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In the News - Friday, February 10, 2012



WUSD board approves own health benefits

  In front of a packed house, the new Woodlake Unified School District trustees approved a health-insurance benefits package for board members by a 4-3 vote. The board split on their decision, lining up by those who had the benefit previously (former elementary board members Ralph Chapman, Helen Renteria, and Joe Hallmeyer voted yes) vs. former high school board members who didn’t (Richard Rochin, Kent Owen, and Edmund Pena voted no).
   The deciding vote turned out to be that of the newest board member George Sanchez, who doesn’t need to take advantage of WUSD’s health insurance package. But, he said, it should be there for board members who need it.
   If all seven of the board members opt to accept the benefits, it could cost the district more than $90,000 annually.
  “I’ve served on the high school board for 16 years and the issue came up three different times,” said Edmund Pena of Three Rivers, one of three of the trustees who came to the unified board via the high school board. “We never felt that compensation for board members should take precedence over the needs of students.”
   Under state guidelines, trustees could legally be compensated per meeting, reimbursed for mileage, and/or receive school district benefits. Two former board members in the audience said those who serve are entitled to some compensation because their job is demanding and thankless.
   Pena said the last member of the high school board who tried to get the benefit package passed was not re-elected. Trustee Owen, also from Three Rivers, did not comment when the motion was made by Chapman and seconded by Renteria, but after the meeting called this current board “dysfunctional.”
   The consensus from a dozen members of the audience that offered comments prior to the vote was not now, not with all the budget cuts. Two current part-time employees of the district said if there are funds to pay for health insurance then it should be offered to staff now limited to a workday of less than six hours, making them ineligible for the health insurance package.
   Two members of the audience described the group insurance package as a “Cadillac” of health plans and that its cost is in line with what other boards compensate their members. The projected budget of the district for the current fiscal year is $22 million so, according to trustee Chapman, the cost is less than one percent of the budget.
   Diana Pearcy, a longtime member of the Woodlake High School Foundation board, told the board that she worries there is a conflict because there are volunteers who work more hours than the trustees do to raise money for programs that the district cannot support in its budget.
  “Compensation for board members just doesn’t look good,” Pearcy said. “We’ve [the Foundation] provided financial support for the high school for the last 20 years even in times when funding was better. Maybe in three to five years funding will get better, but not now.”
Superintendent Hire made it clear to the board that they must now look at the big picture and let the administration know where they want to go and what they want to accomplish as a unified school district. To address these issues, trustees Chapman and Hallmeyer expressed a desire to learn more about what the high school is doing.
   To facilitate the learning curve of the new WUSD board, a series of special work sessions are being planned for evenings and Saturdays where members of the public, teachers, staff, and students will be invited to furnish input. Specific times and locations of the study sessions will be announced at least 48 hours in advance, Superintendent Hire said.

Walkway proposed for town center

  At last Monday’s (February 6) Three Rivers Town Hall meeting, Mignon Gregg outlined plans for a Village Walkway to help furnish safe passage for pedestrians back and forth from Comfort Inn to the Village Shopping Center. Gregg is heading up a committee for the Three Rivers Village Foundation that is exploring designating the shoulder areas along busy Highway 198 in that busy area for improved signage and reflective lighting.
   Those shoulders on both sides of the highway are currently dangerous to walk along, especially after dark. Gregg told the audience that there are options being considered but all depend on whether they meet Caltrans requirements for state highway projects.
   The best option, Gregg said, employs low-profile lighting that works when an oncoming vehicle shines its headlights on reflective strips. Turn pockets would also be employed in the hopes that vehicles making left turns would effectively slow the flow of traffic in the area.
   There are lots of hurdles, Gregg concluded, but there is progress, too.
Lee Goldstein, who chairs the monthly meeting, said that the new “Welcome to Three Rivers” town sign and its location just east of the Horse Creek bridge is currently under review by Caltrans. The new sign should be installed by summer.
   Tom Sparks, who chairs the steering committee for broadband access, reported there is one prototype wireless network already in use along the Middle Fork that is a big improvement over any of the available satellite providers. A local entity is currently developing a wireless, high-speed Internet service and is beginning installation of the new network along the South Fork.
  “Broadband access for rural areas has become a national goal,” Sparks said, “and the steering committee is starting to see some results.”
   It was also reported that the local street repair/paving committee had prioritized their recommendations for the county to be completed after July 1. The highest priorities are Encina Drive adjacent to We Three Bakery and Restaurant; Skyline Drive where the pavement has been damaged by the pipeline project; and more segments of North Fork Drive damaged by overuse and weather.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida reported that Measure R sales tax revenue, which has been generating funds for Tulare County road projects for the past five years, is being threatened by the State of California. He also said he is organizing a special forum for civic leaders and criminal justice experts on March 9 in Visalia to discuss the State’s new prison realignment.
   When asked what the effects of redistricting will have on District 1, Supervisor Ishida said that the district lost Poplar and Cotton Center but gained Woodville and more of Visalia. Rudy Mendoza, a field representative for Congressman Devin Nunes, said as of January 2013, Three Rivers will no longer be in the Nunes district but will move to the district of Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).
   The next Town Hall s scheduled for Monday, March 5. Already on the agenda is a presentation of the new state mandates for recycling by the Consolidated Waste Management Authority.

Snow survey results are 31 percent of average

  In some areas of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, it’s downright scary-dry. Earlier this week, Donner Summit was reporting the driest winter ever recorded for this time of year.
   At the weather station at Norden, typically a good indicator of what’s happening in the current season, there was only 12 inches of snow on the ground in a season that has only produced a paltry 89 inches thus far.
   Those crazy stats were courtesy of Golden West Meteorology, which also said a 69-inch snowpack and 221 inches of total snowfall is “normal” for early February. Norden, in an average year, receives 450 inches of snow.
   Last winter, with the jet stream aimed squarely at Tahoe, Norden recorded 640 inches of snow near Donner Pass, the eighth highest total since 1868. It was most fortunate that all that snow fell because that left most reservoirs in the state in a better position to deal this year, with a 31 percent of normal up and down California as of the February 1 snow survey results.
   In the Kaweah drainage, those stats translate to 22 percent of the April 1 average. At Lodgepole, elevation 6,800 feet in Sequoia National Park, there is currently 18 inches of snow on the ground; the season total for snowfall to date is 30.5 inches.
Ash Mountain, at 1,750 feet in elevation, has received 8.68 inches of rainfall to date; Three Rivers at 1,000 feet has recorded 6.34 inches of rainfall.
   It’s relatively early in the season so there is still time to add more to the totals, especially in the next 60 days. The next chance of showers is forecast for Friday, Feb. 17.

Shop local while shopping at home

By Lisa Lieberman

  As most people in Three Rivers know, it takes a lot of creativity and resourcefulness to survive in a small town.
   Chump’s, the local DVD store, owned by Derek Philp, is a perfect example of this. Recently, in addition to their DVDS and the fax, photocopying, photo digitizing, and UPS shipping services they offer, Chump’s has also opened up an online eBay store.
  “We opened it in November, and it took off immediately,” Derek said.
   The merchandise Chump’s sells online is as eclectic as the people who live in Three Rivers.
  “We get things from all over the world,” Derek continued. “It’s all from Three Rivers, but it’s amazing how much stuff comes from different parts of the world.”
   Items like never-worn, lace-up Brazilian boots, Australian and Western horse saddles, iron art work, ladies’ hats from the 1940s, first edition books, and old cameras and lenses are just a handful of examples of some of the items the store sells.
  “People are really surprised by some of the stuff they see in the store,” Derek said. “We have a Christmas sleigh, which we think is Norwegian and is a couple of hundred years old, and an old tea set.”
   The good thing about the online store is that customers who come in to rent DVDs can also browse some of the actual items. These items have set prices while some items of potentially high value usually go up on an auction site.
   One recent addition to the Chump’s collection is a set of Thomas Edison-style records that come in small containers. Each container has a single song. An example of one song is “I May Be Crazy But I Ain’t No Fool.”
  “You slip each song onto a cylinder, and then there would be a needle that would be played on some kind of a brass horn and the music would come out through a speaker,” Derek explained. “We didn’t know how much they’d sell for, so we thought we’d just start with one of the owner’s collection. Half of it sold out in just one day.”
   The possibilities of the online site are almost endless. Chump’s can sell everything from an old tin can that came out of a gold mine to an old generator that has to be lifted with a backhoe onto a truck.
  “We don’t always have to have the actual item in the store. We just need a photo of it,” Derek said.
   It sometimes takes a lot of research to assess the accurate value of items before putting it up for bid. But for people who need to sell family heirlooms, using eBay can be a much better option than estate sales.
  “People at estate sales look for steals,” Derek says. “People on eBay know what they’re looking for and they’re shopping against other knowledgeable people. This pushes the value up.”
   When he opened the online store, Derek wanted to make a special effort to support local artists and businesses. Chump’s already carries items from local businesses, such as Colors Art Gallery and My Sister’s Closet.
  “Our plan was that people could shop locally at any time of the day or night. So, if it’s midnight and you suddenly remember you have to buy a present for someone, you can buy it right there online,” said Derek.
   In this recent economy, it’s especially important for people to shop locally, reminded Derek.
  “When you buy local, you can pick items up without having to pay for shipping fees, so you save money. You’re supporting local businesses and local people,” he said.
   To start shopping locally from your own home and save on shipping charges by picking up your goods from Chump’s in central Three Rivers, visit http://stores.ebay.com/three-rivers-online.

Woodlake High artists join ‘The Memory Project’

  At Woodlake High School, students in Deanna Bowers’s art class learn all about media, materials, texture, shading, colors, and other aspects of developing the creative mind. But they also have received concomitant lessons in compassion, caring, and global vision, along with a large dose of reality by participating in a nonprofit, nationwide program.
   The Memory Project is a unique initiative in which high school art students create portraits — drawings, paintings, digital art, and more — for children and teens around the world who have been orphaned, neglected, or otherwise disadvantaged.
   To do this, the artists receive photos of kids waiting for portraits and then work from those photos to create the portraits. Next, The Memory Project delivers the portraits to the kids as gifts. Project representatives also take photos of the children receiving the portraits, which are provided to the artists so they may experience the special moment that took place half a world away.
   The goal of the project is to inspire caring, global friendship, and a positive sense of self for both the artist and the young recipient of the art. The student artist can’t help but think about the subject and the life they lead while spending hours creating the portrait.
   The Memory Project was started by Ben Schumacher of Wisconsin while he was still in college. Today, as a teacher, the project continues and more than 4,000 portraits have been delivered to Third World youth, most of whom aren’t even in possession of a baby photo of themselves.
   If this project inspires you to get involved there are financial needs that must be met to continue its success. For instance, teachers must pay $15 per portrait to participate, which helps pay for travel expenses related to the delivery of the portraits. Contact Deanna Bowers, Woodlake High School, 564-3307, for more information.
   The Memory Project, a nonprofit organization, also accepts donations. By mail: The Memory Project, 2163 Gateway St. North, Middleton, WI 53562-3403. Online: www.memoryproject.org/donate.php. All donations are tax-deductible.

It’s classical music that everyone can love

News of the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute

By Bill Haxton

  The Salastina Music Society is leading a new breed of innovative classical musicians who believe there’s something in classical music for everyone regardless of age. Founded by two virtuoso violinists, Maia Jasper and Kevin Kumar, Salastina approaches classical music as pure entertainment. In their hands, it is.
   Their program selections are designed for broad appeal and they love to interact with the audience. The music they play is accessible, but they don’t shy away from the profound. And the way they approach the presentation is nothing short of unique.
   For Saturday’s concert, they’ll be performing Franz Schubert’s majestic String Quintet in C Major. As much as any other chamber composition in history, this piece benefits from some background knowledge — about Schubert’s life, about structure and melody and theme, and about the otherworldly way Schubert captures such a wide range of human emotion and experience.
   It’s tempting to provide this background now, but Salastina will be covering that ground during the concert. This is what they do.
   In the pause between movements, they gracefully let us know what’s coming next, helping us hear a key change here, a change in tempo there, and what might have been in Schubert’s mind and heart while composing the next movement of this immortal Quintet.
   For the new listener and the listener of long experience, both, Salastina liberates classical music from the cloistered cells of academia and makes it completely relevant to our lives today.
   That commitment to broad audience appeal shows up in other ways, too. Recently, they recorded a dramatic reading of Ferdinand the Bull with cinema star Seth Rogen. It’s delightful. You can hear it online; search YouTube Salastina Ferdinand.
   For the Schubert String Quintet, Maia Jasper and Kevin Kumar will be joined by guest cellists Amy Barston and Karen Ouzounian and rising viola star Born Lau.
   Saturday’s concert is sponsored by Century 21 Three Rivers. For more information, visit www.threeriversperformingarts.org.


Remember who you are

By Charlene Vartanian

  Amidst our daily lives, we often forget our connection with our bodies. Our activities, our minds, our emotions send us off in different directions.
   Slowing down, creating space, and allowing time all help us to remember. We focus, we breathe, we reconnect.
   Remembering is a natural process. However, it’s usually best to set aside time to recapture our inherent sense of one-ness. When we have trouble slowing down or are under a lot of stress, it can be helpful to have someone facilitate this process.
   Remembering automatically soothes and grounds us. Remembering happens with all of our self: our mind, our body, and our spirit. Aligning these parts of our self allows us to stay centered in the present moment.
   When we are centered in the awareness of our own body, we can experience our interconnectedness with others. We can recognize that, in spite of our one-ness, we are always held, always surrounded, always in community.
   Remembering simply allows us to enjoy being a part of this wholeness.
   As we maintain a focused center, we allow our breath to flow, our body to relax, and our mind to stop seeking answers. A balancing process occurs. We become quiet inside. The silence of our being brings peace. The joy of remembering is the fruit of life.
   Charlene Vartanian, R.N., has offered CranioSacral massage and bodywork in Three Rivers for 10 years. Visit www.charlenevartanian.com or call (559) 561-4215.


Rodney Ballew
1942 ~ 2012

   Rodney Gerald “Papa” Ballew died Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, at his Three Rivers home. He was 69.
   A celebration of life service will be held in early March. Friends and family of Rod’s should contact Steve or Wendy Ballew for details.
   Rod was born November 18, 1942, in Porterville to Clifford and Dorothy (Whitridge) Ballew.
   During the Vietnam War, Rod served in a U.S. Army M.A.S.H. unit in San Antonio, Texas. Rod’s radiological and medical experience began in Exeter and resulted in a 30-plus-year career with Kaweah Delta Hospital as the head of the Nuclear Medicine Department.
   Rod will be forever remembered for his caring and affectionate outreach to his patients, his infectious laugh, love for his life in Three Rivers, perpetually positive attitude, incredible strength to survive and surpass, and his spirit to encourage those in his life to overcome adversity with integrity and a sense of humor.
   Rod is survived by his two sons, Steve Ballew and wife Wendy of Three Rivers and Ryan Ballew and wife Dawn of San Diego; one grandson (“the light of his life”), Trevor, aka TJ, of Three Rivers; many lifelong friends and extended family; and his beloved cat, Callie.

Allan Marshburn
1928 ~ 2012

   Allan Marshburn of Kaweah died Monday, Jan. 6, 2012. He was 84.
   A graveside service will be held today (Friday, Feb. 10), at 2 p.m., at Three Rivers Cemetery.
   Allan was born January 13, 1928, in Orange County, Calif. As a young adult, he was an active participant in the burgeoning citrus industry in Orange and San Diego counties.
   Allan had an interesting life and had many wonderful stories to tell about his experiences in the Merchant Marines, as an outdoorsman, a game warden in Alaska, and commercial fisherman.
   Allan’s love for the Lord was greatly reflected in his interest and participation in many outreaches proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. He sought to encourage many in their walks with Christ.
   Allan is survived by his sister, Margaret Estes, of Mount Vernon, Wash.; brother Neil Marshburn of Escondido; sister-in-law Martha Marshburn of Visalia; many nieces and nephews; and his “daughter in the Lord,” Virpi Takala of Kaweah.

Janet Hughes
1911 ~ 2012

   Janet Hughes, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in an assisted-living facility in Abilene, Texas. She was 100.
   Jan was born in Kittanning, Penn., on November 23, 1911, to Roy and Nell Bowser. She was raised in Pennsylvania with her three sisters and three brothers.
   Jan graduated from Penn State and enlisted in the Army Air Corps (present-day Air Force). Five of her six siblings also served in the military. Jan was a dietician and in charge of the mess hall at a pilot training school in Georgia.
   Jan married Blake Hughes on December 29, 1937. During her lifetime, Jan traveled to and lived in many different places due to Blake’s engineering career. She resided in Michigan, Venezuela, and Peru (1961-1964) before settling in Three Rivers in 1968.
   Jan was a master handweaver. With her friend, Peg Seaborn, she founded the Loom Room in Three Rivers in 1969. The weaving studio was located in a house on the Seaborns’ South Fork ranch where there were looms in every room, including the kitchen, and yarn stored in the bathtub among other places. The Loom Room was a haven for weavers for several years.
   In addition to her interest in textiles, while in Peru, Jan’s interest in archaeology led her to collecting pre-Columbian Peruvian and Chilean artifacts. Her collection eventually consisted of 630 pieces of textiles and ceramic artifacts that date back to 800 B.C. The “Hughes Collection” is today housed at the Fresno Art Museum after Jan and Blake donated it to the facility in 1995.
   An interesting tidbit about Jan is that she never had her hair cut.
   Jan was preceded in death by her husband of 57 years, Blake, in 1995.
   After 35 years in Three Rivers, Jan moved to Texas to be near her brother, Thomas Bowser. Besides her sibling Tom, Jan is survived by one sister, Rosanna. She and Blake never had children, but she had dozens of nieces and nephews.
   Jan’s final resting place will be the columbarium at Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Abilene.

Eddie Casey
1954 ~ 2012

   Edward Orvil Casey, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, in Tulare. He was 57.
   A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 11), 11 a.m., at Grace Missionary Baptist Church, 445 North H St., Tulare.
   Eddie was born November 6, 1954, in Bakersfield to Orvil Junior and Maxine Delores Casey. He was raised in Tulare County, attending Waukena Joint Union School, Tulare Western High School, and College of the Sequoias.
   Eddie was the owner of Casey’s Auto Parts in Three Rivers from 1986 to 1998. He was also a licensed practitioner of religious science and a published writer.
   Eddie enjoyed camping, gardening, restoring cars, working with children, and music of all kinds. He was a gifted, self-taught mechanic.
   In 2000, Eddie retired to Ukiah. In 2005, he returned to Tulare.
Eddie was preceded in death by his father, Orvil, and sister Charlotte Casey Willbanks.
   Eddie is survived by his son, Rawley Edward Casey, of Exeter; his mother, Maxine Delores Casey of Tulare; sister Louise and husband David Martinez of Tulare; and his nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Sonny Rouch
1919 ~ 2012

   Claud “Sonny” Rouch of Springville died Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. He was 92.
   The Rouch (pronounced “ra-ow”) family first came to Tulare County in the 1870s.
   According to Sonny, “My dad built a sawmill near Balch Creek. I went to junior college for two years and then helped him with the operation of the sawmill.
  “Then I went off to the service. I was four years in the Army Air Corps. I was stationed in South America and at Ascension Island.
  “In 1945, when the war ended, I came back home. Within a week, I went to work building a road to Sequoia Crest [near Camp Nelson] where we started logging. My dad had built a sawmill at Springville where the rodeo ground is now. At that time, we had 100 people working for us in the mill and in the woods.
  “The largest grove of redwoods in private hands is at Sequoia Crest. The largest tree there we named the ‘Stagg Tree.’ It’s the fifth largest giant sequoia in the world.
  “We cut pine and fir, but we never cut redwoods. Ten or 15 years after the logging, the family started subdividing Sequoia Crest.
  “We built roads and put in a water system and we sold at least 200 lots. Now there’s 100 houses there and some unusual property.
  “We never cut any sequoia trees down for houses. Why would we? They were what the people were coming to see.
  “The family still owns over 500 acres. The reason I quit subdividing is that things changed with the County road department. They wanted roads so wide it would have destroyed the country.
  “We had a new subdivision ready to go if we built the roads, but I wouldn’t do it. I just quit.”
   The land on which the Alder Grove grows continues to be owned by the pioneer Rouch family. It is from this grove that a 25-foot-long block of downed giant sequoia wood was donated to sculptor Carroll Barnes of Three Rivers and was transformed into a statue of Paul Bunyan that today is at the entrance to the Three Rivers Historical Museum.

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EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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