who do not pass both parts of the test will not receive a high school diploma.
   The students who struggle the most with the CAHSEE are students who do not have English as their primary language. Students who do not speak English at home often seem very fluent when speaking English, but struggle with the grammar and writing skills required to pass the CAHSEE.
   Other students suffer from test anxiety, which can be a big hurdle for many students.
   If a student does not pass the CAHSEE, they may receive a certificate from their high school and participate in the graduation ceremony, but they will need to pass the test in the summer, pass the GED, or attend adult school and pass the CAHSEE to be eligible for California financial aid or for many jobs, including almost all civil service jobs.
   Students will be allowed to attend College of the Sequoias or any other community college without passing the CAHSEE, but COS does not have a program to help students pass the GED or CAHSEE, so they must attend Visalia Adult School for those programs. The GED costs $100 each time the test is taken and may be taken three times in any calendar year.
   If you want further information about the CAHSEE, the website is:
   Parents, consider, how would you have done with this kind of pressure added to all the other pressures of high school?
   Sally Pace retired last year as head counselor and dean of students of Woodlake High School.

Jean Darsey
1921 ~ 2007

   Jean Heather Darsey died Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007, at her home in Three Rivers. She was 86.
   A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 10) at 1 p.m., at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.
   Jean was lovingly assisted through her transition by Charlene Natoli, Grace Klassen, Riet Hoogeveen, Tawny Ringer, and other family and friends.
   Jean was born Jan. 17, 1921, in Reading, England, to John W. and Mae Donaldson-Aiken and returned home to Tavoy, Lower Burma, soon after. The family moved to Huntington Park, Calif., while Jean was a youngster and she graduated from Huntington Park High School.
   On Oct. 17, 1942, she married her high school sweetheart, Cayce H. Darsey. He was serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
   Jean loved being at home raising her children in La Habra Heights. Her love of gardening and rural life blossomed there.
   In 1964, Jean moved to Three Rivers. From 1972 to 1979, Jean returned to Huntington Park to replace her mother as director of the Fox Conservatory of Music. She directed master teachers and taught piano.
   She also served on the board of the Huntington Park Symphony. Throughout her life, Jean enriched many children’s lives through piano and song.
   When Jean returned to Three Rivers in 1979, she resumed her community involvement to her delight and to the enrichment of the community she loved. She awoke with a song, blessing each new day.
   Her community activities included being secretary of the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce, three-time president of the Three Rivers Woman’s Club (1970, 1986, 1987) and the Redbud Garden Club (1970, 1971, 1983).
   Also as a member of the Redbud Garden Club, Jean was a longtime chairwoman of the Beautification Committee, which has been responsible for the planting of trees and other vegetation along Sierra Drive and also honors residential gardeners with beautification awards.
   Jean was the program chair for the Three Rivers Senior League for many years and was a Three Rivers Community Plan volunteer. She also was a Lady Angler, Koffee Klan bowler, a member of the Spanish Club, and a lifetime member of the Three Rivers Historical Society.
   For nearly 13 years, Jean wrote the monthly “Garden Goodies” column for the Three Rivers newspaper, passing along timely gardening tips and tidbits.
   In her Sept. 20, 2002, column she wrote:

  “I am starting the 12th year of Garden Goodies… Little did I imagine that they would last so long, or me either, for that matter! But, here I am, and I do hope that my readers enjoy this gift to them each month.”
   Jean will be remembered by many for her love of natural beauty, quick wit, true grit, and organizational excellence.
   Jean was preceded in death by her husband, Cayce, in 1982 and her beloved son, Kevin Darsey, in 1986.
   Jean is survived by her daughters, Sheila Darsey of McIntosh, N.M., Susan Darsey and partner Ed Mergler of Three Rivers, and Kathleen Johnson of Twentynine Palms; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
   In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Hospice of Tulare County (900 W. Oak Ave., Visalia, CA 93291), the Community Presbyterian Church music fund (P.O. Box 685, Three Rivers, CA 93271), or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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