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In the News - Friday, February 26, 2010

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

A winter morning at Lake Kaweah

Tragedy averted in Horse Creek wreck

by Brian Rothhammer

   It looked a lot worse than it was as motorists along Highway 198 earlier this week rounded a bend to find an SUV on its side smack dab in the middle of the road. The accident occurred at 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
  Tulare County Fire responded quickly to the single-vehicle, non-injury accident, as did the California Highway Patrol.
  According to the CHP report, a witness observed the 2010 GMC Terrain being driven erratically, having several “near misses” with oncoming traffic. Upon pulling to the side of the road to allow the driver to pass, the witness saw the SUV lose control.
  After striking a curb, the vehicle overturned three times before coming to rest on its side. The driver of the now-sideways SUV was a 60-year-old Three Rivers man, who emerged from his vehicle unhurt.
Neighbors and a local church pastor were also summoned to the scene by another witness to comfort the shaken driver.

  “Thank the good Lord that I am here,” remarked the driver to the pastor, motioning toward the damaged vehicle. “It’s a sturdy car, and for a while it pinched me in there. The air bag did its job.”
   Though officers at the scene detected no signs of alcohol or medication as a cause of the accident, the CHP investigator will likely recommend a review of the operator’s driving privilege.

New superintendent arrives

at Sequoia-Kings Canyon

  Karen Taylor-Goodrich, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first woman superintendent, admitted after two weeks on the job that hiking and horseback riding in these parks are among the things she is looking forward to doing once she gets settled.
   Taylor-Goodrich’s appointment is one of a chain reaction of moves that was set in motion when Jon Jarvis, the former director of the Pacific West Region was tapped by President Obama in 2009 to become the NPS director.
   On February 2, Jarvis announced the appointment of Don Neubacher as the new superintendent of Yosemite National Park. Neubacher, who served as superintendent at Point Reyes National Seashore for 15 years, takes over from David Uberuaga, who has been the acting superintendent since Mike Tollefson (formerly Sequoia-Kings Canyon superintendent) retired last year.
   The next day, Jarvis announced that Steve Shackelton, the chief ranger at Yosemite for the last eight years, will replace Taylor-Goodrich as the associate director for visitor and resource protection in Washington, D.C. Taylor-Goodrich credits her six years in that position as the nation’s chief ranger with completing her package of skills essential for running Sequoia-Kings Canyon, an opportunity that she calls “complex with tremendous challenges.”
   But before she returned home to California where she was raised, she wanted to experience how things worked Back East.

  “I really wanted to understand the urban experience from a Park Service perspective,” Taylor-Goodrich recalled. “I wanted to figure out how Washington works.”
   The new superintendent says she understands the big picture but never planned for it to take so long. Taylor-Goodrich served a decade in D.C, first taking a job as deputy superintendent at National Capital Parks-East in 1999.
   Once familiar with this ranger’s career track, it’s not surprising that she landed one of the most sought-after jobs in one of the best parks in the System. From the time she first became permanent in 1982, Taylor-Goodrich said she knew that she wanted to be a superintendent.
Taylor-Goodrich’s entry into a parks career started in Yosemite in 1972 as a seasonal employee of the Curry Company. There she met some NPS staff.
   Initially, she volunteered with the NPS crew working on a wilderness management plan. By the next summer she was hired as a seasonal handing out wilderness permits.
   For the next 12 years she worked nearly everywhere, doing everything there was to do at Yosemite. In 1984, she went to the Ranger Academy and earned a certification in law enforcement.
   Concurrently, with her park duties, Taylor-Goodrich earned a B.S. in Physical Geography from Portland State. After Yosemite, she worked at Grand Canyon National Park specializing in fire management and interpretation.
   Then it was off to Cumberland Island National Seashore where she and her husband were two of the rangers on a tiny staff. At that unique offshore park near the Georgia-Florida border, Taylor-Goodrich wore the hats of law enforcement, interpretation, and all the visitor services.
   During the 1990s, Taylor-Goodrich started and developed a two-year certificated program for graduate students in resource management at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. The focus of the program was on natural and cultural resources and an effort by the NPS, Taylor-Goodrich said “…to infuse resource managers into the Park Service.”
   With Taylor-Goodrich, it’s obvious that Sequoia has both a ranger who is passionate about wilderness and cultural resources and a boss who knows her way around Washington, D.C.

  “My Washington experience was a different type of adrenaline experience than a backcountry search and rescue,” Taylor-Goodrich recalled. “I wanted to understand budgets and the politics of being a superintendent.”
   Taylor-Goodrich said that what attracted her to Sequoia-Kings Canyon is the park’s legendary reputation as an innovator in the management of fire, bears, and wilderness.

  “I’ve always wanted to be where the buck stops, and at Sequoia I will be around a staff that isn’t afraid to try new things.”
Sequoia’s newest superintendent is currently living in park housing but might buy in Three Rivers once she and her husband decide what to do with their home in Arlington, Va. Gil, her husband, is retired from the NPS, having last worked at Manassas National Battlefield as the chief ranger.

911 call creates

emergency and confusion

  The recent rains, some acorns in the phone box, and local lines that get their wires crossed are becoming a recurring problem for Three Rivers residents. In the last few days at least two local 911 hang-ups were reported that had emergency units scrambling to homes in Three Rivers where there were no emergencies and no 911 calls dialed.
   The term “hang-ups” is applied to any 911 call where the caller does not remain on the line or the dispatcher calls back and receives a busy signal or no answer.
   On Wednesday morning, Feb. 24, a Tulare County firefighter forcibly entered the Cherokee Oaks home of Julie Sampson after the dispatcher reported a 911 call came from the residence and then got a busy signal.

  “Imagine how I felt when I was at work and a call on my cell phone caller-ID read my own number,” Julie said. “When I answered there was a Tulare County firefighter on the line who said he was inside my residence after responding to a 911 call made from my home number.”
   A number of scenarios flashed through Julie’s mind. Maybe a burglar had sustained an injury and called 911.
   Julie doesn’t have 911 set up as a speed-dial number so it certainly wasn’t any of the three cats or two dogs that were inside the house when the alleged call was made. Knowing her house was not secure and her pets might be a bit stressed after the incident, Julie rushed home from her job at the Central California Blood Center in Fresno.
   A career paramedic, Julie knows all too well how the emergency system is supposed to work. After calling a local handyman to fix her broken French doors, she got on the phone and did some checking with the 911 call center and AT&T, the local phone service provider.
   Here’s what she found out. First, the errant 911 calls in Three Rivers happen regularly.
   According to an AT&T supervisor named Linda, the phone company doesn’t know for sure how the wires get crossed but errant 911 calls occur frequently.
   A spokesperson for Tulare County Fire said on this particular day there was no response by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department deputy who is filling in for Jim Fansett. Fansett, the regular resident deputy, is on medical leave so he wasn’t around to check out the scene and advise an appropriate emergency response.
   Julie also checked with the local AT&T repairman who said the errant calls occur often and among the common denominators are stormy weather, acorns in the call boxes that house the wiring, and homes with cordless phones.
   The firefighter who entered her residence, Julie said, was just following standard procedure but that doesn’t remedy the situation or pay for damaged doors.
   The bottomline, Julie said, is that all the local parties need to communicate a little more effectively as to who does what and when.

  “The phone company needs to take some responsibility and fix the damage to my door and the problem,” Julie said. “In times like this, when the regular personnel are on days off, there’s going to be a real emergency and nobody to respond until it’s too late.”

More rain and snow in forecast

  The predominantly wet weather pattern will continue into the ides of March and bring more rain to Three Rivers and snow to the mountains. With each passing day, the current season is taking on characteristics of the historic El Nino seasons of 1969 and 1998.
   On February 24 and 25, 1969, it snowed three feet in one 24-hour period at Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park. According to the National Weather Service, that is the all-time local record for the period during which such statistics have been compiled.
   February 1998 in the central San Joaquin Valley was the fifth wettest on record. The more than five inches of rain that month in the flatlands caused $30 million in agri-business losses.
   Three Rivers with its season total approaching 18 inches of rainfall has already surpassed last year’s total. But the really extraordinary news is the snowpack. On several nights it has snowed one to two feet at 7,000 feet in the current season and that, too, is far from over.
   The current reading at Farewell Gap (9,500 feet) is 112.70 inches with 34.32 inches of water. That water content is already 30 percent more than the best reading for the entire season a year ago.
   At Mineral King near the old pack station there is 97 inches; at Faculty Flat in the forest where the sun rarely shines there is 100 inches. At Lodgepole, there was 97 inches on the ground (Feb. 25).
After more precipitation over the weekend, forecasters are calling for a brief break on Monday with more showers and snow in the nearby mountains likely to return by midweek. Temperatures in the foothills are expected to remain six to eight degrees below normal.

Do cents make sense?

Should there be a change in your change?

New one-cent coin

now in circulation

by Brian Rothhammer

  This month marks the official release of the 2010 Lincoln Cent. These “pennies,” released Thursday, Feb. 11, have a new reverse (tails) design per provisions of the Presidential Dollar Coin Act of 2005.
   The obverse (heads) design is a restored rendition of the original 1909 Lincoln that had been revised over the years. The time-honored design has its roots in the artistic renaissance of United States coinage brought about by then-President Theodore Roosevelt.
   The question is: Do we still need the one-cent coin? It’s origin is as old as that of the United States.
   The most widely respected currency in the seafaring world of the late 18th century was the Spanish dollar, known as “pieces of eight” referring to their division into eight reales or “bits” (two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar).
   When the United States of America first issued their own coinage just 10 years after the British lost the revolution, the 1793 cent was the first to be produced. These early “coppers” were about the size of today’s half dollar. They resembled the English penny, then very familiar to the former colonists, so have since been erroneously referred to as pennies.
   Now, let’s get one thing straight. Pennies were English. The cent, 1/100th of a dollar, was an invention of the new nation as was the dime, or 1/10th of a dollar, and the Eagle, or 10 dollars (gold). Quarters and half dollars made change for the “bits” as did half cents (one bit = 12½ cents).
   Along with the cent, half-cent coins were produced until the Coinage Act of 1857. At that time, the size of the cent was reduced to its present diameter and the half cent was eliminated, both as cost-saving measures.
   This was not without controversy. Many feared that “rounding up” prices would be a problem. One-half cent in 1857 would have the equivalent buying power of 11 cents in 2008. All went fine. Is it time for the cent?

  “The penny has been a nuisance for years,” said Representative Jim Kolbe (R.-Ariz.) of the cent in 2005. Rep. Kolbe promoted two bills to the U.S. Congress in recent years (2001, 2006) to eliminate production of the cent. There are many voices for elimination of the coin.
   In 2009, over 2,350,000,000 one-cent coins were produced. In 2000, the mintage was over 14,270,000,000. For each of those years, as typical, more than half of the U.S. Mint’s total production was of the one-cent coin.
   So what’s the problem? The Mint is losing money. Our money.
For fiscal year 2008 (latest figures available), each one-cent coin costs us an average of 1.42 cents to produce and distribute. Multiply that by over two billion.
   And what do you do with your pennies? Throw them away?
The United States Mint is a semi-autonomous organization under the supervision of the Treasury Department of the United States. It is one of the few entities of the U.S. government that actually runs as a business and turns a profit for its investors: us.
   A serious drain on their profit margin of late has been the production of one-cent and five-cent coins. As of February 8, the melt value of a pre-1982 bronze cent is 1.9 cents and a “nickel” melts at 4.5 cents. In late 2007, Nickels melted at over eight cents.
   This is similar to the situation faced in the early 1960s when rising silver prices predicated the elimination of precious metals in circulating coinage. The Treasury Department responded on Dec. 14, 2006, with new regulations making it a specific crime to melt or export one- or five-cent U.S. coins for profit. Fines run up to $10,000 and/or five years in prison.
   So why do we make cents? Does it make sense?
   In 1972, rising copper prices caused the Treasury Department to seek alternate metals to use for the cent. In 1973, over 1.5 million 1974-dated cents were minted of aluminum. Officially, all but one were destroyed; the one legal coin remaining is the Smithsonian Institution.
   By 1982, the old bronze cent cost the Mint over one cent each to produce, so the metal composition was changed mid-year to a zinc core with a thin copper plating. By FY 2008, this coin cost us 1.42 cents each.
   Cost isn’t the only problem. The zinc cent is toxic. Swallowing of the coin by humans — usually children — causes damage to the stomach lining due to the high solubility of zinc ions in stomach acid, and as they decay they present razor sharp edges. Swallowing of zinc cents may cause hemolytic anemia in dogs and can be fatal for birds.
Granted, a coin does have a fairly long lifespan. But what do we do with them?
   The penny of 1972 was of equivalent buying power as the nickel in 2010. That makes a penny of 2010 worth 1/5 of a cent in 1972. Would we miss it?
   Ed Moy, current director of the U.S. Mint, advocates a change in the composition of circulating coins, but not their denominations. Others push for more radical change.
   Either way, consumers can expect major changes in your change in the upcoming months and years.

3R Lions host Zone level speech contest

  The second phase in a series of six competitions toward scholarship dollars that could total over $20,000 will be held next week in Three Rivers and the public is invited to attend.
   Each year, the various Lions Clubs throughout California host a speech contest for students in grades nine through 12. The contest is open to all students, including foreign exchange students and those in a junior high school, charter school, private school, or who are home-schooled or on independent study.
   Each year’s speech contest has a different theme, but one that is the same throughout the state. This year’s topic is “Universal Health Care: How Will it Affect Us?”
   This contest is held with the best of intentions. What the students take away from it is twofold: First, scholarship money. Second, the opportunity to master a skill that will serve them well for the rest of their lives — public speaking — which is deemed so important that it’s a graduation requirement at most colleges.
   The Three Rivers Lions Club advertises the annual speech contest to Woodlake High School students who are from Three Rivers. In recent years, contestants have been few, sometimes one student and rarely never more than two.
   Being the lone speaker might be the best position in which to be because that translates to a sure win that along with it comes a check for $75 and the opportunity to advance to the “Zone” competition.
   On Thursday, Feb. 4, Cynthia Jones, a WHS senior from Three Rivers, presented her Universal Health Care speech to local Lions members. She now advances to the next level — Zone — and she will have the advantage of knowing that the competition is being held on her home turf.
   The Three Rivers Lions are hosting this year’s Zone speech contest. It is scheduled for Thursday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m., and the public is invited to attend.
   The Zone contest, one of three in Tulare County, consists of the winning speakers from the Three Rivers, Woodlake, and Exeter clubs. Cynthia will compete against Exeter only as the Woodlake Lions will not be sending a speaker.
   The winner will advance to the Region contest and face the winners from the three (Tulare County) Zones. This contest will be held April 7 in Visalia, hosted by the Visalia Charter Oaks Lions Club.
   The winner at Region will advance to District and compete against speakers from Kern, Kings, and Fresno counties. From District, it’s onto Area (the state is divided up into “Areas”), then the Final, which is all of the winners who have advanced on this same ladder to the top spot.
   For information about the contest, call Mary Andrade, 561-4692.

Wanted: Past Lions speech contestants

  Mary Andrade is a Three Rivers Lions Club member, as is her husband, Manuel, her daughter, Christine Burns, and her granddaughter, Laurabelle Burns. She is also a previous speech contestant, when she was still Mary Miksch and a student at Woodlake High School.
   Mary is currently compiling a history of the local Lions speech contest. She would like to know what year the local contest began, as well as have any past contestants get in touch with her and let her know the year they competed, how far they advanced in the contest, and, if possible, provide her with the topic from that year.
   To provide information, call Mary at (559) 561-4692.

National parks visitation increased in 2009

  Ten million more Americans and foreign tourists visited U.S. national parks last year than in 2008, a 3.9 percent increase that marked the fifth busiest year ever for the National Park System.
   More than 285 million people visited national parks and other units of the National Park System during 2009, up from just under 275 million in 2008. This fell just short of the all-time visitation record of 287.2 million in 1987.
   Sequoia National Park’s visitation increased by 35,000 to nearly 1 million in 2009. And Kings Canyon National Park had nearly 610,000 visitors; up by more than 34,000.
   Possible reasons for the increase in visitation include three weekends last summer when the Park Service waived entrance fees, the visits by President Obama and his family to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, the publicity generated by Ken Burns’s documentary on the history of the national parks, a decline in gasoline prices, and the continued strong exchange rate of the Euro against the dollar.
   The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs from Shenandoah National Park (Va.) on the north to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tenn.) on the south was the most-visited unit of the System with nearly 16 million visitors.
In California, the unit with the most visits was the Golden Gate National Recreation in San Francisco, with more than 15 million visitors.
The National Park Service was created in 1916. Currently, the National Park System comprises 391 areas that include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.

The 10 most visited national parks (2009)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park —
Visitors: 9,491,437

Grand Canyon National Park — Visitors: 4,348,068

Yosemite National Park — Visitors: 3,737,472

Yellowstone National Park — Visitors: 3,295,187

Olympic National Park — Visitors: 3,276,459

Rocky Mountain National Park —
Visitors: 2,822,325

Zion National Park — Visitors: 2,735,402

Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Visitors: 2,589,288

Grand Teton National Park — Visitors: 2,580,081

Acadia National Park — 2,227,698


1st Saturday: 'Color it Grene' is March theme

by Eddie McArthur

  Synergy refers to an activity, group, or combination in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s what the monthly 1st Saturday event in Three Rivers has managed.
   Spearheaded by Nadi Spencer, a lifelong artist known by many through her beautiful murals, the happening grows each month. In a time when it seems impossible to generate cooperation, 1st Saturday has come to include artists, restaurants, motels, massage, yoga, music, candles, weaving, and more.
   February’s 1st Saturday also included the Empty Bowls event and a display at Three Rivers School. And the Kaweah Artisans joined the fun.
   That group, organized by Tina St. John, displays their wares several times a year, usually around a holiday or gift-buying time. Luckily they chose to be indoors this time since one of the recent storms was dropping its gifts all around Kaweah Country.
   Vendors included Ja Nene’s Natural Body Products with creams, lotions and potions; Michael Hansen’s photography; bowls of wood and of gourds; and much more.
   Nadi’s Studio was packed! With her dual offering of a Valentine portrait or a pet portrait at special pricing, along with all her beautiful paintings, it seemed many folks came for more than her free vegan “ice cream” — though I can say that was surprisingly wonderful! Think about it — ice cream made without cream or eggs.
   Harrison Hall at the Presbyterian Church offered its indoor space to a number of artists. Eugene Chun is relatively new to the local art scene. He was set up with charcoal and ink prepared to offer quick mini-portraits. Folks had an opportunity here to come in out of the rain, view art from jewelry to glass to portraits, enjoy coffee, and use bathroom facilities.
   I have to confess that for the past month’s event I tended toward the indoor venues; and, since I was working at the Empty Bowls event, I spent less time out and about.

  1st Saturday - March— Somehow, someway, the 1st Saturday group finds a way to draw interest anew each month. For March, the theme is “Color it Green, perfectly timed for the lovely display the local foothills are presently putting on.
   As a special enticement to visit the more out-of-the-way studios, a grand prize is being offered. It consists of a night at a Three Rivers vacation home, located on the Three Rivers Golf Course by the river (including spa and pool), and a gift basket. Goodies include a massage and restaurant certificates and local art.
   The total grand prize value is over $600. Win by attending as many venues as possible. Each venue has a point value, based in part on distance traveled.
   Visitors will have their maps stamped at each location. Maps must be dropped off before 5 p.m. at The Art Co-Op with contact information. The winning person will be the one with the most points, and a drawing will settle any tie.
   I will be the Featured Artist during March at The Art Co-Op with the reception scheduled for 1st Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. As such, it will be difficult for me to get out and visit various venues around town. I hope to see you at the Co-Op!

New book chronicles local floods

  Upon the conclusion of this winter’s rain and snow, it’s possible there may be a new chapter to add to the newest book in the Sequoia Natural History Association’s collection. But, until then, the newly published Floods of the Kaweah will bring everyone up to date on past water events, the conditions that cause the destructive high water, and what has been done to minimize the danger and damage caused by floods.
   The information compiled comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Kaweah; local newspapers, including The Kaweah Commonwealth; Tulare County water and irrigation agencies; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks archives; and local residents and their first-hand experiences.
   The book provides a contextual history of the Kaweah region. Next, each of the major floods that has occurred from 1862 to 1955 is described.
   Then comes the construction of Terminus Dam, which took place from 1959 to 1961. As the book explains, the creation of Lake Kaweah has spared downstream areas such as Lemon Cove, Woodlake, and Visalia from floods, but Three Rivers has continued to contend with destructive events, such as that which occurred in 1966-67:

  “Archie McDowall lost 2,500 chickens and his henhouse when floodwaters submerged his North Fork property [just upstream from Kaweah Post Office]. He tried to save his truck by driving to higher ground but got stuck in the mud. The truck ended up floating downstream just after he abandoned the vehicle. The River Isle Trailer Park on the North Fork was devastated, with the park actually in the river. The river cut the Three Rivers Golf Course in half. A car parked at the Gateway Lodge, just below the entrance to Sequoia National Park, washed away. The road between the Gateway and the Ash Mountain national park headquarters, just a mile away, washed out. On the 15-mile stretch between Ash Mountain and Giant Forest the road washed out in 12 places. Estimated damage in Three Rivers hit $2.5 million.
   Terminus Dam was further improved during the Lake Kaweah Enlargement Project of 2004. Central to this effort was the installation of 21-foot-tall fusegates, the largest to date in the world.
   The final chapter proves that this book is actually just the beginning of a never-ending saga. For as long as snow falls in the Sierra, there will be the threat of floods along the various forks of the Kaweah Rivers

  “Upstream from Lake Kaweah, the potential for flooding remains as high as ever. Places like Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park remain unprotected. It would be foolhardy in these areas to assume that flooding matching historic events will not continue to occur.”
   This book will serve as a useful reference tool as previously there was no book that described the when, where, why, and how of the Kaweah River’s floods.
   Floods of the Kaweah was published by the Sequoia Natural History Association. It is 49 pages and can be purchased for $10.95 at the Foothills Visitor Center in Ash Mountain, other park visitor centers, and online at www.sequoiahistory.org.
   SNHA is a nonprofit membership organization that supports Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Lake Kaweah, and Devils Postpile National Monument. The SNHA office is located at the Ash Mountain headquarters of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks.

Sequoia Foothill Art Show

scheduled in Springville

  The Springville Community Club welcomes everyone to come and view the art on display for the 49th annual Sequoia Foothill Art Show. The event will be held Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Springville Veterans Memorial Building, 35944 Highway 190.
   There will be hanging art, three-dimensional art, photography, sculptures, graphic art, and children’s art from local schools.
   Artists will also be providing free demonstrations of their craft:
   Ed Batsch makes plaster of Paris molds of people’s faces, and with the mold he creates a “mask” from ceramics. He will be seeking volunteers at the show to make a mold of their face.
   Lindsay Dion will be hand-spinning hand-dyed wool yarn.
   Francis Pyles will be painting with watercolors creating native flowers.
   Ron Zanini will be displaying his wood boxes made from a variety of woods and will demonstrate the use of a scroll saw to create beautiful inlaid designs on the top of the boxes.
   Jerry McCleary made a blanket chest of cherry and walnut. There will be a silent auction for the blanket chest.
   Ellen Gorelick will be judging the hanging art and three-dimensional art. Ellen has a Master’s degree in Art and is retired as the director of the Tulare Historical Museum. She resides in Tulare.
Michael Hansen will be judging the photography. He has published the book Wild Journeys, which contains his photographs and will have his book on display. He resides in Porterville.
   Sue Marcotte will be judging the children’s art. Sue has a minor degree in Art and worked teaching grades two through eight for 38 years. Her last five years of teaching were at Jim Maples Academy for the Burton School District in Porterville as an art and science specialist. She resides in Springville.
   All artists are invited to exhibit in the show. An entry form with all the categories, divisions, fees, rules and regulations is currently available at www.springville.ca.us (look for the link on the left side of the page) or by contacting Jean, 539-1226; Marilyn, 539-5539; or Velma, 539-2937.
   The artwork will need to arrive at the Springville Memorial Building on Friday, March 26.


'My single-most favorite recipe'

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: Bill

   This week’s recipe comes from sibling number one. Yes, number one, the leader of the pack, or at least he would like to think so. Ha!
   Actually, he was the leader, always organizing events, whether it was an elaborate play for our mom and dad or building the best-ever haunted house in our basement.
   Bill, or as I’ve always called him, Billie, is a former food critic for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post. For years, he had a food column and would report on restaurants in the Denver area.
He now lives in Chicago and has his own business called St. John Wines, teaching about wine and food pairings. He also teaches philosophy at the University of Chicago.
   Billie is my inspiration when writing my food column. I remember reading his columns in the newspaper and thinking that someday I would like to be able to write like that too.
   He is very creative and engaging with his stories about food that I had no idea even existed. It’s as though I was actually eating what he was writing about right then and there.
   Once he wrote about the way our French grandmother made mayonnaise. It was a story so fascinating and entertaining, I could taste what she was making. So the French are the masters of mayonnaise and not Best Foods. Who knew?
   The recipe he submitted is a pork dish. My brother is so descriptive in his writing that it was almost painful for me to type this, being a strict vegetarian.
   Good writing I would say on his part. So here it is, Billie’s favorite.
   Bon Appetit!
   In two weeks: Part Five of “My single-most favorite recipe.”


   This is one of my faves: It’s called “pernil” by the Puerto Ricans, who have perfected it as a party food; a good pernil can feed a small crowd.
   So, get what they call in Chicago a “picnic” — other terms: pork butt, pork shoulder — be sure it’s large (8-10 pounds at least) because that is the kind that roasts best (more fat and cartilage to dissolve and tenderize). Also, be sure it still has its skin on (that will turn a dark golden brown and become pork candy).
   Pull the skin back toward the thin end but do not pull it off or remove it. You may need to use a thin knife to cut it away while you pull back. If there is a huge amount of fat, you can trim some off.
   Now make a paste (a food processor is best) out of the following:

10-12 cloves of peeled garlic (or even more if you like; it’s pretty impossible to use too much garlic; I have seen recipes call for two whole heads)
Grated peel of 1 good-sized lemon
2 tbs. salt
1 tbs. ground black pepper
2 tbs. dried oregano (Mexican, if you can find it)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Few squeezes of the lemon’s juice
2-3 tbs. canola or corn oil (don’t use olive oil; even the weak stuff is too strong)
A teaspoon to a tablespoon of any favorite adobo (spice/chile pepper/BBQ rub blend, even Lawry’s salt)

   Take the paste and rub it all over the pernil, underneath the pulled-back skin and into the many slits that you’ve made throughout the meat — 20 is too few — by sticking in a paring knife and twisting it a bit to make a hole of sorts. Stuff in the paste with your little finger or the unemployed end of a spoon/fork; pull the skin back over.
   (Now, if you can, place the pernil in a shallow dish large enough to hold it and marinate it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. If you do not have the time, you may roast right away, although it will be neither as flavorful nor as tender as one that has been worked over by the paste.)
   If refrigerated, bring to room temperature and roast this, skin side up, for as many hours as you wish — a minimum of 3-4, a maximum of 8. The longer you roast, the lower the oven temperature; I start at 325 degrees for 2-3 hours, covered, then lower it to 250-275 for another 3-4 hours, uncovered. You don’t need to baste it but it doesn’t hurt. Let it sit for a half-hour outside the oven before you simply tear it apart into eatable chunks. There is a weird and huge bone that’s in the middle, so keep it for making stock for soup or white bean soup or some such. The skin can be cut up into chunks -— there will be food fights over it — or further crisped in a skillet in order to make cracklings.
If it’s rendered a sauce, strain it of its fat (if you can; there’s a lot) and spoon it over the meat before serving.
   It’s best wrapped in flour and corn tortillas, eaten out of hand with add-ons such as hot sauce, avocado slices, fresh cilantro leaves, squeezes of lime wedges, and more dried oregano. Of course, it can be eaten in the manner of pulled pork as in the American South, on buns, and with any kind of sauce you like.
   There you have it!

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