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In the News - Friday, March 13, 2009

Resplendent in glimmering sunlight

is the Kaweah Marina at Lemon Hill with Terminus Dam in the background.

Current storage as of Thursday, March 12, at Lake Kaweah is 43,182 acre feet.

The mean inflow is 367 cubic feet per second and the outflow is just 17 cfs.


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Student struck in TRUS crosswalk

By John Elliott

   David Lowe, 15, a Woodlake High School sophomore, was struck by a westbound pickup truck when crossing the highway from Three Rivers School toward the Chevron Station. The victim miraculously received only minor injuries.
   The accident occurred Thursday, March 5, just after 6:30 p.m. The driver of the 1993 Chevy pickup, Andrew Denman Jr., 43, of Three Rivers, told a CHP investigating officer at the scene that he was traveling between 35 and 40 mph and never saw the pedestrian in the crosswalk.
   According to a preliminary accident report, the cause of the accident is listed as failure to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk. There was no indication that alcohol was a factor in the accident.
   Lowe had just been dropped off near the crosswalk by the Woodlake High School bus. There was at least one car parked on the south shoulder of the roadway in the vicinity of the crosswalk so the bus had to pull off the roadway farther up than usual, closer to the intersection of Eggers Drive.
   At the time of the accident, there were a large number of cars parked nearby and people in and around the Three Rivers School parking lot attending the school’s annual Recognition Night event and a dinner that was being served in the McDowall Auditorium. Witnesses at the scene reported that the pickup struck the victim a glancing blow causing him to become airborne at least eight feet.
   According to Lowe’s father, also named David, his son landed on his left side and was unconscious for at least 30 seconds. The elder Lowe was on his way walking along the highway en route from Chumps DVDs to meet his son when the accident occurred.

  “I arrived at the scene within 90 seconds of David being struck,” said the boy’s father. “By the time I got there, some people at the scene were with David who was lying near the north shoulder of the roadway.”
Lowe said a Tulare County Fire Department unit arrived a few minutes later and a paramedic checked his son to determine the extent of his injuries. A short time later, the Three Rivers Ambulance was on scene and transported the victim with his father to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia.

  “Once we arrived at the emergency room we sat in the hallway at least 30 minutes before they even did anything,” the boy’s father said. “After determining that there were was no internal bleeding, David was released about 10 p.m.”
   The boy’s father said his son only suffered a few bumps and bruises.

  “It was an absolute miracle that the accident was not more serious,” said the victim’s father. “Since the accident I’ve checked out that S-curve east of the crosswalk and there is no way that a vehicle approaching at 40 mph on a dark roadway can see someone in time to stop.”
   Lowe said that there needs to be more lighting at the crosswalk. The TRUS board of trustees is expected to address the crosswalk issue at its next meeting.
   Last Thursday’s accident was eerily similar to one that occurred at the same crosswalk on Feb. 17, 2004. In that 6 p.m. mishap, Sarah Farkas, at the time also a Woodlake High School sophomore, was struck by a pickup that also failed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
   Sarah suffered more extensive injuries, including head trauma and a broken pelvis, and was hospitalized at Children’s Hospital Central California. She has since recovered and currently attends college in Orange County.

3R woman victim of credit card fraud

by Brian Rothhammer

   Mary Famisaran owns Foragers Place, a cozy little shop next to Sierra Subs where she specializes in vintage Japanese textiles. On March 4, she went online at a local restaurant (no DSL at home) and had an unpleasant surprise.
   Not the food, that was fine, but while checking her business bank account she found the balance to be about $500 short. Four suspicious charges were pending, two in Inglewood and two in Los Angeles.
She called her bank at once to dispute the charges and cancel the credit card. She was told by their fraud department that she would have to wait until the charges cleared before they might be reversed.
   Telephoning her son, she was told about unscrupulous persons using cell phone cameras to snap images of another’s credit card when the unsuspecting person presented it to a merchant. Also, he said there are pinhole cameras that have been discovered at strategically placed vantage points to photograph cards as they are fed into readers mounted on gas pumps.
   On her next call to the bank’s fraud department, Mary found that not only was the fraud investigator familiar with such occurrences, but that she herself had been a victim of credit card fraud. Turns out that 35 online accounts had been opened and merchandise ordered using the card number that she had provided to a pizza delivery driver, and all on that same night within a six-hour period.
   The bank faxed forms to Mary, which she signed and returned. On her next call to them, she got a “rude man” on the line who told her that her card had been present at the suspect purchases. He advised her in such cases that the merchant was to provide copies of the transactions and had 30 days to do so.
   Thirty days of negative cash flow. The following day, a different (“nice lady”) investigator told her that although that was technically correct, the bank would not hold her funds for more than 10 days and, indeed, the funds were back in her account the following day.
   All in all, good lessons were learned in diligence and follow-through on the part of Famisaran as far as protecting assets and mitigating damage. What this local merchant and consumer realized is that credit card fraud is rampant and is certainly not limited to online purchases.
   Remember the old carbon copy credit card slips? It was so easy for larcenous types to simply keep the spare copy and use the number later for fraudulent purposes.
   It’s even easier now. It seems that with a simple digital photograph of anyone’s credit or debit card, thieves can reproduce the magnetic strip and affix a bogus strip to any plastic card and, voila, a usable duplicate of the original.
   This may be what happened to an unsuspecting Famisaran.
   Vigilance is the key to protecting yourself and your assets. Do not leave your card face up in plain view of anyone, even for a moment. Be aware of your surroundings.
   Even then, you may not be safe. A quick Google (or other engine) search of credit card fraud prevention will provide a wealth of information such as the federal limit of cardholder liability, which in theft cases is $50.

President of local Chamber resigns

   In challenging economic times, when stimulus packages and financial bailouts are the prescription for small businesses, an ailing chamber of commerce is not what the doctor ordered.
   Citing the struggling economy and the need to spend more time on business and with family, Johanna Kamansky abruptly announced Thursday, March 5, that she had resigned from the presidency and the board of directors of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce. The resignation, she said in an email correspondence, was effective immediately.
   Johanna cited that in the past 14 months as president she had volunteered more than 80 hours monthly and in three years on the board had volunteered more than 1,500 hours toward improving the economic health of what she called “this wonderful region.”
   The latest resignation comes within a week of the resignation of Mark Tilchen, a charter chamber board member and immediate past president. Tilchen cited increasing challenges in his job as director of the Sequoia Natural History Association as the primary reason for his departure from the SFCC board.
   At its regular board meeting held on Monday, March 9, the remaining eight board members named Linda Drouet as interim president of the chamber board. Drouet is the owner of Drouet Designs and with her husband Roger operates a Three Rivers firm that specializes in new construction and kitchen/bath remodels.
   Other interim officers are Arlin Talley, pastor of Community Presbyterian Church, vice president; and Leah Catherine Launey, owner of Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast, secretary. SFCC directors are Chris Schlossin (Sequoia Motel), Tony Moreno (Sierra Business Center), Diane Mason (Wuksachi Lodge), and Don Mosley (Donald W. Mosley, D.D.S.). Alex Picavet of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks is the parks’ liaison to the board.
   Don Mosley, the board’s newest member, said after Monday’s meeting that he was encouraged by the direction of the board. He said he expects the chamber to promote more events and to aggressively market some conventions to stimulate new business in Three Rivers, especially in the off-season when there are less park visitors.

Saving Blue Ridge is a group effort

By Brian Allison

  Blue Ridge Lookout is located in Tulare County and sits perched amongst pine, oak, and manzanita atop a Y-shaped ridge that drops 2,500 feet into surrounding canyons. Beautiful views of the San Joaquin Valley, Sequoia National Park, and the High Sierra are visible from its strategic location.
   The tower, jointly built by Cal Fire (formerly California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) and the U.S. Forest Service, was constructed in 1930, In 1931, a separate cabin was built at the base of the tower and is currently the oldest Cal Fire (CDF) lookout residence.
   According to cultural-resource specialist Mark Thornton, the station exhibits “exemplary craftsmanship” with little significant historical integrity loss over the years.
   Old-timer lookouts remember its dual use as an observation post for the California condor. Blue Ridge Lookout has been abandoned as a location for fire detection for over 20 years and is currently managed by the State of California.
   Although there are plans to relocate the lookout tower, the residence and garage are slated for demolition.

* * *

  Despite every sort of setback and obstacle imaginable, Nick Perricelli’s goal of rescuing Blue Ridge Lookout from demolition is close to becoming a reality. If all goes according to plan, the lookout will become a permanent fixture at the Tulare County Fairgrounds instead of ending up on a scrap metal boat bound for China.
   Perricelli, a captain with Cal Fire’s Tulare Unit, has over the years become a student of California firefighting history. When he learned that Blue Ridge was slated for demolition to make way for more communications towers, he thought it a shame that a piece of the legacy would disappear.
   Captain Isi Bran shared Perricelli’s sentiment, but that was as far as it went until one day in 2007 when Perricelli by chance met Cherish North, the lookout on Jordan Peak. When Perricelli told her of his desire to save Blue Ridge, “her eyes lit up,” and she told him of Kathy Ball and the Buck Rock Foundation.
   Perricelli, Bran, and Ball teamed up and together started a long, long journey through the labyrinths of bureaucracy.
Approval was needed from various departments within the State of California — fire management, real estate, cultural resources, etc. Environmental assessments were required.
   The seemingly simple matter of transferring ownership from the State of California to the Tulare County Fairgrounds turned out to be not simple at all.
   Then there was the meat-and-potatoes end of it: How to lower a four-ton building 60 feet to the ground in a tight space bristling with radio towers and transport it down narrow mountain roads to the Valley below.
   Being firefighters, Perricelli and Bran had a simple solution: a heavy-lift helicopter to pick it up and set it down nice and easy.
   Perricelli and a colonel of the California National Guard, Jeff Holiday, got together and formed a plan, but a couple of wars intruded and Col. Holiday’s aircraft were called away and deployed halfway around the world. There went that idea.
   The dream simmered but never turned cold, and in another chance meeting — this time at fire camp on the Hidden Fire in summer 2008 — Perricelli met Jeff Kurz, the owner-operator of Kurz Trucking and Crane, who signed on. This brought some new logistics into play.
   A couple of trees near the lookout would need to be removed. Being potential California condor habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had something to say about that.
   Then there was the actual uncoupling of the lookout cab from its stairs and the placement of the crane’s rigging. A perfect job, suggested Kathy Ball, for the Southern Sierra Climbing Association. Sure enough, Patrick Paul, founder of the SSCA, has now offered his assistance.
   In January, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s approval, the troublesome trees were removed by Cal Fire’s Mountain Home saw-team crew.
   With any luck, before the upcoming fire season begins, the cab of the Blue Ridge Lookout will be moved from its mountaintop and housed at Cal Fire headquarters in Visalia to undergo extensive restoration.
   Pending approval from Sacramento, the lookout will stand tall at the Tulare County Fairgrounds for generations to come.
   And if the area at the base of its stairs is called Perricelli Plaza, so much the better.
Brian Allison is the editor-at-large for the Buck Rock Foundation’s newsletter.


   The 2009 Orientation and Training Workshops are in the process of being scheduled.
   The two separate all-day sessions will teach all aspects of fire detection from map reading and daily log recording to using the Osborne Fire Finder and smoke reporting.
   No previous experience is necessary. To be alerted when the workshops will be held this spring, call 336-2366 or email buckrock@inreach.com.

Studio Tour 9 prepares

for 2010 artists’ event

   Early planning is underway for the biennial Three Rivers Artists' Studio Tour, which is scheduled for March 19, 20, and 21, 2010.
   Are you a creative person with a designated workspace who lives in Three Rivers? Have you thought of adding yourself as an artist on the Studio Tour, but are not sure how it could work for you?
   If so, you are invited to come to a planning meeting on Saturday, April 4, at 4 p.m., at the home of Studio Tour organizer Elsah Cort. Artists who have previously participated in the Studio Tour will also be attending this meeting and sharing their experiences.
   The meeting will include a potluck supper; bring a dish to share and a place setting.
   The Studio Tour is open to creative persons who work in all media. The only criteria are that the artist is a resident of Three Rivers with an individually designated place to practice their art form.

  “The Studio Tour has a reputation for showing the artist in their creative environment, demonstrating how art-making or creative endeavors can be integrated into our daily lives,” said Elsah. “It is a multi-dimensional way to expose people to creativity and inspire them to wake up their own creative instincts.”
   Started 17 years ago, and now preparing for its ninth incarnation, next year’s Studio Tour will be expanding to a three-day format. This will allow people to explore the studios leisurely over several days, talk with the artists and, hopefully, come for a long weekend visit to Three Rivers.
   Arts Visalia Gallery will also be hosting a Studio Tour artists' group show during January 2010 as a prelude of what will be coming for the Studio Tour itself.
   For more information, call 561-4671.

Arts Alliance plans spring workshop

   The Arts Alliance of Three Rivers has scheduled a day of art instruction that will feature artist Marjorie Brandon, formerly of Three Rivers. Marjorie has much expertise to share and many decades of artistic knowledge considering she is over 90 years of age and still going strong.
   Now she will teach her method for creating collage while giving workshop participants a choice between “careful planning” and “artistic abandon.”
   The Arts Alliance’s recent workshops — from stepping stones to living wreaths — have all sold out, so register early. The workshop will be held Saturday, April 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Cort Gallery in Three Rivers.
   The cost is $40 ($30 for Arts Alliance members). Information/registration: 561-4166.

National parks documentary

will air on PBS this fall

   The new Ken Burns documentary series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” will air on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in fall 2009. The 12-hour, six-part series is the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone.
   The documentary was filmed over the course of more than six years in some of nature’s most spectacular locales, from Acadia in Maine to Zion in Utah. The narrative by Peter Coyote traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid 1800s and follows its evolution for nearly 150 years.
   The visual aspect of the film will include archival photographs, interviews, first-person accounts, and, of course, stunning cinematography.
   There are 391 units in the National Park System (58 national parks, 333 national monuments, historic sites, and other units). The National Park Service has a presence in 49 of the 50 states (Delaware is the sole exception).
   A companion book will accompany the film.


— 2008 —
Great Smoky Mountains
Grand Canyon
Cuyahoga Valley
Rocky Mountain
Grand Teton

10 years ago in
The Kaweah Commonwealth

MARCH 5, 1999
  Two weekend accidents are alcohol-related— Two accidents occurred on Sierra Drive over the past weekend, both of which involved female drivers and both of whom were cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. Both drivers were taken into custody at the scene.
  Woodlake appoints recreation director— The City of Woodlake hired Ben Partin of Three Rivers to oversee organized sports and recreation in the city.
  TRUS hosts Foothill League tournament— Three Rivers, the only team in the league that is actually in the foothills, hosted a six-team boys’ basketball tournament. The TRUS Eagles came in third.
  Hiking the Parks: Hospital Rock to Panther Creek— A feature describing a winter foothills hike.

MARCH 12, 1999
  TRUS board agrees to partial Internet filtering— The controversial issue of Internet filtering deadlocked the Three Rivers School board of trustees at their February meeting. At the March meeting, Bob Burke, trustee, said, “This issue is tearing apart our town and our board and we just can’t be fractured by this.” Ultimately, the board appeased both the pro-filtering and non-filtering factions by unanimously passing the motion that one-half (15 computers) of the computers in the lab be filtered for those who choose to have filtered access.

Weekly tip

   March is National Nutrition Month. The Central Valley Health & Nutrition Collaborative, in conjunction with the American Dietetic Association, is encouraging local residents of all ages to eat right and get healthy. Eating right at any age is a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
   Throughout the month of March, local organizations in the Collaborative, including the Tulare County Office of Education, will be reminding Central California residents that eating right is important and easy. Below are a few simple steps everyone can take to eat better and live healthier:

  —Adopt a few specific small changes such as adding a piece of fruit daily to your diet.

  —Plan meals to prevent unhealthy, last-minute choices.

  —Select food that is nutrient rich — packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients.

  —Increase daily physical activity for overall health and fitness — 60 minutes for children and at least 30 minutes for adults.

  —Be aware of special needs. Nutritional needs can vary according to age and overall level of health. For example, older adults need more vitamin D and calcium to maintain bone health.
   The Central Valley Health & Nutrition Collaborative is comprised of more than 100 health and nutrition-related partner organizations and more than 250 individuals who are committed to the health of residents in Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Madera, Merced, and Mariposa counties. The Collaborative brings organizations together to address regional health concerns through policy, prevention, and intervention activities.
   For more information, visit www.cvhnc.org.


Ken Gardner
1937 ~ 2009

   Ken Gardner, a longtime resident and friend of Three Rivers, passed away Friday, March 6, 2009. He was 71.
   A memorial celebration and potluck is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, beginning at noon, at Lions Arena in Three Rivers.
   Ken was born in Martinez, Calif., in 1937 to Raymond Kenneth and Cherry May (Nana) Gardner. He was a loving husband, son, brother, father, uncle, grandfather, and friend who will be greatly missed.
   During his lifetime, Ken was a master mechanic, electrician, racecar driver, motorcycle racer, teacher, gemologist, jeweler, golfer, fisherman, backcountry packer in national parks, fire camp crewmember for CDF, cowboy, rockhound, storyteller, bartender, and a private in the Marine Corps Reserve.
   In 1956, Ken married his beloved Jackie Gentile-Gardner. He was the father of the following children:
   Son Ray Gardner, wife Naomi, and grandsons Grant, Levi and his wife Kim, and great-grandchildren, Saundy and Neva Jo Gilton.
   Daughter Anne Gardner-Mederios and her wife Joan, and grandchildren Joanne Ritter and husband Mike, and Steven Anderson.
   Son Frank Gardner.
   Daughter Sandy Machado and husband Tony, and grandchildren Shirley Machado and Tina Machado-Vasquez and wife Ronnie.
   Preceded in death by son Kenny Gardner.
   Son Travis Gardner and his partner Denise Diehm.
   Other family members include:
   Brother Don Gardner (deceased) and his wife Linda Gardner-Richardson, her husband Bob, and nieces and nephews.
   Brother Jerry Gardner, his wife Marilyn, niece Karen Gonzales and husband Marty and family, and niece Sheryl Karnest and husband Rick and family.
   Sister Patricia Ben-Ami and nephew Joe Ben-Ami and his wife Allison and family, and nephew David Ben-Ami.
   Sister Phyllis Udell, her husband Dan, and nephews Daniel Udell (deceased) and Doug Udell.
   Also, favorite sister-in-law Frances Down and her family; niece Nancy Aiguier and her family; niece Renee Aiguier (deceased); nephew Ernie Aiguier and family; niece Lynda Hester and family; nephew Kevin Aiguier (deceased) and family; nephew Harry Aiguier III (deceased); and niece Nila Aiguier and family.
   His extended family includes:
   Richard and Melissa Skeen and family; Jeff Lasswell; Randy Norris; Tyler and Teddi Johnson and family; Tod Johnson and family; Clint Johnson; Phil and Lora Gomes and family; Katrina Young and family; Linda DeLisio and family; Evan and Mary Sturdivant; Mike Watkins and family; Kay Packard; Cindy Skeen and family; Wendy McKellar and family; Kellie Lasswell and family; Larry Davis; Paul Sprague and Kim Bollens; Larry Davis and family; Antoinette Cloutier; and Scott and Dawn Merrell and family.
   A special acknowledgment to the guys at Three Rivers Golf Course and all of Ken’s dear friends.
   Ken was a lover of NASCAR and well-known for knowing “Who’s on the Pole.” Who’s on the Pole position now, Dad?

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