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In the News - Friday, March 1, 2013




Anjelica Huston’s Three Rivers property

is star attraction of Garden Tour 2012


  For the third year, the Three Rivers Union School Foundation will be hosting the Hidden Gardens of Three Rivers Tour. The theme of this year’s tour is local farms and ranches.

  Four properties will be on display, including the celebrity headliner, Anjelica Huston’s colorful country getaway. The Academy Award-winning actor has owned the historic ranch — which includes an adobe main house, guest houses, and outbuildings — for nearly 30 years.

  It is unlikely that Anjelica will be on-site during the tour, but participants will get to feel her presence as they wander the gardens, orchards, and native landscape on the historic property that is her retreat.

   Other properties that will be open to the public in support of Three Rivers Union School include one that has been in the same family for 75 years and is now an aromatic and colorful farm of flowers, an organic produce farm, and a ranch that consists of colorful architecture, a pond, and lots more to view.

  The 2013 Garden Tour will take place Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to the sprawling, picturesque properties, there will be music, artists, and food at each venue.

  Tickets are $40 per person and now on sale at www.trusfoundation.org (pay by credit card via PayPal) or by contacting any TRUS Foundation board member.

  Tour guides— It takes a village to host a garden tour. As such, volunteers are needed to serve as docents; garden expertise is not necessary.

  Volunteers will be stationed at an assigned property on the day of the tour to help with parking or other logistics, but will be able to visit all the gardens during the mandatory pre-tour that is held to work out any organizational kinks.

  To enlist, contact Pam Lockhart, 471-6624.


Landmark book details 3R history



Dog Ear Publishing

(February 2013)

355 pages, paper, $19.95


  What does a newly widowed Three Rivers gal do to recover from the loss of her beloved husband? If you are Sophie Britten, you seek new purpose in life and set about compiling and publishing the most Three Rivers history ever assembled under a single title.

  And it’s been almost 20 years in the making. The recently released, self-published history Pioneers in Paradise: A Historical and Biographical Record of Early Days in Three Rivers, California, 1850s to 1950s, is a neatly packaged, 335-page labor of love.

  Involving countless hours of research and writing, Sophie said publishing the book also involved a huge expense. It was a grant, she said, from the Tulare County Historical Society that finally got her over the hump and enabled her to see the project to completion.

  “A book like this has never been done before in Three Rivers,” Sophie said. “I felt it was extremely important to utilize the collection of material that I had in my possession.”

  The majority of the collection, she continued, came to her by happenstance right about the time she was seeking inspiration and direction for the rest of her life. Not long after the death of her husband,  John Britten Sr. (born in Three Rivers in 1911; died in Three Rivers in 1995), Sophie was rummaging through boxes when she came upon several full to the brim with tattered news clippings, some very old and replete with handwritten notes.

  As she examined the treasure trove more carefully she realized she had the newspaper archives of Frankie Luella Welch (a Britten descendant), who had faithfully penned Three Rivers articles for The Fresno Bee and Visalia Times-Delta for more than a half century (1924-1977).

  Since Frankie Welch was paid by the column inch, she was careful to save every article she ever wrote, obviously, Sophie surmised, to someday write a book on local history. So Sophie set about completing what Frankie had started: writing the history of Three Rivers.

Sophie admits that the book is not intended to be the final authority on any of the facts as they are presented.

  “I could certainly tell who Frankie liked and what she was interested in, and that she just chose to ignore certain people,” Sophie said. “There were many more early settlers, places, and events not included in this book or in Frankie’s articles.”

  Sophie’s choice for what she included in her book is divided into two parts. The first part includes events, places, and things; the second part consists of brief sketches of some early-day families and their histories.

  Through the century recounted in this work, people come and go; some stay on the land, raise a family, and die here. This history, Sophie said, reflects only a small part of what these early pioneers had to endure to make a living and fulfill their own dreams of making a fresh start of finding new freedoms.

  The forces of nature they encountered were much the same as what residents contend with today — namely fires and floods — but they were required to be much more self-reliant. It’s difficult to find any pioneer family that was not wiped out by a flood or who had not experienced a devastating fire.

  Through good times and bad, these pioneers shared a common goal: to make the best life possible for their families and to help each other when times were tough. Not so different from life in Three Rivers today.

  Sophie will be discussing her book and signing copies tomorrow (Saturday, March 2) at Anne Lang’s Emporium. It is also available for purchase online at www.brittenbooks.net.


Neighbor Profile feature updated


  We here at The Kaweah Commonwealth are honored to have Miriam Gentry as the Neighbor Profile in this, our 18th-anniversary issue.

  Miriam provided inspiring answers to a couple of new categories on the Profile, which were rolled out in tandem with the beginning of the 19th year of publication of the Commonwealth.

  A segment sure to become a favorite of readers and the Profilees alike is “Your Six-Word Bio.” This idea came about when I heard a broadcast on NPR in which Larry Smith was interviewed about his creation of the “Six-Word Memoir.” Miriam took the challenge and answered it succinctly and with flair.

  Think you can summarize your life into a half-dozen carefully crafted words? Hopefully, this will make all of us pause, reflect, and even laugh.

  How did Smith come up with the idea for Six-Word Memoirs? He caught my interest by saying there’s a legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. He wrote: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” If that doesn’t pique your interest...

  The idea is as simple, and as hard, as it sounds: tell the story of your life in exactly six words. Think of it as the title of your autobiography or your epitaph.

  Here are a few more provocative six-word “memoirs” that have turned up on Twitter:

  “According to Facebook we broke up.”

  “Mom’s Alzheimer’s: she forgets, I remember.”

  “They said to follow my dreams.”

  “Humans are my number one fear.”

  “Knew everything at twenty. Not now.”

  “He waited forty-seven years for me.”

  “Flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts in January.”

  At its core, the Six-Word Bio category is about self-expression. It will be thought-provoking and could prove quite addictive. Admit it: you’re working on your Six-Word Bio right now.

  If you have not yet taken part in the Neighbor Profile, we would love to have you. It is becoming an incredible archive of life in Three Rivers. Call us!


Camp Zap embarks on 15th year of weekend youth outings


Here are the captions that accompanied photos:


Children in grades three through six were picked up by the Tulare County LOOP bus on Saturday, Feb. 23, and taken to the Lemon Cove ranch of John and Minerva Zapalac. The LOOP Bus provides at-risk youth with free transportation to free activities that connect them to mentoring and gang-prevention programs throughout Tulare County. The program is funded by Measure R and the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.


A camper learns the game of horseshoes as camp founder, John Zapalac, former Woodlake police chief, oversees the competition. “The relationships we build with the kids at a young age help prevent problems when they are in high school,” said John. This was the 56th campout held at Camp Zap since 1999.


A young camper contemplates a future as a mariner [on the pond in a canoe]. Additional outdoor recreation at the camp includes horseback riding, hiking, team sports, obstacle races, and scavenger hunts. The weekend is provided at no charge to the participants. 


Over the years, guest speakers have ranged from ex-gang members to juvenile court judges. At the recent campout, those offering motivation to the youth included Rudolfina Sjostrand, professional violinist from Slovenia and a member of Visalia’s Celebrant Singers, and Daniel Longoria, a licensed addiction specialist.


Campers get creative during arts and crafts. Joining the many people who assisted at the camp this session were Family HealthCare Network and Americorps volunteers.


Over 170 Tulare County youth attended the weekend-long camp from the communities of Woodlake, Ivanhoe, Seville, Visalia, Richgrove, and Earlimart. Meals were provided by Woodlake’s Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.


The Lifestyle Center offers family health series


By Holly Gallo


  The Lifestyle Center in Visalia is currently enrolling families to participate in the center’s upcoming “Healthy Habits: TAKE CHARGE!” weight management program. Participants have until March 15 to enroll in the six-week program, wherein they will attend classes from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for six consecutive Tuesdays.

  Under the direction of a registered dietitian, children, teens, and their families will learn how to take control of their food and exercise habits. Each family will also receive 12 months of support following the class series.

  According to Alana Unger, registered dietitian at The Lifestyle Center, one in six American children are obese and 70 percent of those children will become obese adults.

  “This is a great opportunity for children, teens, and parents or other caregivers to learn how to make healthy lifestyle changes together,” Unger said. “This program is about adopting healthy habits now so that children become healthy adults.”

  To enroll or to receive more information about the program, call Alana at 624-3448. A limited number of scholarships are available but some restrictions do apply.

  The Lifestyle Center, a division of Kaweah Delta Health Care District, is a medically-based fitness and rehabilitation facility staffed with certified professionals. It is open daily and located at 5105 W. Cypress Ave. in Visalia.

  For information about membership at The Lifestyle Center, call 624-3400 or visit thelifestylecenter.org.


COS risks losing accreditation


By Holly Gallo


  College of the Sequoias in Visalia could face the loss of its accreditation and, ultimately, closure after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges found the institution to be in a state of substantial non-compliance with eligibility requirements and recommendations given during a 2006 evaluation by the Commission.

  Unless the college can demonstrate that it is in full compliance with these standards, the Commission will terminate accreditation, effective at the end of the spring semester 2014. COS is required to complete a Show Cause Report and Closure Report by October 15, 2013, at which point Commission representatives will visit the site to determine whether reaffirmation of accreditation for the institution will occur.

  “This is an internal issue,” Stan Carrizosa, COS president, said at a public meeting. “It’s about how we work together.”

  Carrizosa also instigated the creation of the 2013 COS Accreditation Response Task Force, a team of 40 members representing COS students, staff, faculty, and administrators who will address the issues noted by the ACCJC.

  On Thursday, Feb. 21, the Task Force held its first meeting to discuss the aspects of the Show Cause order, the role of the task force itself, and the purpose of the soon to be appointed Accreditation Community Advisory Committee. The Task Force will meet weekly at least until the end of the current semester, and Carrizosa will be publishing updates in the COS eNews, accessible via www.cos.edu.

  The 2006 evaluation outlined three Eligibility Requirements that COS had failed to achieve and issued seven recommendations. COS was found to be deficient in fully defining, publishing, and assessing student learning outcomes for all programs; faculty had failed to include required assessment of learning in the development and review of curriculum; and the institution neglected to improve upon the processes for institutional planning and evaluation.

  The ACCJC put forth seven recommendations to be considered in order to show cause why COS’s accreditation should not be revoked. Four are repeated recommendations of the 2006 evaluation, recommending that the college strengthen planning processes, improve campus climate, advance progress on student learning outcomes via assessment, and improve counseling service for students.

  New recommendations include increasing the research capacity of the college in order to compile and provide data to guide institutional planning and effectiveness, improving the human resource processes to establish a clear connection between employee evaluation and improvement, and developing a systematic evaluation of its decision-making and budget development processes.

  According to the ACCJC Accreditation Reference Handbook (July 2012 edition), in the event that COS does fail to establish proper means to maintain accreditation and is shut down, the college must arrange for students who are currently enrolled to have their basic educational needs met through the closing process and must be prepared to transfer all student records to alternative institutions should any given student choose to continue their education elsewhere.

  Furthermore, the school must arrange for students who have completed 75 percent of their academic degrees or programs to have their degree or program completed through another institution’s program of equitable quality and content. The student would still receive the degree from COS, and the institution’s legal existence would be conditionally maintained for up to 18 months past the closing date in order to issue the degrees.

  Porterville Community College is the closest community college to Visalia. There is no four-year university in Tulare County.




Marge Sherwood


  Marjorie Holbrook Sherwood of Three Rivers died peacefully early on Sunday morning, Feb. 24. She had just turned 96.

  Marge was born February 16, 1917, in Lombard, Ill. Shortly after, she moved with her family to White Plains, N.Y., where she spent her youth and attended high school. After graduating from high school, she became a registered nurse, working at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City.

  When Marge was 23, she met a young Navy lieutenant named Stephen Sherwood. They fell in love and were married in 1942. Her first child, Diana, was born in 1943, and son David came along four years later.

  Marge spent 42 years as a naval officer’s wife, moving every two or three years. She loved and supported Steve in his career.

  They both enjoyed traveling and meeting new people. They traveled around the world and left a trail of close friends wherever they went.

  Marge was widowed in 1984. In 1999, she moved for the last time, joining her son and family in Three Rivers, the place she called her true home.

  Marge loved the beauty and serenity of Three Rivers. And she loved life, both here and everywhere she lived.

  She lived in her own home in Cherokee Oaks for six years. While there, she developed and cherished a circle of close women friends whom she greatly enjoyed.

In 2005, she joined her son, David Sherwood, and his wife, Sue, in their Three Rivers home.

  “We were fortunate to have her as a very close part of our lives for eight years,” said Sue.

Marge loved and cherished her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and they were all a part of her life.

  Marge is survived by her son, David Sherwood; “daughter-in-love,” Sue Sherwood; her granddaughter, Allison Millner, and husband Dane of Three Rivers; her grandson, Scott Sherwood, and wife Cynthia of Three Rivers; her grandson, Brian Sherwood, and wife Kathleen of Stockton; and three great-grandchildren, Hannah, Christina, and Sierra Sherwood, all of Three Rivers.

  Marge was preceded in death by her daughter, Diana Sherwood; her sister, Ruth Ensign; and her husband of 42 years, Stephen Sherwood.







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
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