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In the News - Friday, February 12, 2010

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

See special section: SIGNS OF THE SEASON (PDF)

THE MAGICAL GIANT FOREST in Sequoia National Park is currently resplendent with more

than five feet of snow. More snow is expected in the next 45 days, often the wettest period

of the season.

Snowstorm knocks out cable TV

  Two years ago it happened during the Super Bowl. This week, the cable-broadcast service waited until one day after the big game to turn to fuzz, but for a time it appeared that the Winter Olympics coverage might be in jeopardy.
   The storms that passed through last weekend dumped two more feet of snow on Blue Ridge at 5,733 feet in elevation. That’s the site where Charter Communications maintains their broadcasting dishes to have a clear transmission path for the cable signal to find the Kaweah canyon repeater. The local repeater is situated at 1,000 feet on Barton Mountain.
   According to Richard Newman, Charter’s chief troubleshooter, in addition to the company’s transmitters going down, the storm also knocked out power to the Blue Ridge site. After crews ploughed their way in through as much as four feet of snow on the site’s dirt road, they noticed that the backup generator wasn’t running.
   Evidently, someone had previously stolen the battery to the generator so that zapped all the auxiliary power to the site, too.
   The bottomline was that for hundreds of Charter subscribers, there was no cable service for nearly three days.
   After several forays to both the Blue Ridge site and to Three Rivers, the technicians were able to restore service on Wednesday, Feb. 10, two days prior to opening ceremonies at the Vancouver Winter Games on February 12.

Let it snow! Good news for the region...

  More data is in from the early February snow surveys, and for water watchers it’s some of the best news in years. The percentage totals for the Kaweah drainages as of February 1 have been revised and now are reading an average of 150 percent of normal for the season-to-date.
   The Generals Highway across the Little Baldy summit, which links Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is closed between the parks but visitors may access the Grant Grove area via Highway 180. At Montecito-Sequoia, the area’s premier Nordic skiing destination, the ski shop is reporting excellent conditions.

  “Where the snow has been compacted we have a base of six to 10 feet,” said Ben in the ski shop. “On the ridges, it’s more like 10 feet.”
   Sarah Jean at Montecito’s front desk reported that the area received another 18 inches of powder from the recent storms. She described the current snowpack as “crazy-huge in some places.”
   A day pass for access to Montecito-Sequoia’s groomed trails is $25 and includes a hearty lunch. As of Wednesday, there are no road escort restrictions in effect. For the latest conditions, call the front desk at 565-3388.
   In the nearby mountains, the Farewell Gap station at 9,500 feet in Mineral King is reporting 88 inches of snow on the ground with daytime temperatures in the 30s. The water content of that snow is measuring nearly 27 inches.
   In the upper Mineral King valley, there is 78 inches of snow on the ground with temperatures ranging between 18 and 42 degrees. At Lodgepole, park rangers are reporting 80 inches at the snowstake adjacent to the visitor’s center.
   The current rainfall totals for Three Rivers are just slightly above 14.60 inches for all reporting stations. With the 45 wettest days of the season still ahead, Three Rivers and the nearby mountains are on track to eclipse the April 1 norm for the entire season.

New superintendent will be

introduced at Sequoia Speaks

  The Sequoia Speaks series this Saturday (Feb. 13) features a timely program entitled “Women in the National Parks.” Adrienne Freeman, this week’s speaker, will introduce Karen Taylor Goodrich, the park’s new superintendent and first woman to hold that top position at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   The speaker series, now in its third season, is in the fourth consecutive Saturday of six scheduled presentations. The programs are held at the Three Rivers Arts Center from 7 to 8 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

  “The series has been a great way for the people who work in the local parks to share their knowledge and experiences with the Three Rivers community,” said Adrienne Freeman, the parks’ public information officer. “These programs are another way for all of us who live and work here in Three Rivers to get to know each other a little better.”
   Adrienne Freeman, who came last year to Ash Mountain from Yosemite National Park on a temporary assignment as public information officer, really hit the ground running. The Boston University graduate has lots of experience working with media and gateway communities so a Three Rivers fit comes naturally.

  “It’s been a really nice change from the more frantic pace of Yosemite,” Adrienne said recently.
   In Saturday’s program, in addition to introducing Taylor-Goodrich, who is making her first public appearance here, Freeman hopes to place the role that women have played in the national parks in some historical perspective. There are epic stories of individuals and the making of park units where the contribution of women may be better understood, Adrienne said.
   One example of a courageous crusader that Adrienne will mention is Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Douglas (1890-1998) was a journalist, acclaimed author, feminist, environmentalist, and a staunch defender of the Everglades. It was her landmark book The Everglades, River of Grass, published in 1947, that redefined this wondrous ecosystem from worthless swamp to a treasured natural resource.
   The Everglades work, often categorized with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, became a call to action for the environmental movement of the 20th century. Douglas was staunch defender of the Everglades until the day she died at her Coconut Grove home at the spry old age of 108.
   There are several National Park Service-administered units that pay tribute to the contributions of women. An NPS site in Seneca Falls, N.Y., commemorates the birthplace of the women’s rights movement.
   A locally managed example is the Susan B. Anthony House, a National Historic Landmark in Rochester, N.Y. Anthony was arrested in 1872 for voting and became the best known leader of the women’s suffrage movement.
   Her courageous actions led to the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that gave the right to vote to all women.
   Women’s rights have always been a struggle, Adrienne pointed out, and that struggle continues to this day.

  “Women have also been raising a voice in this nation’s conservation movement,” Adrienne said. “Garden clubs have for many years been advocates for conservation and preservation of natural and cultural resources.”
   In the NPS, it was not until the 1990s that women began to make real progress in gender equality, Adrienne said. Her talk, she said, will reveal some interesting facts as to how many women have served as superintendents and in other key NPS management positions.

Protection denied for the pika

Federal officials have decided not to provide endangered species protections to the American pika, a tiny mammal thought to be struggling because of climate change. In a decision posted Thursday, Feb. 4, on its website, the Fish and Wildlife Service said that while some pika populations in the West are declining, others are not.
The agency said Endangered Species Act protections are not warranted.
Pikas, cousins of the rabbit, live in boulder fields surrounded by meadows on mountainsides in 10 western states, including California’s Sierra Nevada.
Pikas do not hibernate, but remain under boulder piles during the cold, snowy winters at high elevations, protected by their dense, insulating coat of fur. The dense coat that protects them in winter makes them vulnerable to heatstroke during the summer.
Pikas spend summers gathering flowers and grasses and store them in “haypiles” for food to sustain them through winter. Though they weigh only a third of a pound, the tiny animals must collect more than 60 pounds of vegetation to survive the winter.
As temperatures warm pikas are forced to move upslope. In some places, scientists say, the pika has run out or room to migrate to a higher elevation and populations have disappeared.

Proving there is an iPhone app for everthing:

'Scare Bear Trail Companion'

  A New Jersey man has developed a downloadable application for the Apple iPhone specifically targeted at shooing away bears. The “Scare Bear Trail Companion” application costs 99 cents to download and provides digital sounds meant to frighten away bears on hiking trails.
   It gives users the option between the sound of an airhorn, bear bells, hands clapping, or rocks shaking in a tin can, each activated by shaking the phone.
   But the volume goes only as high as the iPhone’s master volume control does, meaning the decibel level Scare Bear reaches is a fraction of actually blowing an airhorn or ringing a bear bell or, for that matter, yelling.
   To cover liability concerns, the download categorized Scare Bear as a “novelty item.”
   Black bears, by nature, are not aggressive toward humans and generally will run away if they hear people coming. If you do happen to cross paths with a bear, which would you rather do?
   (1) Take your pack off your back, unzip it, dig around for your iPhone, scroll for the Scare Bear app, approach the bear to ensure he can hear the noises, then start shaking the phone; or
   (2) Start clapping and yelling immediately.
It is important to notice, however, that people are working on innovative ways to stay safe around bears and keep the bruins wary of humans. Education is key in this movement.
   Remember, no matter what, never, ever feed a bear. That could cause a bear to become increasingly aggressive in its attempt to attain human food, which could lead to injury to people and the death of the bear.

Go South of the Border

during TRUS dinner

  The Three Rivers School seventh-graders will add a Mexican flare to the annual dinner that traditionally precedes the Eagle Booster Club’s Volunteer Recognition Night. This year’s event will be held Wednesday, March 3.
   Tickets are now on sale for the Festive Fajita Dinner. Takeout dinners will be available from 4 to 5 p.m. The sit-down meal will be served from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
   Beef and vegetarian selections will be available. Live entertainment will be provided by Faena Brava.
   Advance tickets may currently be purchased at the TRUS office or at Lazy J Ranch Motel. Tickets will also be available at the event.
   Adult dinners are $9 for adults; children 10 and under are $7.

  Volunteer Recognition Night: All members of the community are invited to attend the Volunteer Recognition Night presentation, which immediately follows the Festive Fajita Dinner. This event has been a community tradition since 1951.
   It began as part of the National PTA’s Founders Day recognition program and for the past 60 years has honored one or more Three Rivers residents who have volunteered or worked at Three Rivers School.
   In 2004, the event was renamed Volunteer Recognition Night after membership in the PTA was discontinued and the Eagle Booster Club was founded.


'My single-most favorite recipe'

by Tina St. John

Editor’s note: Regular readers of this column will know that Tina St. John was raised in a large family with nine children. For the next several installments of her “Welcome to my food column,” she will highlight one of her siblings and their all-time favorite recipe. Tina said she wants to show “what came out of a home where food preparation was such a big part of how we lived.”

This week: Mary

   This week’s “My single-most favorite recipe” is from sibling number two. Actually, it’s recipes, plural, which is no surprise with this beloved sister.
   Mary, or as we all call her, Maharha, is a cook, housewife, mother, sewer extraordinaire, guitar player, and just about anything else you can think of that’s legal and pure. Ha!
   The oldest of the sisters, she was the leader of the sisterhood pack in our house. She was the first to get into more serious older-kid trouble and the first to date, to wear the latest fashions, to discover the art of sneaking out, to go to prom, to graduate. You get the idea.
I idolized her in every way because as her younger sister, I thought she knew everything.
   When I was very young, I remember carrying her graduation picture around with me to show her off because I thought she was the prettiest sister anyone could have. I had to have proof.
   Mary now lives with her family in North Carolina and sends wonderful packages of homemade goodies every year around the holidays. Bless her heart, she never misses a beat.
   When asked to submit her favorite recipe, she sent two: Her secret Sunflower Seed Dressing that is no longer a secret and her Triple Decker Carob Brownies. Yum!
   Bon Appetit!
  In two weeks: Part Four of “My single-most favorite recipe.”


1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups water
1 tsp hing (Asafoetida) (from an ethnic or Indian foods store)
2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. dill

Blend thoroughly in a Vitamix or blender.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1½ tsp. soda

6 cups oats
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2½ cups melted butter

Stir and spread evenly on large sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

After the crust cools slightly, top with:

2 cups carob powder
2 cups butter
6 cups sugar
1½ cups yogurt

Mix all ingredients till light and creamy, then add:
4 cups flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1½ cups milk
1½ tbs. vanilla

Pour onto crust. Bake for 50 minutes.

When cool, spread frosting on top (powdered sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and almond extract).


Allan Philp
1921 ~ 2010

   Allan Bailey Philp, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. He was 88.
   A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 6, at 10 a.m., at the First Presbyterian Church, 215 N. Locust, Visalia.
   Allan was born September 20, 1921, in Davis, where he spent his childhood. While attending the University of the Pacific, he met and married Marian Sill, the absolute love of his life.
   After graduating from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, Allan and Marian relocated to Ross, Calif., where Allan’s legacy of service began.
   It was during this time that their first son, Mark Allan, was born. Not long after, the family moved to Bend, Ore., where Allan enjoyed his second pastorship and where they welcomed the birth of their second son, David Lockhart.
   In their next life adventure, the family moved to Visalia, where Allan became the minister of the First Presbyterian Church. It was during this time that Allan and Marian made a trip to Japan, where he briefly served a small church in Oji.
   During this visit, they befriended Marian’s translator, Yuko, who eventually moved to the U.S.A. and lived with the Philp family while she attended the College of the Sequoias in Visalia and Fresno State University. It was the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.
   After nine years, the family relocated to Sacramento, where Allan continued to serve the needs of his church. In 1987, Allan retired from Bethany Church, and he and Marian moved to the property of their son, Dave, and his wife Jane in Three Rivers.
   It was here that they built the home of their dreams. Designed by their son Mark and built by Dave, the Japanese-style home was an homage to the country they had learned to love.
   Their new home provided an opportunity to relax, enjoy the view, and connect with family. Allan also continued his service to the church by working as an interim pastor at both the Fresno and Three Rivers Presbyterian churches.
   In 2002, Allan and Marian moved to Quail Park Retirement Home in Visalia due to Marian’s health needs. Marian preceded Allan in death in 2007.
   He remained at Quail Park until June 2009, when he moved to Chaste Tree Park. His last year was spent in the company of old and new friends, an incredibly caring staff, and a family who loved him dearly.
   Allan will be remembered by people whose count is immeasurable. He was a pillar of strength, comfort, and love to those who needed him. He will live on in the memories of the lives that he touched.
   Allan is missed by his sons, Mark and wife Diana Clauss of Phoenix, Ariz., and David and wife Jane Cheney of Three Rivers; his grandchildren Stacy Varni and husband Tony of Clovis, Derek Philp of Three Rivers, Zachary Philp of Phoenix, and Joel Cheney-Philp of Denver, Colo.; and great-grandchildren Macy, Janessa, and Paige Varnia of Clovis.

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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