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In the News - Friday, February 11, 2011


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Three Rivers sites

wanted for geotourism

  Geotourism is sweeping the travel world. It’s a movement among the traveling public who are concerned about preservation of culture and want to visit more of this planet’s special places.
   But they can’t find these people and places if they don’t have directions. Those directions are coming in the form of online and printed maps; and who better to make these maps than National Geographic?
   The world’s oldest geotourist organization, National Geographic now wants to partner with folks around the world to show off more special places — places like the unique sites, events, and people you might find in Sierra Nevada towns like Three Rivers.
   According to experts like Steve Frisch, president of the Sierra Business Council, the tourist of the next generation will be more likely to visit walkable communities with an emphasis on the outdoors and who want ready access to local culture and history. But that’s no easy task finding these things without comprehensive maps and guides with information on hundreds of each geographical area’s places.
   That’s why in 2009, a partnership was formed between the Sierra Business Council, National Geographic, and the state Sierra Nevada Conservancy to publicize the entire Sierra Nevada region and its diversity, as well as its off-the-beaten-path resources.
   First up were Yosemite gateways and scenic byways in 2009. Then in 2010 it was time to record the Tahoe Emigrant Corridor; now in 2011 it’s the Southern Sierra’s chance to include the mountain areas of Madera, Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties and document their special places.
   Last Thursday evening’s meeting (Feb. 3) at the Comfort Inn in Three Rivers was the kick-off event of a series of public meetings that will bring Three Rivers, Springville, and even some Woodlake locales into the project.
   Here’s how it works. To be considered for the map/guides, resources and community assets must meet basic criteria. If these resources — and they can be a person, place, thing, business, or annual event — has significance that conveys a sense of place, it’s probable that it has what it takes for a geotourism nomination.
   An applicant then fills out a one-page form that includes a category — for example, a historic site — and gives the title, like the Kaweah Post Office, for instance. The location must be mapped giving latitude, longitude, and elevation. Then a couple of brief paragraphs must be written that explain why the resource is special.
   Next, directions are required and other access details. A recent photo is required and contacts like website, mailing address, and phone number.
   Most submittals should only require an hour or two to complete. Technical assistance if needed is available. All Southern Sierra nominations are due by April 30.
   Bobby Kamansky is a project consultant with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and is acting as a local contact for the geotourism project.

  “The Sierra Nevada is the largest region that the project has included to date,” said Kamansky. “Other MapGuide projects in process include Greater Yellowstone, California’s Redwood Coast, Central Cascades, Montreal, Guatemala, Crown of Continent (Alberta, British Columbia and Montana), Peru, Baja California, Sonora Desert (Arizona, Mexico), Vermont, and Appalachia,” Kamansky said. “That puts Three Rivers in some pretty impressive company.”
   Information: www.SierraNevadaGeotourism.org.

County, state updates

at Town Hall meeting

  There was something for everyone at the Monday, Feb. 7, Town Hall meeting. Lee Goldstein, moderator for the regular monthly forum, first introduced Supervisor Allen Ishida who furnished his county perspective on several issues.

County update
   Ishida mentioned the formation of a redistricting committee that will take a look at re-drawing the boundaries of the five supervisor districts. As it stands now, District 1 includes Three Rivers, the public lands all the way to Mt. Whitney, and parts or all of four incorporated cities – Lindsay, Exeter, Farmersville, and Visalia.
   According to one county staffer, that puts the District 1 supervisor in a unique position to concentrate on the long-range issues that can help determine the future of the unincorporated areas. Ishida said one of those big picture issues he’s been working on for the last six or seven years has been county tourism.
   Three Rivers plays a big role, Ishida said, because most of the bed tax (estimated at 75 percent) that is collected in the county comes from Three Rivers. Until recently, he said, all of that money has been going to county fire protection.
   Ishida said that at least 70 percent of the bed tax is still being used for public safety but now approximately 30 percent is going to promote county tourism. Some funding has been used recently to help the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce develop marketing materials and attend travel shows.
   The county now has a tourism department and film commission run by Eric Coyne who explained that to date his efforts have been mostly devoted to the creation of Tulare County’s DiscoverTulareCounty.com interactive website.
  “In 2010, we had more than 300,000 hits on the county’s tourism map and that means we are sending lots of site visitors to local links like Three Rivers,” Coyne said. “These folks ask lots of questions about Tulare County and most want to visit Sequoia National Park. What we are trying to do is get out our message of all that the county has to offer.”
   Another of those big picture issues is the General Plan update. The county has been working on the 2030 version for the past eight years, Ishida said.
   Two of the reasons that the plan has yet to be approved are legal challenges that are a given in the state’s mandated compliance to SB 375/AB 32 laws that deal with climate change and reduction of greenhouse gases.
   Ishida said it’s nearly impossible to get that section of the General Plan to work when there are neither thresholds nor regulations in place to govern compliance. He also said the state is sending mixed signals on how the housing element should be treated in the General Plan. It could mean, he said, that the next generation in Three Rivers would not be permitted to build what they wanted on their own properties.
   Ishida said if the intent of the General Plan is to steer most of county’s development to cities where affordable housing already exists then new projects in areas like Three Rivers would have to meet affordable quotas.
   Tony Boland, transportation service coordinator for the county spoke briefly on how Measure R funds are being used for local road repairs. Future work is scheduled for Eggers, Mynatt, and Skyline drives, Boland said. Skyline work, which is badly needed, would have to wait until next fiscal year after the current water-pipeline replacement project is completed.

State update
   Justin Stoner, district director, spoke on behalf of Assemblywoman Connie Conway. Stoner said the Assemblywoman Conway is the new minority leader and is totally focused on the state’s budget reform.
Rudy Mendoza, a new member of Congressman Devin Nunes’s Visalia office staff, related how constituents can get help. Supervisor Ishida, who pointed out that Rudy is a Woodlake council member, as well as a member of the board of Tulare County Associated Governments (TCAG), is well connected to help locals in a number of ways.

National parks update
   Dana Dierkes, public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, said that plans are in the works for an inter-park shuttle in Sequoia for the busy Presidents Day holiday weekend (February 18 to 21). She also said the current road construction would continue through spring of 2012 with a possible break during that summer.

Where Tulare County began

‘Election Tree’ rededicated

  The Tulare County Historical Society was onsite at the “Charter Oak” last weekend, taking care of some important Tulare County business. Also known as the Election Tree, a gathering took place here Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, just as one did in 1852 and again in 1949.

The formative years
   Located on present-day Road 188 (Charter Oak Drive) at the base of the Venice Hills between Woodlake and Ivanhoe, the “Election Tree” is the general location of the election by which Tulare County was organized on July 10, 1852, less than two years after California became a state. The county was separated from Mariposa County by an act of the state Legislature two months previously.
   The Legislative Act read: “The Seat of Justice shall be at the log cabin on the south side of Kaweah Creek near the bridge built by Dr. Thomas Payne, and shall be called Woodsville until changed by the people as provided by law.”
   Woodsville was named for John Woods, a farmer who had a cabin there. The cabin was designated as the county courthouse by the same Legislative Act.
   Woods was not alive to see this day, however. He and several other men were killed in an attack by the native Yokuts in December 1850; Woods being the last to die after being pulled from his cabin where he had run for refuge and managed to hold off the attackers until his ammunition was gone.
   There was a hotel and saloon in Woodsville, and a post office was granted in 1853. The toll bridge crossed the Kaweah River here and was a busy place as it was on the main road that traveled from Stockton to Los Angeles.
   Major James D. Savage, one of the first members of the county Board of Commissioners (now Supervisors) appointed by the Legislature, organized the election. It was here that voters (51 men) elected Tulare County’s first sheriff, district attorney, clerk, recorder, treasurer, coroner, judge, and surveyor.
   Of the men elected, all were Democrats except for one Whig.
This general area, the delta of the Kaweah River, was also known as the Four Creeks Country. The Election Tree is actually about a half-mile south of the original county seat, but it was July and the weather was hot, so the election was moved to the shade of the large oak.

Documenting county history
   The site is a State Registered Landmark. In 1949, the California Centennial Commission and the Tulare County Historical Society placed a bronze plaque mounted on a slab of granite to commemorate the site.
   In June 2009, it was discovered that the plaque had been stolen. Within days of this crime being reported to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, arrests had been made.
   The suspects had broken down and sold the plaque as scrap. They were eventually convicted and sentenced to prison.
   And, thus, was the reason for the February 5 gathering. A new monument, this time engraved directly into granite, has been erected at the Election Tree by the Tulare County Historical Society and last weekend’s event commemorated that act.
   Delora Buckman, outgoing president of the Tulare County Historical Society, presided. The Sheriff’s detectives who solved the missing-plaque case — Gary Marks and Rob Shimpf — were also present.
   And, of course, there were several in attendance who today hold the County of Tulare elected offices that were created 159 years ago: Bill Wittman, sheriff; Roland Hill, clerk; Rita Woodard, auditor-controller; and Phil Cox, supervisor.

3R celebrates Chinese New Year

  If it’s 1st Saturday, there’s bound to be something creative as the monthly event was developed by artists, for artists. But the February 5 event outdid itself when the young artists at Three Rivers School got involved.
   The theme for this month’s 1st Saturday was the Chinese New Year, which occurred February 3. Under the direction of parent-volunteer Amy Dolcourt-McElroy, with able assistance from Nancy Bloomfield and TRUS parents, the schoolkids created a colorful, six-student-long dragon, traditional of Chinese cultural celebrations.
   On 1st Saturday, it was paraded along Sierra Drive from the school to the main shopping district and then from the post office and around the Village Shopping Center. It was quite a sight, and sound, as drums and noisemakers were also utilized, attracting onlookers all along the way.
   The Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the lunar year. The Chinese mark the occasion with parades, parties, and a long list of traditions intended to bring fortune in the months ahead.
   This is the Year of the Rabbit, so if you could use a little luck, here are some customs to observe:
   Sweep for success— Clean house from top to bottom to expel the dust and disappointments of the past year. Decorate with plants and flowers, symbolic of rebirth.
   Dress for the occasion— Buy new clothes to wear on New Year’s Day to represent new beginnings. And be certain to wear red; it’s considered a lucky color.
   Add luck to the menu— Have dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve with your family, consuming fortune-boosting foods like nian gao (sweet sticky rice cakes), dumplings, and a whole fish, symbolic of progress, togetherness, and abundance.
   Give red envelopes— Red envelopes are typically given to children. The amount of money should be an even digit and is usually a single note to avoid heavy coins.

WHS students compete

at Academic Decathlon

  The Tulare County Office of Education’s Academic Decathlon was held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4 to 5.
   The Academic Decathlon is a countywide student event for grades nine through 12. It is part of the National Academic Decathlon competition.
   Schools field teams of up to nine members divided into Honors, Scholastic, and Varsity categories. Students compete in a series of 10 academic events. The winner in Tulare County — this year, Granite Hills High School (Porterville) — competes at the state level; the state winner competes at the national level.
   Woodlake High School students competed against nine other county high schools, coached by WHS teachers Kevin Skeen and Shaun Summers. WHS students medaled in every category:
   Language and Literature— Lauren Moore, silver; Ezra Graber, bronze; Garrett Fisher, silver; Kelsey Ruehling, silver; Kathryn Keeley, bronze.
   Music— Jacob Dietz, silver.
   Science— Cyrus Graber, silver; Kelsey Ruehling, silver; Kathryn Keeley, silver.
   Art— Kelsey Ruehling, gold.
   Math— Phoebe Castro, bronze; Anthony Caudle, silver; Lauren Moore, gold; Ezra Graber, bronze; Kelsey Ruehling, silver; Xavier Hernandez, gold; Brian Pfenninger, bronze; Kathryn Keeley, silver.
   Economics— Xavier Hernandez, bronze; Jacob Dietz, silver; Brian Pfenninger, bronze; Selena Harrison, silver.
   Essay— Garrett Fisher, silver; Paulina Giacomelli, gold; Kathryn Keeley, bronze.
   Interview— Phoebe Castro, bronze.
   Speech— Phoebe Castro, gold; Joee Denis, bronze; Kathryn Keeley, gold.
   Super Quiz— Jacob Dietz, bronze; Kelsey Ruehling, gold; Daniel Keeley, bronze.
   Best Overall Individual Score for the Varsity Category— Kelsey Ruehling.

World Ag Expo: Representing Tulare County

  The 44th annual World Ag Expo was held February 8, 9, and 10 in Tulare. It is the world’s largest agriculture exposition. This year, 1,600 exhibitors displayed the latest innovations in farm equipment, chemicals, communications, and technology on 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space.
   Free seminars are also held on a variety of topics important to dairy producers, farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness professionals. Cooking demonstrations by California chefs have become a popular attraction at the event.


Confessions of a foodie

By Allison Sherwoodl Millner

Allison Sherwood Millner writes from her home in Three Rivers and works with her husband Dane at their deli Sierra Subs and Salads. She expresses her passion for fresh, fast, and delicious food through her culinary creations and hopes to share it with anyone who has a love for food.
                                     * * *
   What’s for dinner? A question heard around the world by moms and dads alike.
   It’s the question that pops into my head as soon as my eyes open in the morning. What will I make for dinner?
   I have an obsession with food. There, I’ve said it.
   It’s a battle I’ve been waging my entire life; one that, thankfully, I’ve come to control.
   On our first date, Dane, now my husband, offered to make me dinner and drinks at his house. Ding, ding, ding! I’ve hit the jackpot!
   Is it possible that I have found someone who is as obsessed with food as I am? After a few drinks and an incredible meal, it turns out that the answer is no (which is really a good thing); he was just very perceptive and knew the way to my heart.
   Creating good food is something that Dane and I now both enjoy. For me, it’s relaxing at the end of the day to come home and cook a delicious dinner…to lose myself in the food.
   The ability to transform raw ingredients in my fridge into a tasty meal is a talent I’m fortunate to possess. I was always in the kitchen as a child, helping with dinners, which were the central part of our night.
Food brought our family together for a short time each day while we shared our experiences and laughed.
   Before leaving on a recent trip to Europe someone asked me, “What are you most excited for?” Without hesitation I said “THE FOOD!”…and it’s true.
   Sure, getting lost down cobblestone alleys, climbing to the top of the Acropolis, and standing next to the Egyptian pyramids is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. But when those memories fade to just backdrops, I will remember the food.
   The strength and weight of the espresso that barely covered the white porcelain at the bottom of my cup and the sweetness of the tomato sauce with the fresh taste of basil that lingered in my mouth, chasing away the coffee and making room for the yeasty dough and fresh mozzarella to follow.
   It was the smallest cup of coffee we’d ever seen, but combined with pizza at a sidewalk café in Palermo, Sicily, it is one of the most unforgettable breakfasts I’ve ever had.
   It is the memory of food. Tastes and smells and experiences that have been woven throughout my life and now influence how I approach food today.
   What I do with the apples from my produce basket depends entirely on my collective memory of apples. Should I eat them with cheddar cheese and popcorn for a simple dinner, as we did when we were kids, or should I make applesauce?
   If I go with the applesauce I have to make sure that I don’t use too much lemon, because mom did that one time and ruined the sauce.
I could make baked apples, mmm, my grandma’s baked apples. I remember the smell of cinnamon, sugar, and walnuts wafting from the kitchen to the dining room, teasing me as I finished dinner.
   The cold butter pecan ice cream, my gram’s favorite, would melt over the top of the soft, warm apple and pool in the bowl beneath. It was something I always looked forward to and a treat my gram was sure to have ready for us when we visited.
   It is a food memory I will have with me always. I am sharing with you my take on Gram Sherwood’s Baked Apples, hopefully, they will help create some food memories of your own.


6 Granny Smith apples
¼ c. unsalted butter
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. chopped walnuts
1/3 c. raisins or golden raisins
½ t. ground cloves
1½ t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla extract
½ t. salt
¼ c. brandy
¼ c. apple juice

   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. With the stem side of the apple facing up, core down into the apple, angling your knife so that you end up removing a cone-shaped piece of apple. Be careful not to go all the way through the apple to the bottom. If some seeds remain, simply scoop out with a melon baller or grapefruit spoon.
   Melt the butter in a mixing bowl and combine all of the remaining ingredients except the bourbon and apple juice, divide the mixture between the six apples; you should have enough filling to come just up to the top of the apples, covering the exposed insides. Place the apples in a baking dish and pour the brandy over the apples. Add the apple juice to the bottom of the dish and cover.
Bake the apples until soft, about 1 hour. Serve with vanilla (or butter pecan) ice cream and spoon the juice from the bottom of the baking pan over the top.







THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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