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In the News - Friday, MARCH 9, 2007

Out of the clear blue sky

A tale of contrails

   If time travelers from before the mid-20th century were to visit on any of the crystal clear mornings earlier this week, they would have been amazed by the Kaweah Country sky. What, they might ask, are all those straight white lines?
   These artificial clouds, manufactured by humans, are a very new phenomenon in the history of the planet’s atmosphere. Modern skywatchers know these crisscrossing white cloud-like lines as contrails.
   Contrails form behind aircraft when warm exhaust mixes with cold air, causing water vapor to condense high in the sky. The process is like seeing your breath on a cold day.
   These artificial, cloud-like vapor trails can be eerie in number, especially on a busy air traffic day when conditions are conducive to their persistence. Weather-watchers pay attention to these cirrus-like clouds because how they react with atmospheric conditions is a sure sign of the weather that’s in store for a region where contrails are present.
   On days where the vapor trails disappear quickly or do not form at all behind high-flying airliners, dry weather is a certainty. If the air aloft contains some moisture, contrails form immediately behind the aircraft, but are of short duration.
   In very moist air, like what followed the recent stormy period, contrails may persist for many hours. The reason that they lasted so long this week was that they had developed in very calm conditions.
   Longer lasting contrails grow wider and fuzzier with each passing hour as the air aloft moves them. As the straight lines become less distinct, they begin to appear more like normal cirrus clouds.
   At high altitudes, stronger winds may transport these contrails far from the areas where they first formed. In 1996, NASA satellites tracked contrails over California and the southern United States that lasted 17 hours and expanded to enormous sizes.
   A single contrail, observed in the NASA study, expanded to a size larger than the state of Connecticut. An apparent increase in the number of cirrus clouds during the past 30 years seems to correlate with increased air traffic and is yet another example of how unprecedented human activity might be related to climate change.
   Scientists are currently studying the effects of contrails and are especially interested in whether they cause cooling or heating of the ground below. Contrails are denser than normal cirrus clouds so their whiteness may reflect more sunlight than natural clouds.
   Intriguing study conditions of this phenomenon were created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when all aircraft were grounded. Without contrails to modify the weather, daytime temperatures reportedly fluctuated higher and nighttime temperatures were lower in areas that normally experienced lots of air traffic and contrail formation.

3R burglary ring busted

   It was a far cry from Marlon Brando’s role in The Godfather but witnesses testifying in the trial of Stan McDowall of Three Rivers used terms like “crime boss” and “conspiracy.” In all, McDowall, 67, was convicted on Tuesday, Feb. 27, of nine felony counts.
   A major part of Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Greenberg’s case against the 40-year Three Rivers resident was based on testimony by Rob Deaten, a former roommate of McDowall, now serving four years in prison from charges connected to the case. But it was stolen property that was traced to a Christmas Eve 2005 burglary of a Three Rivers home that convinced the jury to find the defendant guilty on all charges.
   Among the items that were stolen in that heist was the victim’s credit card. Shortly after the card disappeared, McDowall’s image, along with that of a co-conspirator, was captured on a store security camera where he was using the credit card to buy merchandise.
   Videotape of a similar scenario at Wal-Mart was also used to implicate McDowall as the “mastermind.” Investigators also recovered property at McDowall’s residence from several other area burglaries and a quantity of electrical equipment that had been stolen from the local storage yard of Diversified Electric.
   Ironically, if deputies had not been summoned in a bizarre New Year’s Eve shooting a few days after the 2005 Three Rivers burglary, McDowall might have evaded connection to that burglary.
   On that evening, a shotgun discharged, hitting the ground and spraying gravel at McDowall’s live-in girlfriend. Although she called 911, McDowall was not convicted in the incident. Sheriff’s deputies recovered stolen property during that visit and began looking into McDowall’s criminal activity.
   The tale turned more tragic Wednesday evening, March 7, when McDowall suffered burns in a vehicle fire at the Three Rivers Market. McDowall suffered severe facial burns but refused treatment at the scene.
   The sentencing phase of McDowall’s trial is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28.

Miss Stanislaus County hails

from Three Rivers

   For Jennifer LaMar, 21, who finished as the third runner-up in the Miss Tulare County pageant on February 24, her motto might be, if at first you don’t win, try again. Determined to give it another go, LaMar, who is also an art education major at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock, entered that county’s pageant on March 3 and was crowned Miss Stanislaus County.
   It might just be a first; two winners from the same town in the same year.
   In June, when the several dozen winners from around the state gather in Fresno to compete for the title of Miss California, Jennifer LaMar (Miss Stanislaus County) and Meaghan Swinney (Miss Tulare County) will be two very talented Three Rivers girls in an impressive field.

  “When I first found out that Miss Stanislaus County was the week after the Tulare County pageant, I wasn’t even sure I could enter both, but I was told it was okay,” said Jennifer, a college junior. “The Tulare contest had a lot more training than in Stanislaus, so I was really prepared to compete.”
   And compete she did. Like in the Tulare County rendition, “Jenn,” as she likes to be called, won the honors for best interview. Her proud grandfather, Jim LaMar of Three Rivers, an actor and veteran stage performer, attended both competitions and said several of the girls could have won both contests.

  “I don’t know what the judges saw differently in Stanislaus, maybe this time they liked her [Jenn’s] maturity and experience,” said the elder LaMar. “Jenn didn’t really stand out in any one area more than another. She’s an all-around package.”

  “My talent was even stronger at Stanislaus,” said Jenn. “I made the subject matter of my artwork that I created on stage more challenging because I had gained confidence from doing the Tulare pageant.”
   When the nine Stanislaus competitors were waiting backstage to be announced, Jenn said she felt a very peaceful feeling.

  “I knew I had done the best I could ever have imagined doing, so it was up to God at that point,” said Jenn. “When I realized it was going to be me, I could hardly breathe. When I heard my name announced I couldn’t help but cry.”
   Now Jenn says she keeps looking over at the crown and wondering if it is real. She has even made the commitment to work out more and eat less pizza from now until the June pageant so she can look better in a swimsuit, she said.

  “One of the first messages on my cell phone was from Meaghan Swinney, congratulating me,” said Jenn. “I still don’t know how she found out so fast. I am really excited to be competing with her again and looking forward to us sharing with all of California what’s truly great about Three Rivers.”


Parents a necessary component

during sophomore counseling

by Sally Pace

   Now is the time for high school sophomores and their parents to meet with their counselor to plan their future. This is a great opportunity for parents and students to see all the opportunities available to them for their final years of high school and beyond.
   Woodlake High counselors will be sending letters this month to notify parents about these meetings. The counselors will discuss high school graduation requirements, academic and vocational test scores, and what each student will need to do to have all their options open for post-secondary education.
   All sophomores had the opportunity to take the PLAN test in the fall and the results will be reviewed, which gives students and parents an idea of how their child will do on the California High School Exit Exam and the ACT and SAT tests that are used for college entrance. In addition, students and parents will receive a

“Beyond Woodlake High School” booklet that has information on financial aid, the cost of all four college systems, the military, and options for testing out of high school early.
   The counseling appointment is an opportunity to create a very individual plan for your child’s future.
   Since the 1980s, when funds were made available through SB 813, each school district is required to meet with sophomores. Research has shown the students who are thinking about dropping out of high school make that decision during their sophomore year.
   As a counselor, I agree with this research and feel that parents play a very important role in their child’s success in school. Parents who make the effort to come to sophomore-counseling meetings are letting their child know the importance of school.
   I have only had one sophomore-counseling meeting with a student and parents who did not graduate on time. I am always amazed at the parents who do not make the effort to come to the meetings, which we have been willing to have as early as 6:30 a.m. or as late as 8 p.m.
   If you, as a parent, are unable to make the appointment that was scheduled by the school, call to reschedule. It is very easy for a high school student to convince their parents that they don’t need to come, but don’t listen; you do need to come!
   I hope all parents of sophomores will take advantage of this outstanding opportunity to be part of your child’s education and begin communication with your child’s academic counselor. You may be amazed at what you learn about your child at this meeting.


WHS teens receive

verdict in the courtroom

by Jordan Vieira

   Woodlake High School students were reintroduced to a unique academic competition this year that has not been offered on the campus for the past four years: Mock Trial.
   In a way, a Mock Trial competition can be paralleled to a drama performance. The differences are that the “play” is staged in a real courtroom, with a real judge, and without an absolute script.
   Each school has one prosecution and one defense team that argue the case against another school’s prosecution or defense counsel on alternate nights. There are a total of four guaranteed rounds for every school, two each for prosecution and defense.
   However, while the judge determines the outcome of the case and states the verdict, it is the “jury,” composed of three actual lawyers, that decides if the school will move on to the semifinals round.
   Kevin Skeen, a WHS math teacher, was the head coach this year and received the help of three lawyers — Paul Grecko, Tulare County deputy D.A.; Jean Bourn, juvenile defense attorney; and Russel Wilson, deputy superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and a former prosecutor — to instruct the students on America’s courtroom procedures and the construction of solid arguments.

  “We have a really great team this year with good support from our lawyer coaches,” said Kevin Skeen. “The students are very articulate with the case, and the experience they gain this year will make them unstoppable in the 2008 competition.”
   Little did any of us expect that we could be unstoppable this year. Our first night brought us against Buchanan (a Clovis school that was filling in for Monache and had already been through their county’s competition). Although this team has made it to state finals in the past, we put up a good fight, coming in behind them at about 40 points away. This round was not counted since Buchanan was a substitute.
   The other three “real” nights brought us glorious victory. We beat Lindsay, Exeter, and El Diamante (Visalia) in the rounds that actually counted toward our overall score.
   Our final competition was against Tulare Union in the semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the Tulare County Courthouse in Visalia. As a result of that round, we are ranked third in the county and Tulare Western is fourth. Tulare Union and Redwood battled it out on Thursday, Feb. 22, in the county finals with Redwood being proclaimed the winner that will represent Tulare County at the state competition in Oakland later this month.
   The 15 members of the WHS Mock Trial team concurred that preparing for this challenge was hard work, especially when we have a novice team, but learning how to construct our own arguments, becoming knowledgeable of the justice system, and just having plain fun battling the other schools in the courtrooms are the rewards.
   Next year, Woodlake High School will be unstoppable!

  Jordan Vieira is a sophomore at Woodlake High.


Life is like a garden:
Tending it is in your hands

by Kay Packard

   The buckeyes are popping out their leaves. The oaks will soon follow. Spring is imminent.
   Are you ready to put your hands into action, tilling the soil in your garden? We all know that trees, bushes, and flowers above ground are dependent on what’s going on below.
   Roots are nourished with fertilizer, different kinds of soil, worms, fallen leaves, and more. The healthiest garden requires attention, as does our life. Purposeful living can be compared to the care and attention you give your radiant garden.
   I’ve found at least two schools of thought on the whole living thing. One is through planning; the other through spontaneity.
   I am now exploring the spontaneous life after living the planned life for the last 30 years. In the corporate and academia worlds, I’m on what is called a sabbatical.
   I feel like I’m in heaven; it’s the best, most exotic vacation ever.
In the book called The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle drives home more than just the idea of living in the moment.
   He gets his readers to actually explore “being in the now” and the tremendous freedom in it. This makes for a glorious life of spontaneity.
   However, since most people are living the American dream — working, spending, and driving their cars — planning is essential for success. Can the two be integrated to breed spontaneous planning?
   Reconsider your garden and your purpose in it.
   Do you want to screen your property from the neighbors? Create beautiful scenery for the admiring passersby? Keep weeds down to pass fire inspection?
   Regardless of the reason, you take suitable steps to make it so.
   Try an experiment. Today, live with purpose.
  Take aim at times, and be open to surprises at other times. Consider the life of the plants in your garden and how they adapt to the elements as well as receive your gifts through churning the soil and pruning the limbs.
   Your hands provide precise indicators of your life’s purpose when read by a bona fide hand analyst.
   Revealing information about your character, challenges, gifts, and potential gives you tools for your development and for your blossoming.
   Whether you’re a planner or you live in the moment, visit the Sierra Garden Center in Three Rivers on Saturday, March 10, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., to buy a plant and have a professional hand reading.
   For more information, call 561-4490 or visit


Janet Gilman
1946 ~ 2007

   Janet Louise Miksch Gilman, who was raised in Three Rivers and currently resided in Rosamond, died Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007, after a courageous battle with lung cancer. She was 61.
   Janet was born February 6, 1946, to Byron J. and Laura Bell Miksch. Byron worked for Southern California Edison Company, and when Janet was five years old, the family relocated from Ivanhoe to Three Rivers when her father was transferred.
   Janet attended and graduated from Three Rivers School, Woodlake High School, and College of the Sequoias. She attended Golden Gate University and Cal State Bakersfield, where she earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration.
   Janet was employed as site manager and project analyst for GRD, a contractor for NASA at Edwards Air Force Base.
Janet was preceded in death by her parents, Byron Miksch (1916-2001) and Laura Bell Miksch of Three Rivers; a nephew, U.S. Navy Gunner’s Mate Justin Miksch (1982-2003); and her first husband, Jim Killebrew.
   Janet is survived by her husband, Leslie Monforton of Rosamond; son Doug Killebrew of Palmdale; grandson Josh Killebrew; sister Mary Margaret Andrade and husband Manuel of Three Rivers; niece Christine Burns and great-niece Laurabelle Burns of Lemon Cove; nephew Tim Andrade and wife Sherri and their children, Emily and Zachary, of San Luis Obispo; brother Byron Miksch Jr. of Three Rivers and his daughter, U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Shelby Miksch, stationed in Texas; stepmother Mary Miksch of Visalia; her in-laws; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and close friends.
   A celebration of Janet’s life will be held at a later date.
   The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the American Cancer Society


Leland Keller
1903 ~ 2007

   Leland “Kelly” Keller of San Juan Capistrano died Monday, Feb. 26, 2007. He was 103.
   In 1885, Kelly’s grandfather, Charles Keller, was a passenger on a train when he overheard a conversation about a “magnificent forest of giant redwoods” and, as a member of the Co-Operative Land Purchase and Colonization Association of San Francisco, investigated the matter, visited Giant Forest, and sent a report back to the organization. This was the beginning of the Kaweah Colony, a utopian experiment that determined the course of history of the area now known as Sequoia National Park.
   The Colony had disbanded by the time Kelly was born on August 15, 1903. But the family remained in the area.
Kelly’s father, Carl, was one of the first rangers in Sequoia National Park, where the family resided in the summer. Their winter home was in Kaweah, where they purchased the Halstead ranch.
   In the spring of 1915, Kelly’s mother died after a long illness. For the next three years, Kelly lived with relatives in Oregon.
   By 1917, Carl Keller was Sequoia’s chief ranger. The following year, Kelly returned to Kaweah.
   Kelly attended Woodlake High School and also drove the bus, delivering Three Rivers and Kaweah students to and from school. Before finishing high school, Leland moved to Santa Cruz.
   Leland Keller had a wish to visit Sequoia National Park one more time. A trip was planned for June with his niece and her husband. Now the visit will be a memorial service instead.

Karlene Stivers
1941 ~ 2007

   Karlene Hartlerode Stivers of Exeter died Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007. She was 65.
   In 1941, Karlene was born in Van Nuys to Kenneth and Barbara Hartlerode. She moved with her family to Three Rivers at a young age, attending Three Rivers School and Woodlake High School.
   The Hartlerode family lost their home in the December 1955 flood.
   On Jan. 13, 1961, Karlene married John Stivers, who was from Three Rivers. Karlene was a public health nurse and homemaker.
Karlene was preceded in death by her daughter, Crystal; brother Kenny; sister Gwendlyn; father Kenneth; and grandmother Winifred.
   In addition to her husband of 46 years, John, Karlene is survived by her children, John Stivers II of Bodfish, Stacy Stivers of Exeter, Todd Stivers of Elk Grove, and Peggy Castillo of Colorado; her mother, Barbara Hartlerode of Oregon; one brother, Charles Hartlerode; sisters Barbara Apostol and Elaine Jennings; 11 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
   Karlene will be interred at the Church at Kaweah Cemetery.
   Condolences may be sent to:

Tony Perez
1927 ~ 2007

   Tony Ambrose Perez, a resident of Three Rivers for 16 years, died Saturday, March 3, 2007, at Kaweah Delta Hospital. He was 79.
   Tony was born in France moved to the U.S. when he was 18. He worked in Alaska, building tracking satellites for the federal government before embarking on a long career in the construction industry.
   Tony was preceded in death by his wife of 45 years, Frances (1933-2005). He will be laid to rest next to her at the Exeter Cemetery.
   He is survived by his son, Tony, and wife LeAnn; and one granddaughter, Alexis Perez.

Joyce Lee
1929 ~ 2007

   Joyce Lee died Sunday, March 4, 2007, at her Three Rivers home. She was 78.
   A graveside service will be held today (Friday, March 9) at 2 p.m., at the Three Rivers Cemetery.
   Joyce was born Feb. 2, 1929, to Edward and Vera Race Fisher in Compton. In 1948, she married Andrew Lee in Taft.
   In 1961, the couple moved to Three Rivers. Joyce loved camping, fishing, packing into the backcountry, and traveling with her husband.
   Joyce is survived by her husband of 58 years, Andy, and many friends.

   The following are California residents killed in Iraq as announced by the governor’s press office this week:
   U.S. Army Private First Class Rowan D. Walter, 25, of Clovis, died Friday, Feb. 23, a day after he was injured when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Ramadi, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Sergeant Richard A. Soukenka, 30, of Oceanside died Tuesday, Feb. 27, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad.
   U.S. Army Specialist Christopher D. Young, 20, of Los Angeles, died Friday, March 2, as a result of injuries sustained when an IED detonated near his vehicle in Safwan, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Dustin M. Gould, 28, of Longmont, Colo., based at Camp Pendleton, died Friday, March 2, as a result of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Sailor/Hospital Corpsman Lucas W.A. Emch, 21, of Kent, Ohio, based at Camp Pendleton, died as a result of injuries sustained when an IED detonated nearby while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

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