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In the News - Friday, March 12, 2010

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Voting continues for

'America's Coolest Small Town'

Click Here to VOTE Now!

     Voting will continue through May 9 in Budget Travel magazine’s online competition to see which U.S. community will be named America’s Coolest Small Town. The top 10 winners, as determined by the magazine’s editors, will be featured in the October issue, according to the magazine’s website.
   Three Rivers was one of 21 American towns selected from 147 nominations. It is not known who nominated Three Rivers.
When this contest was reported in the newspaper last week (“Vote 3R ‘America’s Coolest Small Town’”), Three Rivers was in 19th place out of 21. As of Thursday morning, March 11, Three Rivers has moved up to 16th place.
   To date, nearly 40,000 votes have been cast. Three Rivers has 542 of those with the leader, Eli, Minn., having nearly 7,500. At this point, Three Rivers needs to double its votes to break into the top 10.
Share this with friends and family, too, as the competition will be stiff from here on out.

Three Rivers hits 20.20 in rainfall

  No, it’s not a catchy new TV news show featuring Three Rivers, but it is a milestone in a season shaping up to be an extraordinary weather year. After the .36 inches of rainfall that was recorded on Monday-Tuesday this past week, Three Rivers reached 20.20 inches of rainfall for the current season.
   With more on the way today, and a good chance for even more in the next six weeks, water watchers couldn’t be happier to see a normal year up and down a state that depends heavily on snowmelt to satisfy an unquenchable demand for water.
   The March 1 statewide snow survey showed normal, or slightly above normal, snowpack readings for all the major basins in California. The current statewide average is 107 percent of normal for both snowpack and water content.
   Relative to the April 1 norm, the news was just as good as forecasters don’t see any appreciable changes for the rest of the month. In the Kaweah and Tule drainages the numbers are the highest in the entire state.
   The Kaweah drainage — which includes snow check points at Farewell Gap, 9,500 feet; Panther Meadow, 8,600 feet; Hockett Meadows, 8,500 feet; Mineral King, 8,000; and Giant Forest, 6,400 feet — is showing an impressive basin average of 143 percent. That translates to 127 percent of the April 1 norm.
   The Tule numbers are just off the charts. In two data collection points, the current basin average stands at 350 percent with a projected April 1 norm of 253 percent. That should guarantee the Springville area the most water that they’ve seen since 1998 with similar runoff projected for the Kaweah.
   The remote sensor at Farewell Gap is a good indicator of how much water is actually up there at 9,500 feet. As of 10 a.m. Thursday, March 11, there was 118.20 inches of snow on the ground with a water content of 38.92 inches of water. The air temperature was in the 40s under sunny skies.
   On January 1, 2010, there was less than 40 inches of snow on the ground at Farewell Gap with a water content of approximately 10 inches. That’s three times the snow and four times the water in a little over two months.
   Now that’s a leap forward in the right direction… and there’s more where that came from.

SFCC seeks board members

  At the quarterly mixer of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce held Wednesday evening, March 10, at The Gateway Restaurant, Arlin Talley, vice president, made an appeal for some new board members. The local business booster group is down to four board members and, according to the group’s by-laws, is permitted to have up to 11 directors.
   The current board members represent three sectors of the local business community. As a computer consultant, Tony Moreno, president, represents services; Arlin Talley, vice president and pastor of Community Presbyterian Church, represents nonprofits; Catherine Launey, secretary, operates Three Rivers Bed & Breakfast and, with Chris Schlossin, treasurer and owner of Sequoia Motel, represents the lodging industry. Adrienne Freeman, acting public information officer at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is the liaison with the local national parks.

  “We could use some help covering all the bases,” Talley told the gathering. “We need some more voices on the board.”
   Talley said the lack of board members does not mean that the chamber is not busy promoting the local business scene. Last month, he and Moreno, with the help of Team Diana from Century 21, attended the annual Los Angeles Times Travel Show in Long Beach.
   Moreno said the group interacted with more than 5,000 patrons at that venue. Several hundred signed up to be included in the Chamber’s database and most of these, he said, are potential visitors to Three Rivers.
   Gil Jaramillo, manager of the Central California Small Business Development Center, was the evening’s speaker. His Visalia office serves Tulare and Kings counties and is part of the U.C. Merced Regional Network.
   Currently, Jaramillo said, there are programs available that offer low or no-interest funding.

  “But one of the important things you do is networking with other people in business,” Jaramillo said. “The way you are going to survive in this tough economy is by helping each other.”

  “When someone comes into your business, whether they spend money or not, suggest some other way they can spend some money in this community. Don’t let those dollars go back down the hill,” he emphasized.
   The SBDC provides free business consulting and a portion of their funding comes from the Small Business Administration (SBA). But to get those dollars, Jaramillo said, the SBDC must furnish a match by fundraising. His dollars come from corporate donations and chambers of commerce just like this one, he said.
   It’s not difficult to get funding to grow a business. Jaramillo said his office has a basic business plan form that the applicant fills out and takes to a bank like the Bank of the Sierra.
   The SBA guarantees that the money will be repaid. Under the Obama stimulus package, Jaramillo said, even a bigger percentage of that money is being guaranteed.
   The American Recovery Capital Loan Program (ARC) is also being offered to help small businesses weather the current economic woes. Wells Fargo is one three area banks that will make this loan of up to $35,000 for small businesses until September 2010 or whenever the money runs out.

  “Regardless of what you hear, there are no grants to for-profits,” Jaramillo said. “There are individuals who charge a fee for their help but that’s all they do: help you locate money that is not there.”
Jaramillo concluded his remarks by saying that he has seen a gradual upturn in the economy. Instead of a number of foreclosures like he saw in 2009, now he is seeing more start-ups and expansions.
   Dahl Cleek, Tulare County’s undersheriff, also made some brief remarks. Since the first of the year, the sheriff’s dispatcher has received more than 200 calls, of which he said 90 were the errant 911 calls.

  “We get a lot of those calls during stormy weather,” Cleek said.
Cleek also announced that a new 211 calling system is now operational that will help county residents get connected with the right service or resource. 

  “Our mission is to work together with the community,” he concluded.

3R business owner named

'Entrepreneur of the Year'

  Two Three Rivers women were nominated for the 2010 Entrepreneurs of the Year awards and were in attendance at the fifth annual “Recognizing Excellence in Entrepreneurship” luncheon Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Visalia Convention Center. The annual event, sponsored by the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation, is intended to recognize Tulare County entrepreneurs.
   Three Rivers nominees were Janene Lasswell of Ja Nene Natural Body Products and Christy Wood of Wood ‘N’ Horse Training Stables. Both were recognized for their entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and creativity, all of which is of benefit to the betterment of Tulare County.
   Janene was presented with the Entrepreneur of the Year-Creative Award. Starting in 2003 with a small home business, Janene has since expanded to the Internet and added a wholesale division and two retail locations — in San Luis Obispo and anew shop adjacent to her Three Rivers home.
   She creates products for skincare, bath, household, and pets that are safe, botanically derived, and organic. She currently has 67 products, including her newest Holo-Holo lotion.
   Last month, Janene also received a beautification award from the City of San Luis Obispo for her retail shop that she opened there in October.
   Christy Wood is a horse trainer and instructor, as well as a world-champion rider, internationally acclaimed horse-show judge and, as of last year, an author. A total of 12 Tulare County business owners were nominated.
   The event was combined with the Tulare County Office of Education’s Student Entrepreneur Challenge. Eight teams of students from Tulare, Kings, and Fresno county high schools submitted business plans and made a live presentation. Golden West High School took first place in this competition while a Monache High School senior received a $1,000 scholarship for her essay about the potential of technology-based vertical farming.

EBC honors school volunteers

  Three Rivers Union School support groups (Three Rivers PTA, 1930-2003; Eagle Booster Club, 2004-2010) have been honoring exemplary staff and volunteers annually for 60 years. As a result, 80 community members — superintendent/principals, teachers, administrative staff, instructional aides, support staff, parents, clergy, artists, and community volunteers — have been recognized for their commitment in one way or another to Three Rivers School students.
   Here are some of the past TRUS award winners who may still be seen around town: Bill Hart (1964), Manuel Andrade (1973), Isabelle Elmer (1977), Gaynor McKee (1979, 1984), Pat O’Connell (1985), Wayne and Connie Lentz (1986), Donnie and Trish Stivers (1992), Bobbie Harris (1994), and Ray Murry (1995), and a few dozen more since then.
   On Wednesday, March 3, five Three Rivers residents were honored and will be added to the esteemed list of TRUS boosters. The recognition ceremony was preceded by a delectable Mexican feast prepared and hosted by the TRUS seventh grade and highlighted by a salsa bar and beautiful Latin music by Jesse Belman and Friends.
   The honorees were treated to dinner, compliments of the TRUS seventh grade. Immediately following the dinner, an Eagle Booster Club meeting began with Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent/principal, introducing this year’s winning Poetry and Prose students, who recited their poems.
   Maria Howell, Eagle Booster Club board representative, introduced this year’s honorees and presented them with plaques: Lee Crouch, TRUS Foundation president; Gregory Lockhart, TRUS Foundation treasurer; and Pam Lockhart, longtime TRUS Foundation director. John and Sarah Elliott were honored for their volunteer work as well as their ongoing support of the school via The Kaweah Commonwealth.

Woodlake honors those

who make a difference

by Brian Rothhammer

  Three Rivers student Ben Pfenninger, who is a senior at Woodlake High School, was awarded with the 2009 Youth of the Year award by the Kiwanis Club of Woodlake on Saturday, Feb. 27. At the 48th annual Woodlake Awards Banquet, Pfenninger and eight other citizens were recognized for exemplary service to their community.
   The 2009 Business of the Year award was presented to Santos Herrera. Herrera brought the Iron Grip Gym to Woodlake in 1995 and has developed a loyal clientele of fitness-minded neighbors. His feelings of civic pride and desire to promote the health and vitality of   Woodlake’s citizens extends to all who come by his gym and was echoed by the other award recipients during the banquet.
   Rosellia Cordova of Woodlake, another accomplished WHS student, accepted her Youth of the Year award by saying, “Have the courage to take chances, so you don’t question what might have been.”
   The 2009 Spirit of Woodlake award was presented to Woodlake police officer Jesus Mendez, the Woman of the Year award went to Terry Thompson, Man of the Year for 2009 was Rudy Garcia, and the 2009 Lifetime Achievements award was presented to Manuel “Rusty” Moran.
   Pastor of the Decade was awarded to Charles Castles, and Nicole Hocker Glentzer received the Inspiration Award.
   Ben Pfenninger is a busy guy. He has been class president for all of his four years at Woodlake High; is a drum major for the school’s marching band; WHS student representative to the board of trustees; journalism co-editor; member of Tulare County Youth Council; performs in theatre arts productions, concert band, and the jazz band; was co-chair for the 2009 WHS Career Day; and chair of last year’s Veterans Honor Day.
   Also a member of Woodlake’s award-winning Mock Trial Team, Ben advises, “Those who say the impossible cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it!”

Chamber honors February 'Heroes'

  Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s second Hero Appreciation Months party of three scheduled for this year honored local law enforcement and peace officers. The gathering was held at the Three Rivers Historical Museum on Friday, Feb. 26.   Refreshments, including homemade Creole black bean soup, cheesecake, fudge, and cookies were provided, prepared by Leah Catherine Launey, event organizer.
   Awards presented to each recipient included a custom-made trophy created by local artists and Phil Stewart of Stewart Laser Designs in Exeter. Also provided were certificates of recognition and a coupon for a free night’s stay at Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast.
   Three Rivers resident Don Thompson was one of the evening’s honorees. He said he has been a “volunteer” all his life, so when he moved to Three Rivers, he wasn’t doing anything different. For the past six years, he and his wife Evelyn have been volunteers with the Volunteers-in-Patrol, who assist the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department by providing them with extra eyes and ears.
   Lieutenant David Galloway of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was also honored. He retired in January after 31 years of service with the department.
   What will he recall about his time spent in Three Rivers? (1) Cell phones don’t work here; and (2) being roasted at Town Hall meetings.
Undersheriff Dahl Cleek said the Three Rivers Volunteers-in-Patrol have saved the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department a lot of money and made it so much easier to keep the peace here and in other areas of our county. He said some VIPs have served hundreds of hours. He noted that one female VIP has served 25,000 hours.
   Cleek also introduced Lt. Tom Sigley, who is replacing David Galloway. Sigley was formerly in the Ag Crimes division.
Captain Jim Hinsley was also in attendance. He served as the resident deputy in Three Rivers from 1980 to 1981, serving just before former Deputy Kevin Bohl received his Three Rivers assignment. Hinsley said Three Rivers was his favorite assignment, and it was very hard to leave.
   When Bohl asked why Hinsely was leaving, Hinsley said he wanted to advance in the Department, so he had to leave, but the pull of the area was so strong, he knew he must get out now, or he wouldn’t ever want to leave Three Rivers. He warned the incoming deputy who failed to heed his advice, continuing to serve in Three Rivers for the next 17 years.
   Also introduced at the gathering was Deputy Al Brockman, who is working in Three Rivers while Deputy Fansett is recovering from surgery.
   Cleek also described the increased presence that Sheriff Wittman has been working hard to maintain in Three Rivers, so that even if the resident deputy is off duty, there is someone patrolling. He spoke about the fact that law enforcement is often a coordinated effort and the Sheriff’s Department works in cooperation with the California Highway Patrol, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service.
   Leah Catherine Launey, Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce director and Heroes Appreciation Months organizer, contributed this article.

Win four nights at Big Meadows Guard Station

  The recently formed Big Meadows Association is holding a fundraiser raffle in which the winner will receive a stay in the Big Meadows Guard Station from July 23 to 27, a privilege that is generally difficult to obtain.
   The guard station is located at 7,600 feet elevation, about three miles up the Big Meadows Road from the Generals Highway in Giant Sequoia National Monument. In addition to its pristine location and views, it is conveniently located near fishing, hiking, Buck Rock Lookout, Sequoia and Kings National Parks, and all the region has to offer.
   The cabin is furnished with 900 square feet, one story, and has one bedroom with a queen bed and twin bunkbeds, bathroom, living room with sofa sleeper, kitchen, and service porch. There is room for tents and an RV outside. Cabin occupants need only to bring their own linens and food.
   The kitchen is fully outfitted and there is hot water and propane gas. No smoking or pets are allowed inside the cabin.
To enter the drawing, email bigmeadowsassn@yahoo.com or call 805-0281. Donations are $5 per ticket.
   All proceeds will benefit the Big Meadows Association, which maintains and stocks the Big Meadows Warming Hut in the winter and also provides periodic grooming of the Big Meadows Road during the snowy season. The drawing will be held Sunday, May 30.

Tule's: The new yogurt culture

  A new frozen yogurt parlor has opened in the Winco shopping center in Visalia. Look for it on the westernmost side of the complex near the corner of Caldwell and Chinowth streets.
   Tule’s is owned and operated by Edward and Korin (Shultz) Guerena... See story here

Seven decades

'above ground' for Dr. Georgi

  Ronald P. Georgi, D.C. of Woodlake celebrated his 70th birthday at the River View Restaurant in Three Rivers. Guests in attendance included family and friends from as far away as Mexico City and Switzerland, and as nearby as Badger and Bakersfield.
   They were entertained by stories of how it was for Dr. Georgi growing up in the 1940s, an era before televisions, computers, cell phones, automatic transmissions, and air conditioners.
“We didn’t even have an electric refrigerator,” he said.
   The big event on a hot summer day was the arrival of the ice man, who would throw chunks of ice to a gaggle of kids, he recalled.
   He also recounted trips to Germany, China, and Mexico. Then said, the past was great, but the future is where we are all going to spend the rest of our lives.
   Dr. Georgi also announced his retirement date: Oct. 20, 2030. That is when he will publish his book “From the 40s to the 30s: A Journey Through the 20th and 21st Centuries.”
   In closing, Dr. Georgi stated, “At my age, everyday above ground is a good one.”


'My single-most favorite recipe'

by Tina St. John

This week: Elizabeth

   This week’s recipe comes from sibling number three. Elizabeth is an artist extraordinaire and a calm, quiet, introspective person.
   I always think of her as resembling my father the most in character and stature. Growing up I remember Elizabeth being considerate of others; not a trait one might find in most siblings in a family our size, but she was.
   She always looks great with her classic fashion sense. She definitely loves the finer things in life.
   As a painter, her medium is oils and mixed media. She has the ability to bring a picture to life, literally.
   Flowers are her expertise. Someday, perhaps, I’ll be able to afford a piece of her work but for now I admire from afar. She achieved her Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
   Elizabeth currently lives in Denver with her partner Chris and her dog Allez Coucher, which is a very meaningful name in our family.
Allez coucher means “go lay down” in French. This is what my French (maternal) grandfather said to his dog the first time he met my father after the dog jumped on my dad. So my dad thought that was the dog’s name!
   After my mother died, my dad got a dog and named him Allez Coucher.
   Elizabeth’s favorite recipe is a Belgian dish called Waterzooi of Chicken.
   Bon Appetit!

Elizabeth's Waterzooi of Chicken

This is a well-known Belgian dish, originating in Flanders. Waterzooi is something between soup and stew and served in soup plates.

4 tbs. butter
4 large leeks, white parts only, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 parsley sprigs
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground thyme
1 bay leaf
1 4-5 lb. roasting chicken, ready to cook
6-8 cups well-flavored chicken bouillon
3 egg yolks
½ cup heavy cream
Juice of lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in large, heavy casserole kettle. Cook all the vegetables and herbs in it for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the vegetables are semi-soft. Do not let brown. Lay the chicken on the vegetables and pour enough bouillon over it to cover the bird. Cover, bring to the boiling point, and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Discard the skin, bone it, and cut the chicken into pieces. Keep the meat in as large pieces as possible and keep warm in 250 degree oven. Strain the chicken broth into a saucepan. Place over high heat and reduce to 4 cups. In a heated soup tureen, beat together the egg yolks and the cream. Slowly stir in the chicken broth and the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken pieces and serve immediately, with either boiled potatoes or well-buttered slices of brown bread.


Cleve Hunter

1915 ~ 2010

  Cleve N. Hunter of Three Rivers died Thursday, Feb. 24, 2010. He was 94.
   A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 13, at 10:30 a.m., at Church at Kaweah.
   Cleve was born November 18, 1915, in Southern California to Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Hunter. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1945. He retired as a maintenance man with Richfield Oil Company.
   In 1954, Cleve married the former Geri Acord. The couple moved to Three Rivers in 1977.
   In addition to his wife of nearly 55 years, Geri Hunter of Three Rivers, Cleve is survived by his son, William Hunter; daughter Judy Moore; three grandchildren; and one great grandson.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Cleve’s memory to the Church at Kaweah, 44069 North Fork Drive, Three Rivers, CA 93271.

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
© Copyright 2003-2009 The Kaweah Commonwealth