this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
Monday, Feb. 9, snow blanketed the Hospital
at 2,700 feet elevation and six miles
up the Generals Highway
the Sequoia National Park entrance.
area received additional snowfall Wednesday
more is expected Sunday and during next
line up to
The current series of cold
Pacific storms is producing lots of rain
and snow throughout California, and that’s
great news after a mostly sunny and dry
January. In the nearby mountains at 7,000
feet there is more than five feet of snow
on the ground and at least one to two
feet more feet of the precious white stuff
is expected during this weekend.
As of Thursday, Feb. 12,
Lodgepole rangers reported 66 inches at
the stake and a total 22.41 inches of
precipitation for the season. In Grant
Grove, there is currently 33 inches on
the ground and that area has received
19.42 inches of precipitation during the
Ash Mountain has recorded 13.30 inches
of rainfall to date in the current season.
The environs around park headquarters
received a dusting of snow on Thursday
morning; chain-ups for travel on the Generals
Highway to Giant Forest were required
for most of the morning in the vicinity
of Hospital Rock.
More rain and snow, heavy
at times, is expected throughout the weekend.
A winter storm warning will be in effect
for the nearby mountains throughout the
weekend and into the work week.
VALENTINE’S DAY ‘09
made in cyberspace
She’s 28 years old
and a country girl born and raised, who
has lived all her life in Three Rivers.
He’s 30 and a fifth-generation rancher
from Gothenburg, Neb.
And tomorrow — Valentine’s
Day 2009 — April Klocke and Casey
Peterson will embark on the adventure
of their lives as they are pronounced
husband and wife by Pastor Larrie Palmer
at the Church at Kaweah. And according
to everybody who knows the couple, it’s
a match made in heaven.
April met Casey on the popular
Internet matchmaking site eHarmony.com
about one year ago to the day. All that
sophisticated computer analysis led the
couple to each other and convinced both
that a life of harmony was within their
According to April, the eHarmony
process, the visits to and from Nebraska
and California, and the fact that the
farming business slows down slightly during
the cold Nebraska winter made it destiny
that the nuptials be held on Valentine’s
But it wasn’t as easy
as it sounds, at least not in the beginning
of April’s search for Mr. Right.
“I’d be the first one to admit
that it’s not easy being single
in Three Rivers, trying to meet someone
to date let alone marry,” April
said. “I always figured it was in
April had a cousin who met
her husband on the eHarmony site so that’s
what prompted this aspiring bride to give
it a try. In 2006, when April first logged
on, there were some matches offered but
nobody sparked a flame or even an interesting
exchange of emails.
“The first weekend is free and then
you join as a member and that costs approximately
$30 per month to subscribe,” April
explained. “After a while I became
a little discouraged because nothing was
After a few months of searching
out prospects, April logged off. She never
seemed to get past the standard questions
so it looked like her cyber love quest
was going nowhere fast.
Her parents, Darrell and
Sally Klocke, longtime South Fork residents,
convinced April to give it one more try.
“They gave me an eHarmony subscription
for Christmas in 2007 and as it worked
out, I probably have them to thank the
most that I found Casey,” April
But a love match in cyberspace
doesn’t always happen at high speed.
“Once I logged back on, Casey was
sent to me as a match, but there was no
response after my initial email,”
So April decided not to wait
for this potential match to respond first.
She sent him the next set of questions,
but again nothing arrived in her in-box.
Casey finally emailed April
back and showed a spark of interest. The
more impassioned emails that began last
Valentine’s Day soon became long,
involved phone conversations and then
WMIRL… that’s instant messaging
for “Wanna meet in real life?”
In September, Casey boarded
an airplane for the first time ever and
headed west to meet April and visit California.
“We packed up the whole family and
drove to Fresno to meet his flight,”
April said. “Once we got him into
the car, we drove straight to the coast.”
The weekend trip to the Central
Coast worked out great because Casey had
never seen an ocean, so it was a fun way
to break the ice, April recalled. They
all returned to Three Rivers in time to
attend church on Sunday so Casey could
meet some of the congregation and receive
a tour of Three Rivers.
The next day, April drove
Casey back to the Fresno airport, but
the couple missed Casey’s flight.
“It was the first time I ever drove
to the airport alone, so I guess I didn’t
allow enough time to check in,”
The couple had a few more
hours together until the next flight so
they decided to visit the nearby Chaffee
Zoo. It was prophetic in the scheme of
“It really was our first date and
the first time we were truly alone,”
April said. “We both realized right
then and there that we enjoyed being together.”
Next it was April’s
turn to visit the Midwest. In October,
accompanied by her brother, Adam, 19,
April arrived at the Petersons’
Nebraska ranch. She stayed with Casey’s
parents while her brother stayed with
Casey at his new house that he had just
finished building this past year.
“I really hit it off with Casey’s
parents, so they insisted I return for
Thanksgiving to meet more of the family,”
April said. “Casey returned to Three
Rivers for Christmas, and by that time
we were already setting the date and making
plans for a life together.”
April said she is looking
forward to moving into her new home in
Gothenburg, a small, mid-America town
only slightly larger in population than
Three Rivers. The community is located
in south-central Nebraska off Interstate
80 near the Platte River.
Gothenburg is part of the
Platte Valley and, like the San Joaquin
Valley, is home to some big time agribusiness.
Its population is around 3,600, give or
take a few dozen folks.
The historic farming community
has changed little in the five generations
that Casey’s family has been raising
corn, soybeans, wheat, and cattle. Casey
is a farmer/rancher just like his grandfather
and father, both of whom are still active
in the Peterson family farming business.
After the Saturday, Feb.
14, wedding, the couple will honeymoon
in Hawaii, another first among places
to visit for Casey. Upon their return
to the mainland, April will show Casey
some more of the California sights and
then the newlyweds will make their way
back home to Nebraska via the Grand Canyon,
the first time either of them has visited
Would April recommend eHarmony
for somebody else looking for that perfect
“I’m not sure it works for
everyone,” she said, “but
I do know that when it comes to a perfect
love match, if at first you don’t
succeed, try, try, and try again.”
State budget cuts
impact Tulare County
There is no question that
California’s new budget, in an attempt
to close the state’s $42 billion
shortfall will contain some deep, hurtful
cuts. What’s still up in the air
are where, what programs, and which counties
will suffer most.
As to when, Supervisor Allen
Ishida said Wednesday that state lawmakers
are getting very close. Assembly Republican
leader Mike Villines of Clovis told Ishida
this week that an agreement might be reached
as early as today (Friday, Feb. 13).
“Of course, we’ve all heard
that before,” said Ishida, “and
when it does come, it’s not going
to make anyone happy. It’s just
part of the hysteria.”
And while Republican lawmakers
have spent the last several weeks arguing
that California spends too much and rebuffing
proposals for any new taxes, their constituents
would be hurt the most by the deepest
cuts. Republican lawmakers, for the most
part, represent California’s least
populous and rural counties.
Tulare County is a prime example.
“That’s because Tulare County
is a welfare state,” said Ishida,
“We have a very large number of
residents on public assistance.”
In fact, numbers released
by the Legislative Analyst’s Office
early-on during the budget impasse showed
that Tulare County has the dubious distinction
of being California’s biggest per
capita spender when it comes to government
services. A staggering $2,223 annually
for each resident is provided from California’s
On the opposite end of the
spectrum is Marin County who is the state’s
biggest taxpayer at $4,793 per capita
per annum. The numbers reveal the irony
of the Republican lawmakers’ insistence
on huge spending cuts while refusing to
support any new taxes to help close the
According to Assemblywoman
Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), who ordered
the taxes and spending report that ranks
all 58 counties, it is her Republican
colleagues from the rural counties like
Tulare and their insistence on an “all-cuts”
budget who would be burdened most.
On the other hand, new taxes
would fall largely on the state’s
biggest taxpayers like Marin, San Mateo,
San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Placer
counties. Along with Tulare the next biggest
spenders are Modoc, Lake, Yuba, and Fresno
Villines said he’s trying very hard
to ensure that rural counties don’t
take a disproportional hit, but across-the-board
cuts are coming and they are bound to
hurt. He said that new taxes aren’t
the answer because that’s only a
temporary fix on a recurring symptom.
Republicans and many Democrats
are in agreement that what is needed is
a spending cap. That’s the only
hope to get the runaway spending under
But putting a limit on spending
could be devastating to Tulare County.
Cuts in Medi-Cal, for instance, would
hit rural counties hardest because the
few medical facilities that do operate
depend on state assistance just to keep
the doors open.
Last month, Tulare County
closed two clinics and there will likely
be more cuts. The biggest cuts overall,
Ishida said, will come in Health and Human
A settlement in the budget
crisis is impending but lawmakers caution
against picking winners or losers. The
important thing, according to Villines
and most of his Sacramento cohorts, is
that the budget problem is solved.
The new budget will at least
answer one question for California voters.
Did certain elected officials act in the
best interest of their constituents?
Time will soon tell.
From the Israel
by Sanya Haralson
In October, Sanya Haralson
embarked on a six-month trip to Israel,
where she is using her nursing background
as a medical volunteer.
Shalom (hello) from
Israel. I thought everyone at home might
be interested in what is happening over
here concerning the war on Gaza.
My original intention when
I left home in October was to go into
Gaza and work at a hospital run by the
Anglican church in Gaza City. That did
not work out because Israel would not
give me a visa into Gaza. I was told,
“No one gets into Gaza; no one gets
out.” I guess I should be happy
that things turned out this way, but instead
I am wishing even more so now that I was
there to help with all the wounded.
For the past two years, since
Israel put up walls and began containing
the people of Gaza inside the Gaza Strip,
I have been interested in going to Gaza.
Now that I have been in Israel for four
months, my perspective is a little different.
Here is some background on what has happened
as it has been told to me:
About 20 months ago the Palestinians
held elections. The West Bank elected
a Fatah regime (terrorists) and the Gaza
Strip elected a Hamas regime (also terrorists).
So, Israel has terrorists on both sides
of their country and they decided to try
and make nice with Fatah because they
are a little less extreme than Hamas.
In other words, they don’t say that
Israel has no right to exist and all Jews
should be killed, as Hamas does.
After this election, Hamas
started acting all crazy and there were
many suicide-bombing attacks inside Israel
for which they took credit, killing and
wounding many civilians. In retaliation,
Israel built a tall fence, placed border
guards around it, and kept Hamas confined
so they couldn’t kill any more Israelis.
So Israel creates, in essence, a big prison
24 miles long by six miles wide. What
else could they do? Would our government
have done anything different given these
circumstances? I hope not.
The innocent people who don't
want any trouble and are not radical killers,
however, are now trapped inside with these
madmen in power with no way to get out.
They don't have a way to make a living
and their quality of life has plummeted.
Here is where I started getting
two sides of the story: Israel said they
sent money for humanitarian reasons —
food, electricity, gasoline, and various
other commodities. But Israel said Hamas
took it all for their own use and did
not give it to the people who needed it
because they wanted all of the people
of Gaza to rise up against Israel and
essentially do what they are doing now:
start a war.
In contrast, Hamas says that
Israel acted like they were sending food
and supplies and were really storing them
in huge warehouses at the border. They
say there has been very little electricity
and gas for almost two years and that
the reason they are constantly sending
rockets into Israel is because they are
being held prisoners in their own land.
Hamas wants the restrictions
lifted. Israel says no because they are
afraid of renewed suicide bombings (since
they cut Gaza off, there have been hardly
I can see both points of
view. I do know that Hamas is a terrorist
organization with strong, radical Islamic
ideas. They still continue to send rockets
into Israeli towns all day long.
I have heard on the news
that these rockets are not killing people
so Israel’s response was too severe.
But just because there have been few fatalities
does not mean it’s a picnic to be
The only reason the bombs
are not killing people is because Israel
has spent millions of dollars on a warning
system for incoming rockets. Also, bomb
shelters are required in any public facility,
and most people have had to pay to build
shelters to protect their families. They
can't work, go to school, or have any
semblance of a normal life because they
are running to the shelters several times
a day and having to live through those
awful sirens. They have been suffering
through this for almost two years.
What would we expect our
government to do if our town was shut
down for two years with no jobs, no school,
etc., because of terrorist threats?
I think we would all say
make them stop.
With everything that has
happened, people are getting crazy on
both sides. I don't see how it can be
Now, I will tell you how
the war is affecting me personally and
those living here in Haifa.
To start with, we have had
to stock the shelter beneath us with water,
blankets, food, and other survival gear.
Americans are required to register with
the Embassy and to inform them of any
We have been advised to not
take public transportation, stay out of
heavily populated places (bars, malls,
concerts, etc.), and to not go to Jerusalem,
Bethlehem, or any area with a large Arab
population. This is very hard for me since
I live in the middle of an Arab neighborhood.
A few days ago, there were
four rockets that were fired upon a town
only 20 miles from here. The rockets came
from Lebanon, which is right across the
bay. We can see their lights at night.
After this happened, there
were sirens going and everyone was told
to prepare for the worst. Most of Israel
is equipped with a 40-second warning system.
This means that from the
time you first hear the siren until the
time of impact is 40 seconds. Let me tell
you, that is not much time! I have to
grab a bag that is packed with enough
supplies for 72 hours, get out of the
apartment, and down three flights of stairs
in 40 seconds. It's nearly impossible.
Since I live in a predominantly
Arab part of town, there are huge numbers
of people protesting the war and so, of
course, police presence is increased.
Security has been tightened everywhere.
Before I go shopping, out
to eat, or enter any office building,
I have to pour out the contents of my
bag and pass through a metal detector.
I don't mind the extra hassle if it prevents
The other thing that we are
dealing with here in the north is the
sound of surveillance helicopters and
planes overhead. It is constant, day and
night. They expect more trouble and have
several army units stationed here. During
the Lebanon war in 2006, the city I am
in was bombed hundreds of times because
it is close to Lebanon, it has a port,
and it is the largest town in the north.
So, needless to say, the people who lived
through that are extremely anxious now.
Where I am working, there
are numerous people who suffered and lived
through the Holocaust; most who lost family
members. When they hear the warning sirens
and the sounds of planes overhead it brings
back the horrible memories they try so
hard to forget.
I really can't understand
why the whole world is protesting against
Israel and acting as if Hamas is blameless.
So when you hear the stories on the news,
remember there are always two sides to
every story and think about what you would
do if, God forbid, you found yourself
in a similar situation.
Please continue to keep me
in your thoughts and prayers as we all
will need them in the coming weeks.
it, and so can you!’
Local Weight Watchers chapter
by Mo Basham
Where has the last year gone?
Seems like just last March, I started
participating in our local Weight Watchers
group here at Ash Mountain.
And now here it is February
and guess what? I achieved my goal of
losing 50 pounds!
I am so excited about this
program that I have decided to take the
training to become our local Weight Watchers
It doesn’t matter whether
you want to lose just a little weight
or a lot of weight. Weight Watchers teaches
you healthy eating habits that will last
a lifetime and can lead you to successful
You don’t have to give
up the foods you love in order to lose
weight; that was the first thing I learned.
I also learned to make healthier and smarter
So come join our next session
that is currently scheduled to start during
the first week of March, our one-year
We meet Tuesdays starting
at 4:30 p.m. and finish up about an hour
later. The sessions are 12 weeks long
and there is an easy and convenient payment
plan that makes it affordable to participate.
Please feel free to contact
me if you would like to participate or
would just like to get some additional
‘Hollywood on Fire’
In February 2006, an idea
for a subject was formed by a few friends
in which we would take a look at the Christian
influence of the film industry.
My first thought was, "Is
there such a thing?" I didn’t
know, but the idea intrigued me to where
I wanted to know more about the subject
Two long, hardworking years
later, in February 2008, the documentary,
now called Hollywood on Fire,
was making its world debut in, of all
the appropriate places, the film capital
of its origins to a packed and eagerly-awaiting
When an audience member asked
during the question-and-answer period
following the premiere where he could
buy a copy, we knew we were onto something.
Hollywood on Fire
explores the past, present, and future
of faith in the entertainment industry,
as expressed by more than two dozen professionals
working in the business, such as Pat Boone
(Journey to the Center of the Earth);
Eric Close (Without a Trace); Penelope
Foster (Free Willy, Operation Dumbo Drop);
Mark Joseph (The Passion, Narnia); Phil
Roman (How the Grinch Stole Christmas);
Jane Russell (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes);
Brian Littrell (The Backstreet Boys);
Bill Ewing (Men in Black I and II; Stuart
Little I and II; Spiderman; The End of
the Spear); Howard Kazanjian (Star Wars;
Indiana Jones); Chuck Norris (Walker,
Texas Ranger), and many more.
Although the film was made
for the teenagers and young adults who
feel called and led to be in the business
of making movie magic, people of all ages
will learn much from the documentary,
—How Hollywood began as a Christian
—How churches were the first movie
theatres in America.
—And why you are the most important
person the Hollywood studios look to when
To celebrate the nationwide
DVD release of the film (Tuesday, Feb.
24), the public is invited to a “Pizza
Premiere” at the Three Rivers Pizza
Factory on Monday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m.
The film is suitable for
all ages. It is one hour, 45 minutes,
in length and will begin around 6:30 p.m.,
followed by a question-and-answer session
from the audience with the film’s
Enjoy the complimentary food
while having fun and fellowship with your
friends and neighbors, as you bear witness
to another side of Hollywood you didn’t
think was possible.
Seating is limited at the
Pizza Factory, so plan on arriving early.
There will also be a small supply of DVDs
for purchase at 50-percent off the retail
Visit the film’s website
to view film clips and other information
about the documentary.
Kevin Foster, who lives
in Kaweah, is the executive producer of
Hollywood on Fire.
To minimize the harmful effects
of invasions of an increasing number of
non-native plants, animals, organisms,
and diseases, representatives from the
State of California announced Tuesday,
Feb. 10, at the World Ag Expo the formation
of the California Invasive Species Council.
On hand to discuss the new council were
A.G. Kawamura, state Department of Food
and Agriculture secretary and chairman
of the council; Mike Chrisman, secretary
of the state Natural Resources Agency
and vice-chairman of the council; Lorraine
Doyle, Department of Fish and Game warden,
with Iris, her invasive-species-sniffing
Labrador; and Mike Jarvis, Food and Agriculture
deputy secretary of public affairs.
Both Chrisman and Jarvis
have ties to Tulare County.
Invasives have for years
been on the radar of many in Three Rivers
and Sequoia National Park as local waterways
benefit from such vigilance. One of the
invasive species currently threatening
California is the quagga mussel. Warden
Lorraine took Iris through her paces to
show how the canine has been trained to
find the mussels, whether in a backpack,
on a boat or, at the ag show, in a Kubota.
Quagga mussels are the size
of a bean and can attach to anywhere on
a boat. They colonize in fresh water and
can survive out of the water for about
30 days, meaning they easily transfer
from waterway to waterway.
Another threat to the state
is the Asian citrus psyllid, an aphid-like
insect. This pest has the potential to
destroy an entire citrus industry.
The council will be charged with coordinating
California’s resources to ensure
the state is on the frontlines of the
war against invasive species. An advisory
committee will be formed and charged with
prioritizing the response efforts.
For more information on invasive
pests and diseases, the impact of non-natives
on California, and methods for reporting
an invasive species, go to www.cdfa.ca.gov/invasives/.
Styrofoam is destructive—
Polystyrene, most commonly known by the
brand name Styrofoam, is a petroleum-based
plastic that is difficult to reduce, even
more difficult to recycle, and almost
impossible to reuse. However, its low
cost has always made it popular for use
as food and drink containers in restaurants
and as a packaging material.
Several cities in California
have banned the usage of these non-biodegradable
Styrofoam food and beverage containers:
Santa Monica, Malibu, San Francisco, Berkeley,
Oakland, Monterey, Pacific Grove, and
Carmel. Orange, Los Angeles, and four
other California counties have followed
suit by abolishing Styrofoam containers.
Currently, a statewide ban
is proposed and if the above cities and
counties are any indication, in all likelihood,
it will be approved. But, until then,
consider boycotting the use of Styrofoam
by providing your own reusable cups and
containers when it is necessary to take
a “to go” order.
Health concerns associated
with Styrofoam are:
—Styrene, the basic building block
of polystyrene, causes acute health effects
to those working within close proximity
to it, such as those exposed during the
—Polystyrene is the fifth largest
creator of hazardous waste.
—Toxic chemicals leach out of Styrofoam
containers into the food they contain,
especially if reheated in a microwave.
These chemicals threaten human health
and reproductive systems.
—Styrofoam products are made with
petroleum, a non-renewable, heavily polluting
—The use of hydrocarbons in the
manufacture of polystyrene foam releases
the hydrocarbons into the air at ground
level, combining with other substances
in the presence of sunlight to form ozone,
a serious air pollutant.
—The amount of space, by volume,
used up in landfills by all plastics is
between 25 and 30 percent.
—Styrofoam food and beverage containers
are often dumped into the environment
as litter. The material is notorious for
breaking into pieces that choke animals
and clog their digestive systems. Since
Styrofoam is such a lightweight material,
about 95 percent air, it regularly finds
its way into waterways, such as the Kaweah
River and Lake Kaweah, threatening fish
stories and so much more in the weekly
print edition of The Kaweah Commonwealth.