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In the News - Friday, February 27, 2009


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

The South Fork of the Kaweah River

Budget cuts looming at TRUS

   It was certainly no surprise on Wednesday, Feb. 25, when projected budget cuts were announced at a special meeting of the board of trustees at Three Rivers Union School. The meeting was called to assess the fallout from the recent State of California budget that was finalized last week.
   Before the state budget was approved, TRUS officials were told by county administrators to plan for a worst-case scenario — a potential $160,000 deficit in the 2009-2010 budget.

  “The budget crisis in California has been a real rollercoaster ride for our school district,” Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent, told the trustees. “It’s been difficult to plan and make projections.”
   A few weeks ago, some parents and school staff were wondering whether there would even be a Three Rivers School after this semester. Projected cuts that were outlined at Wednesday’s meeting are calling for some extreme belt-tightening, but appear to be just a part of a necessary fix.
   The feeling at the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school with a current enrollment of 161 is one of cautious relief and that the proposed cuts of approximately $118,000, with the continued support of the community, will help meet the 2009-2010 budget of $1.1 million.
   Budget cuts are more enigmatic in a small school district because there are fewer places to look for surplus monies. As a result, school administrators are searching high and low to find anywhere to cut.
   Among the biggest potential savings for the small-school district is the fact that Melinda Simonian, who currently teaches a first/second-grade combination class, will be retiring after 30 years as a teacher with the majority of her tenure with the district. The vacancy will be filled by a part-time position for kindergarten, a savings for the district of $37,400.
   To project a total cost savings of $118,000, no existing program escaped staff scrutiny. Cuts are being proposed for classroom and office expenses, afterschool programs and, after more detailed analysis, how the cafeteria is doing business.
   Laura Bullene Jacobo, the director of food service for the Woodlake school district, will be visiting Three Rivers soon to offer her qualified suggestions. Already being proposed is a 25-cent hike in the cost of a lunch, as well as switching to nonfat chocolate milk.
   The chocolate milk might be a win-win because more kids would drink the flavored milk and digest less fat than the one or two-percent regular variety. Currently, the student receives a carton of milk as part of a five-item lunch, but many milk cartons end up unopened.

  “You wouldn’t believe the incredible amount of food that is wasted,” said Sherwood. “The law mandates that we must throw away whatever is left over.”
   The milk is an example of what could be the first step toward going to an “offer versus serve” program, where students take only the items they will consume.

  “We could also look at expanding our garden project and growing some of our own food,” Sherwood said.
   Teachers will also be asked to increase their monthly healthcare contribution from $60 to $160. Sherwood said the district’s healthcare plan is still a good deal for district employees, but its cost continues to escalate.
   Among other cost-saving measures is a proposal to eliminate bus use for field trips and away games (athletics) at Immanuel in Reedley and El Monte in Cutler-Orosi. Those cuts could save another $6,000.
   More budget details will be on the agenda at the next regular board meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, at 6 p.m. All budget-related reports are on file at the TRUS office and arrangements may be made to examine the documents by calling 561-4466.

News owners at Sierra Subs

   It’s the same hours and the same menu for now, but starting Saturday there will be some new faces at Sierra Subs and Salads. That’s because earlier this week, Dane and Allison Millner tied up all the loose ends and purchased the Three Rivers eatery.
   The transition from the previous owner, Laura Harris, both parties said, will be a smooth one. At first, there will be very little in the way of changes.
   According to Allison, who is the daughter of Dave and Sue Sherwood of Three Rivers and was raised here, the timing of the purchase and her coming home couldn’t have been better for the couple who until recently were living in San Diego.

  “We’re so excited just to get started,” said Allison.
   Undaunted by taking over the local business in an uncertain economy, Allison, 31, said she and her husband Dane, 43, relished the challenge. The couple was married last October and want to start their family so they figured where better to do that but in Three Rivers?

  “We want to eventually make some improvements, but for now we’ll be just learning how things are done here and what folks really want,” Allison said.
   Purchasing a local business was something that the couple had been giving a lot of thought to recently, so going through the start-up phase of the sandwich shop during the slower season works fine.
   By the onset of the traditionally busy summer, the new owners will know exactly what they signed on the dotted line to do. And they couldn’t be more excited because they are self-described “foodies.”
   Foodies, a term made popular in a 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook, are gastronomic aficionados who love to eat, drink, and are passionate about all things culinary. While in San Diego, Allison ran a cooking school where she learned all the ins and outs of the food service industry.
   There’s no rush to change what was working at Sierra Subs but there will eventually be some new items on the menu.

  “In addition to all the administrative duties of running the cooking school I also taught classes in vegetarian cuisine,” Allison said. “The key to success is preparing fresh, healthy food that tastes great.”
   In this new business and market, Allison admits, there is a lot to learn. She said soon they are planning to serve a breakfast sandwich and a really good cup of coffee, although there is no set timetable of when these new things will happen.

  “We just have to grow into the business once we figure out what works here in Three Rivers,” Allison said.
   Sierra Subs and Salads opened in September 2005. It was owned and operated by Laura Harris who worked her first restaurant job at Noisy Water Café in 1974. She and her husband Jerry also own the River Inn and Cabins in Three Rivers.

Snow level climbs to 9,000 feet

   The warmer storms of last weekend kept things green and moist in the foothills but made for some sloppy snow at 7,000 feet. A ski patrol ranger reported rain in Mineral King that made conditions extremely dangerous due to avalanche danger on the steeper slopes.
According to a report filed by a park ranger on ski patrol to gather March 1 snow survey data, when it rains it lubricates the layers of snow and breaks down the bonding characteristics of the snowpack.    When rainfall occurs at the higher elevations where typically the slope angles range between 30 and 40 degrees, there exists a high probability for an avalanche.
   Winter ski travel is not advised on or near these steeper areas until an extended cold snap brings some more snow to stabilize these slopes. That scenario could occur in the month of March and if or when it does it could add some real staying power to the snow that is currently in the nearby mountains.
   Although most local avalanches have occurred later in the season, they are common for other areas in the month of February. A devastating avalanche occurred at Sap Gulch, Utah, in February 1926.
   Fourteen cottages were destroyed and 36 people killed while 13 others were injured. One survivor lived to tell an incredible story how he was carried out of harm’s way by riding the crest of the huge snowslide more than 150 feet.
   Although local snow at 7,000 feet remains wet and heavy, accumulation readings were only slightly down from the previous week. In east Mineral King (7,900 feet elevation), as of February 19, the snowpack measured 52 inches; at Farewell Gap (9,600 feet), a remote sensor reported 85.30 inches with a water content of 28.85 inches.
   A complete listing of snowpack conditions for the Sierra Nevada and its drainages is expected to be released by State Water Resources on Monday, March 2.

Artists to open studios to visitors

   The fiddlenecks are painting the hills surrounding Three Rivers in brilliant orange. Birds are pairing up for the spring nesting season. And artists of Three Rivers have invited other artists from around Tulare County to join them in the first-ever Spring Open Studios event, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.

  “We invite you to visit the nine artists of many disciplines to share their creations,” said Shirley Keller of Three Rivers.
   The first stop for participants will be Nadi’s Art Studio and Gallery at 41838 Sierra Drive, Three Rivers. She will have free maps available with directions to the other studios.
   Nadi is well-known for her work with students from Three Rivers School. They have produced three murals so far with another in the works.
   Nadi also completed two murals with students from La Sierra High School in Porterville last year. Her murals also cover walls in various towns throughout Tulare County, as well as at the Fowler Library.
   Nancy Jonnum’s ceramic studio is in Three Rivers. She invited Tina St. John from Three Rivers and Ginny Wilson of Lindsay to share her patio.
   Nancy is known for her quirky ceramic animal sculptures. Tina creates jewelry of delicate design. Both artists currently have items displayed at Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs.
   Ginny Wilson’s photographs capture images of her travels around the world. She will soon retire to devote full time to her Blue Ridge Photography.
   Marn Reich’s home ceramic studio will be shared with Sherley Tucker, a multimedia artist from Visalia. Humor is Marn’s trademark, and her sculptures inspire chuckles. Sherley is known for her wonderful studio that she regularly shares with people, playing with clay, two kilns to fire, and three friendly dogs. There isn’t an art form with which Sherley won’t experiment.
   Shirley Keller, Three Rivers writer and artist, has invited Kay Gaston and Jeri Burzin, both of Visalia, to share her space. Shirley’s prize-winning photographs will be on display along with ceramic masks. Kay is known for her large fabric dolls and small fabric shoulder pins that display color, imagination, and humor. She also works in dicroic glass and silver.
   Jeri Burzin takes her camera wherever she goes, capturing the usual and the unusual. Her photographs have traveled the southwest with the Yosemite Show. Both Jeri and Kay are members of The Art Stand along the popular Blossom Trail.
   The Spring Open Studios event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Nadi, 561-4373, or Marn, 561-6276.
   Shirley Blair Keller contributed this article.

Wood ‘N’ Horse receives state honors

   THE WOOD ‘N’ Horse Show Team was invited to attend the Cal-Western Appaloosa Show Horse Association statewide awards banquet. The event, held in January, took place on the Delta King riverboat, which is moored in Old Sacramento.
   Since 1966, Cal-Western has been the recordkeeping organization for appaloosa competitions throughout California. And after all the points were tallied for 2008, the Wood ‘N’ Horse team returned home victorious, garnering top honors in several categories.
   CARA PETERSON of Visalia showed her horse “Dunny” to a championship in Novice Non-Pro Western Pleasure and a championship in Novice Non-Pro Trail.
   MARY ANN BOYLAN, formerly of Three Rivers who now resides in Salinas, showed her horse “Im So Hot Im Cool” to High Point Overall Masters Rider. Im So Hot also earned a Superior Championship. Mary Ann also won the Bright Chip Pleasure Horse award.
   SUE ROJCEWICZ, who also recently left Three Rivers for Salinas, rode her horse “Jimmy” to win High Point Masters Trail.
   MEG JOHNSON, a Woodlake High freshman from Three Rivers, rode her horse “Jasper” to Champion English Rider (13 and under) and Champion Working Hunter (13 and under).
   ERIN FARNSWORTH of Three Rivers rode her horse “Pie” to Champion-Southern Area Non-Pro English Rider.
   TATIANA SMITH, the newest and youngest member of the show team, competed twice during the year in Lead Line for riders 6 years old and under. As a result, she took home two first places and five second places.
   STEVE WOOD was honored with the California Sportsman Award for the friendly assistance he provides to all exhibitors.
   CHRISTY WOOD of Three Rivers, head coach of the show team, was awarded Top Trainer of Performance Horses 2008, the fifth year that she has received this award. She was also named Top Trainer of Non-Pro Riders.

  “I could not have won this prestigious award if it had not been for the dedication of the show team members,” Christy said.
   Christy also showed her horse “Dude” in 2008 to a win in Overall High Point Performance Horse. This statewide award netted her a trophy saddle. In addition, Dude was also the High Point Gelding, and he earned his Superior this year.
   The awards banquet concluded with Dude’s mother “Miss Blue Smoke” being posthumously inducted into the Cal-Western Appaloosa Show Horse Association’s Hall of Fame. Smoke was the first ex-race horse to make it big in the performance arena after being retrained by Christy, which proves that horses can have a second life after their race careers conclude.

  “I still miss her,” said Christy. “But I am glad she gave me Dude, who definitely showed off his, and her, talent this year.”
   Coming soon, the National Appaloosa Club will be honoring its 2008 year-end award winners. Christy said that there is no doubt that the Wood ‘N’ Horse Show Team will have a few horses listed among those top winners as well.

Horse and riders gather at Lake Kaweah

   HORSE PICNIC— More than 60 people and 40 horses were in attendance at a “Horse Picnic,” held near the Horse Creek Campground at Lake Kaweah on Sunday, Feb. 15. The event was hosted by the Sequoia Unit of the Backcountry Horsemen of California and organized by Mark and Kathryn Anselmi of Three Rivers.
   The event was advertised to different horse groups, so there were also members from the High Sierra Unit (Porterville/Springville area) of the BCHC as well as Equestrian Trails Inc.-Corral 99 (Tulare, Lindsay, Exeter, Three Rivers).
   In addition to a day ride in and around the lake bottom and barbecued hamburgers for lunch, there were several speakers who discussed topics of interest to horse enthusiasts. Athena Demetry, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks restoration ecologist, discussed velvet grass, a highly invasive species that was first found in 2005 in Kern Canyon, a popular area for horse travel. Velvet grass was introduced to North America in pasture seed mixes and is brought into the backcountry on stock or people. New grazing restrictions and weed-free travel tips were provided.
   Other speakers included Joel Baker of the American Conservation Experience, who discussed backcountry packing opportunities, and Larry Butler, a Lake Kaweah volunteer, who described the area’s archaeological sites.

  “When this idea first came to Kathryn and me, we chose the name ‘Horse Picnic’ because it best described our goal: a picnic with horses,” said Mark.
   HORSE CAMP— Perhaps most important was the group discussion with Barrett Frobose, an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ranger at Lake Kaweah, who has been researching the probability and feasibility of the establishment of a horse camp at Lake Kaweah.
   This is Mark Anselmi’s pet project as he has spearheaded the horse-camp effort by circulating a “riders’ survey,” researching corral systems, and providing camp facilities designs to the USACE.
Ranger Barrett had been making the rounds at the Horse Picnic, gathering riders’ input regarding the proposed horse-camp site is adjacent to the existing, and aptly named, Horse Creek Campground.  Much of the labor to build the campsites and corrals will be volunteered by BCHC members.

  “One of the best parts of the day was seeing all who came together because of the common bond that our horses create for us and as a show of support for the proposed horse camp,” concluded Mark.

Healthy Living
Weekly tip

For women only: The menopause metabolism. Studies show that the average woman will gain 30 pounds after menopause whether practicing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or not.
   Because synthetic HRT has long been controversial and, most currently, linked with an increase in heart attacks and strokes, most women today plan to ride out menopause without HRT.
   The associated symptoms of perimenopause (the years that lead up to menopause) can be hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, mood changes, and weight gain. Physicians have been able to treat women who seek relief from hot flashes and night sweats with HRT, but avoiding menopausal weight gain is typically not an issue of taking HRT or not.
   New research on the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen in the brain lends credence to what many women have suspected about the hormonal changes that accompany weight gain, namely that menopause causes weight gain in most women. Researchers used a series of animal experiments to show how estrogen receptors located in the hypothalamus serve as a master switch to control food intake, energy expenditure, and body fat distribution. The research showed that when these receptors are disabled, the animals immediately begin to eat more food, burn less energy, and pack on pounds. The findings show that the animals quickly developed an impaired tolerance to glucose and a sizable weight gain even when their calorie intake remained the same. Additionally, the excess weight went straight to the abdomen.
   The accumulation of abdominal fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. This is in contrast to females in their younger years when body fat is primarily carried in the hips and thighs.
   Avoiding menopausal weight gain comes down to carbohydrate tolerance (the ability of the body to metabolize and use nutrients). The factors that affect carbohydrate tolerance are diet, muscle mass, physical activity, age, and gender.
   Many women become less active with age and experience a decline in muscle mass. Even women who still continue to exercise experience a decline in muscle mass due to age, but the decline is much less than that of sedentary women.
   A diet high in refined carbohydrates requires one of two things: (1) utilization of the energy by the skeletal muscle; or (2) storage of excess calories in the form of body fat. So as a woman’s muscle tissue declines, fat tissue becomes where extra carbohydrates are stored.
   Be sure to include a lean protein source at each meal, cut out the refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour) and switch to whole grains, exercise at least five days a week, and don’t starve yourself because that will only slow metabolism even more.
   Women are able to eat more and lose weight once they understand how their body is metabolizing nutrients. Their cells no longer feel starved and are getting adequate lean protein (fish and seafood, dairy products, beans, eggs, white-meat poultry, lean beef and pork, soy) to satisfy their energy requirements. Hunger and carb cravings will lessen as protein is much more slowly digested and provides greater satiety.


‘The best guitar player in the world’

by Louis J. Araujo

   TOMMY EMMANUEL returned to Orange Blossom Junction near Exeter over Valentine’s Day weekend for a series of unforgettable nights at the place rapidly becoming known as a musical refuge for music's guitar legends. Of the great blues, rock, jazz, and country-style finger-pickers who have graced the venue, none compares in any musical genre with the hardworking mega-talent and multifaceted virtuoso better known to us all as Tommy Emmanuel.
   I had the pleasure of seeing Tommy perform his magic last year at the sold-out Visalia Fox concert and, of course, like many new fans on his awesome Youtube performances, but this opening night at the Blossom was on another level completely.
   The night began with Tommy being introduced as “the best guitar player in the world,” which at first blush might be, to the uninitiated, a bold statement. Then, after an unassuming Tommy acknowledged the warm welcome and displayed a crackled voice — “due to the Schezwan sauce,” he said — and quick flash of a smile, he was off at full steam and the audience hung on for the wild, rollicking ride.
   The songs he played around with and the versatility the man displayed ran the gamut of the full melodic landscape. There was the grand pickin’ style in the form of his musical mentor Chet Atkins to the incredibly rich, warm-toned jazzy stylings, and breakneck, barreling blues rockers. He alternately strummed and fingered with his usual bravado and gusto, ending everything with his dizzying, ultraquick signature “Guitar Boogie.” I was left mute with disbelief that any human could play at such speed and yet hit every note flawlessly.
   But it was the extra touches that this maestro displayed that truly made me, and most likely every other person that night, believe the Tommy Emmanuel hype. When he performed “Aboriginal Tune,” he transformed his guitar into a didgeridoo, droning a soulful plaint. Adding to this, he proceeded to shake the guitar in a shamanic shimmy, while piling layer upon layer of luxurious, haunting space-rock on top of all the din.
   In fact, Tommy continually felt inspired from heaven-knows-where to play not just whole songs, but rich textures drawn from decades of music of all kinds, to create newly discovered musical art.

  “Amazing Grace” was a gospel tune updated and expanded with a jaunty soul while “Classical Gas” turned into nothing more than Tommy's own musical monstrous creation with riffs echoing everything from medieval passages to Led Zeppelin-like swagger. His own “Ruby's Eyes” and African-style compositions paid homage to the persons and places that have inspired him.
   Ultimately, I found yet again Tommy to be not only musically inspiring, but also a real-life example of how hard work really satisfies the soul and ultimately learned a great lesson in giving. To top things off, our guest was most gracious in accepting the adulation we bestowed upon him and provided the plainspoken wisdom that connected where it counts.
   Tommy continually smiled, displayed true affection for the happening, and explained to the mere mortals that the key to it all was things such as sticking to it — repetition helped him improve musically — and that all we really have sometimes to go on is faith, and that was enough, for all of us.
   On this night, the faithful were more than rewarded by Tommy, their own guitar hero!
   Louis Araujo is a music fan from Three Rivers.


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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