Kaweah Commonwealth - Three Rivers

News and Information of KAWEAH COUNTRY - Three Rivers,

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Lemon Cove and Woodlake

Visitor Information:
Three Rivers
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Real Estate
Local History
Travel Information
Weekly News and Features
Weekly Weather
Calendar of Events
Property Rentals
Columns/ Opinions
Readers Poll
Newspaper Archives

Live Web Cam of
Sequoia National Park,
the High Sierra,
and Three Rivers, California


Kaweah Kam

AddThis Feed Button



In the News - Friday, March 15, 2013




Delaware North is new Kings Canyon concessioner

  Last week, National Park Service officials announced that DNC Parks & Resorts, Inc., a subsidiary of the Buffalo, New York-based Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, has been awarded a 10-year concessions contract to operate overnight accommodations, food and beverage, and retail services in Kings Canyon National Park. Delaware North will assume operations in the Grant Grove and Cedar Grove areas effective November 1, 2013.
   Until that time, Kings Canyon Park Services will continue to operate the concession services. The newly awarded contract will allow DNC Parks & Resorts to consolidate the Kings Canyon services with its existing operations in Sequoia National Park.
   The parent company, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, has provided hospitality services for more than 70 years. In addition to Sequoia, the company currently operates concessions at a variety of NPS sites including Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon national parks.
  “We congratulate DNC Parks & Resorts on their Kings Canyon selection and look forward to partnering with them to provide memorable visitor experiences,” said Karen Taylor-Goodrich, whose last day as superintendent of Sequoia-Kings Canyon is today (Friday, March 15). “Concessioners fill a vital role in helping the NPS carry out its mission by operating publicly owned facilities and offering high-quality commercial visitor services.”

Taxpayer advocates file lawsuit against ‘fire fee’

  Howard Jarvis, the Orange County newspaperman and taxpayer advocate, died in 1986 but his legacy is alive and well. This week, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association formally served the State Board of Equalization, Cal Fire, and the Department of Justice with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s recently introduced Fire Prevention Fee.
   Jarvis gained national notoriety when he engineered the passing of Proposition 13 in 1978. Massachusetts adopted a similar measure emulating the California model.
   Former state senator George Runner, who presently occupies one of five seats on the State Board of Equalization, said he plans to join the lawsuit.
  “The wheels of justice grind slowly but I’m pleased that this vitally important lawsuit is moving forward,” Runner said in a press release earlier this week:
  “Recent revelations of the state’s misuse of fire fee dollars have strengthened the case that the ‘fire fee’ is really an illegal tax.”
   Runner, a Lancaster Republican who has been an outspoken critic of the fee, has advised recipients of the state bills to go ahead and pay because the mandate is currently the law.
   To date, most taxpayers have elected to pay the fee. More than 72 percent of the bills have been paid and six percent are making payments; the fee has generated more than $72 million.
   How the money is being used has been a source of contention. Originally earmarked for property inspections, the money is now planned to be melded into the state’s general fund for at least the first three years.
   The second round of more than 760,000 bills are currently being prepared for fiscal year 2012-13. It appears that Three Rivers residents and hundreds of thousands of their fellow Californians will be paying the so-called “unconstitutional tax” at least one more year.

FHCN offers social services to Three Rivers

  As the Affordable Care Act becomes more institutionalized, clinics that offer a team approach to patient care will become the norm for a large percentage of healthcare consumers. That means that instead of going to a specialist somewhere else, more of those resources will be available at a satellite or neighborhood health center.
   Family HealthCare Network is already a leader in providing that specialty care at its 11 locations in Tulare County and Hanford. Case in point is Meredith Casares, a social worker who sees Three Rivers patients every Tuesday.
  “In Visalia, I saw a need for my services in Three Rivers so I suggested that I start seeing patients here too,” said Meredith. “People in Three Rivers need mental health care too.”
   If that Casares name sounds familiar, it should, because Meredith’s father is Tony Casares, former assistant principal at Woodlake High School. Tony is now the principal at Bravo Lake High School in Woodlake and president of the Woodlake Kiwanis Club.
   Meredith graduated from Golden West High School in Visalia in 2003 and went on to Baylor University in Texas where she completed both her undergraduate work and earned a master’s degree in Social Work. She was thrilled to return home, be near her family, and be able to give back to the Tulare County community through her work.
   Meredith’s specialty is working with children with disabilities and their families. It includes a wide array of treatment dealing with everything from child abuse to helping families cope with grief, illness, unemployment, or any life-changing situation.
  “I think patients here are the same as in Visalia though people here are a little more removed from town,” Meredith said. “They want to make changes in their lifestyle but it just as difficult sometimes, even more so because of loneliness or depression.”
   Meredith describes herself as having a grandma’s heart and that helps her connect with people of all ages.
  “I’m the oldest 27-year-old you will ever meet,” she said. “I love to knit, cook, bake, and spend time with my family.”
   There are lots of medical issues Meredith can help with – substance abuse, teenage rebellion, cessation of smoking, diabetes, and life’s changes whether they be from the loss of a loved one or a serious auto accident.
“People have been very responsive, Meredith said. “And it’s a comfort for my patients just to know they have someone to talk to.”
   Meredith will become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in July so her status will change and she will no longer be working under a LCSW supervisor. Until that time, there is no charge for any FHCN sessions with Meredith.
  “When you do rural social work, especially in a small town, there is an important layer of confidentiality,” Meredith said. “At FHCN we treat our patients with the utmost respect and want you to live your life the best it can be.”

Western states brace for drought, wildfires

  In Three Rivers, rainfall totals are matching last season’s below-normal numbers. As of the storminess of March 9 and 10, Three Rivers has recorded 11.06 inches of rainfall; in 2012 on March 17 the total was 10.11 inches, but it rained two more inches by the end of March 2012.
   The next chance for appreciable precipitation for Kaweah Country is midweek but models are showing most of the moisture from that system will occur north of Tulare County. The higher elevations in the nearby mountains could receive snow showers.
   Although California has yet to be officially a part of the conversation, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada are already bracing for another summer of drought and wildfires.
Reservoir levels are down sharply in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada; down, but not as much, in California. And while last week’s blizzard in Colorado had skiers cheering, the snowpack is so paltry (73 percent of normal) that officials have already declared an “extreme drought” around the ski areas of Vail and Aspen.
   Farmers all across the region are already feeling the water shortage. The severe cuts in irrigation water have farmers fretting that they won’t be able to water their fields. If it gets much worse, some believe, the entire region could turn into another dust bowl.
   Time is running out for California, too, where only a miracle March would keep the Sierra Nevada region above 50 percent of normal on the benchmark April 1 date. The March 1 totals averaged about 66 percent after California experienced its driest January-February since 1920.
  “Near-record dry weather combined with pumping restrictions to protect the Delta smelt are making this a gloomy water supply year,” said Mark Cowin, Department of Water Resources (DWR) director.
  “The scenario is exactly why we need an alternative water conveyance system as proposed in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to both protect fish species and give California a reliable water supply,” he continued.

Three Rivers in the online spotlight

  There are so many types of media these days and as many ways to spread the news. And it seems like every one of them has made their way to Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park over the past several weeks.
   On Thursday, March 7, a three-person team from BBC Earth/BBC Broadcasting in England filmed a segment and completed time-lapse photography at Sequoia National Park. When complete, it will be aired on the company’s new YouTube channel, BBC Earth Unplugged, which has nearly 30,000 subscribers and 650,000 video views. The target audience is adults ages 18 to 34.
* * *
   In early February, David Rush, host of his own online travel show “The David Rush Travel Chronicles” made Three Rivers and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks a part of his “Fifth Journey.”
   Rush’s Facebook page heralded a handful of local businesses on his trip through Three Rivers, including We Three Bakery and Restaurant, The Gateway Restaurant and Lodge, Sequoia Outdoor Sports, and Sierra Surplus and Survival. Rush thanked the businesses for their hospitality, noting also Sierra Surplus’s generosity in gifting him an angle head flashlight and Sequoia Outdoor Sports for a hat and a heavy-duty water bottle.
   He also managed to secure sponsorship from those four businesses, in addition to Rich’s Auto Repair and Sequoia River Dance Bed and Breakfast.
   After his visit to Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Rush reported, “I got to see one of the other biggest trees in the world, General Grant in Grant Grove. These colossal trees took my breath away.”
   As with all of his journeys, Rush publishes videos of his experiences on his YouTube channel, “David Rush Travel Chronicles,” which has 144 subscribers and about 175,000 video views. The channel now includes 13 videos of Three Rivers and Sequoia sights and adventures.
* * *
   Three Rivers events will be promoted for one year on Big Blend’s online “Vacation Station Magazine,” courtesy of Comfort Inn and Suites-Sequoia and Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast, which purchased Big Blend’s basic promotional package for gateway communities.
   Vacation Station Magazine is one of 10 online magazines produced by Big Blend Magazines. This single magazine draws approximately 1.9 million visitors per month, most of which are from Southern California. The other nine online magazines under Big Blend umbrella have similar audience numbers.
   Big Blend’s audience was first introduced to Three Rivers during a call-in radio show that aired last fall on Vacation Station Magazine and included interviews with Leah Launey, who spoke about what drew her to Three Rivers; Bill Haxton, who discussed the annual Concert in the Grass and the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute; and Jeremy Cormier, who reported on behalf of local artists. Since then, Three Rivers artist Jana Botkin has been interviewed on Big Blend’s “Champagne Sundays Magazine.”
   Leah Launey was interviewed about the Hero Appreciation Months program for “Creative Celebrations Magazine.” In early February, artist Nadi Spencer was interviewed on Champagne Sundays.
   On Thursday, March 28, a Redbud Garden Club member, Seger Ramirez of Blue Moon Nursery, Janene Lasswell of Ja Nene Natural Body Products, and David Learned of Sierra Real Estate will be featured on a show for “Garden Gossip Magazine.”
   Sophie Britten will be interviewed Tuesday, April 9, about her book Pioneers in Paradise for Big Blend’s “Way Back When” history and heritage magazine.
  “Chasing Clean Air” creator Donna Barnett visited Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park from March 10 to 13. She interviewed several residents and business owners for a television feature that will be markets to Southern California PBS affiliates.

Woodlake honors its most productive citizens

By Holly Gallo

  The Kiwanis of Woodlake hosted the 51st annual Woodlake Awards Banquet on Friday, March 8. The banquet recognized local residents in 10 categories for their hard work and dedication to the betterment of the community. All proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the Woodlake Union High School Foundation’s Scholarship Fund.
   The disco-themed awards dinner was held at the Woodlake Memorial Building, where Kiwanis members and Woodlake High’s Key Club students served dinner for the award recipients, their friends, and families.
   While those in attendance gave resounding support to every award recipient, the emotional peak of the night occurred while Daniel Dudley, former teacher and coach at Woodlake High School, received a standing ovation as he walked to the stage flanked by his two sons, Kelly and Randy.
   The following Woodlake residents were acknowledged for their good works:
   Daniel V. Dudley - Commitment to Youth: Dan is the youngest of seven children, five of whom became full-time teachers and coaches. As one of those five, Dan was a star athlete in high school in Alhambra, Calif., and came to Woodlake in 1968 to coach and teach P.E., math, science, and reading. Dan is remembered for his unfaltering dedication to the youth of Woodlake.
   Johnny Varela - Man of the Year: Johnny is currently a member of the Woodlake Planning Commission and works for Woodlake Public Schools in food service and maintenance. He teaches tae kwon do, is involved with St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, and is a member of the Knights of Columbus.
   Linda Gonzalez - Woman of the Year: Linda volunteers her time to numerous projects like graffiti cleanup, the Toys for Joy drive, AYSO soccer, youth football, youth baseball, Predator basketball, School Site Council, and catechism classes. She served as the Woodlake Unified CSEA treasurer and has worked with a special student since 2000.
   Lino E. Moran - Lifetime Achievement Award: Lino has lived in Woodlake since he was 10 years old. He has served as president of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce and president of the Young at Heart Club. He was a board member of the Woodlake Veteran’s Memorial District and chief polling officer of the Election Board. Children might better know him as Santa Claus during Christmas. He currently serves on the Tulare County Grand Jury.
   Anita Villegas - Lifetime Achievement Award: Anita has lived in Woodlake since 1972. She works the local polls during election times and is involved at St. Francis Cabrini Church. She volunteers at the St. Mary’s Book Fair and Lady of Fatima Celebration in addition to helping with Woodlake High’s Sober Grad Night, the Woodlake Food Pantry, the Woodlake Explorers, Little League baseball, and Girl Scouts.
   Alberto Ponce - Youth of the Year: Alberto is the drum major for the WHS marching band and is actively involved in band council. He is also involved in Youth and Government, Roots and Shoots, Tiger Fusion, and Interact clubs.
   Leticia Garcia - Youth of the Year: At WHS, Leticia is involved in Key Club, MAYA, AVID, Tiger Fusion, Band Council, and Career Day. She also stays busy by volunteering on several ongoing community service projects.
   Jack and Brenda Persall - Spirit of Woodlake: Jack and Brenda are avid volunteers in the Woodlake community. Most notably, the couple began the annual “Thanksgiving Giving” event. For the past seven Thanksgivings, they have cooked for, served, and fed anyone who wishes to partake in a Thanksgiving meal that may otherwise not have one. In 2012, 345 people were provided with dinners. They also gave out 200 coats and 130 blankets to those in need.
   Robert Gonzales - Educator of the Year: Robert is an instructor at Castle Rock Middle School. He organizes Saturday School, which is open to any student willing to learn. He also oversees a summer school program that now includes a science lab. Robert also encourages a healthy lifestyle; students earn points by walking the school track during recess that they can later redeem for perks.
   Lauri Polly, Green Dragon Graphics - Business of the Year: The Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce honored Lauri Polly for her creative design skills and dedication to customer satisfaction. Among her projects is the “What’s Happening in the Foothills” magazine published by Woodlake Kiwanis.
   Father David Brown, Woodlake Food Pantry - Community Organization: Father David Brown came to Woodlake in 2004 to become the new priest at St. Clement of Alexandria Church and has been volunteering at the Woodlake Food Pantry since that time.
   Woodlake Donuts - Business Recycler of the Year: Sunset Waste Systems named Sam Hang Sip and Leakhena Chea the Recycler of the Year for their willing participation in the city’s food-composting program. The couple bought Woodlake Donuts in 2011, moving from Orange County.

Stolen WUSD iPads recovered

  Burglars and want-to-be burglars beware: if you steal high-tech devices with a GPS on board you will be caught. That’s what happened after Noe Lopez, 29, allegedly broke into the district offices of the Woodlake Unified School District sometime during the night of December 20.
   Woodlake police officers were dispatched to the scene and determined that the thief or thieves had entered through a door and removed two iPads and various computer components.
   After tracking a GPS signal from the iPads, police officers knocked on the door of a residence in the 100 block of North Cypress Street in Woodlake. The officers were given permission to search the residence where they found items matching the description of those stolen from the school offices.
   Lopez was arrested at the scene and charged with burglary and possession of stolen property. The iPads and computer components were returned to the rightful owners.

TRUS support groups set sights on playgrounds

By Holly Gallo

  As part of a campaign to renovate the play spaces on the Three Rivers Union School campus, the Eagle Booster Club has partnered with the TRUS Recreation Committee to complete a competitive application process for Playful City USA.
   The Playful City USA program recognizes communities that celebrate safe and engaging age-appropriate play for children, and awards $15,000 to $20,000 annual grants to these communities to fund play programs and equipment for children. It is a proponent of KaBOOM!, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization supporting children’s play.
   In order to strengthen TRUS’s grant application, the EBC and Recreation Committee are asking for members of the community to send letters of support to the school. The point of the letters should be to allow KaBOOM! to become better acquainted with Three Rivers and illustrate the community experience with children’s play activities as well as support for opportunities to improve play opportunities.
   Suggested themes for support letters include:
—Community-wide support of children’s health and fitness.
—A desire to have safe, fun, age-appropriate playgrounds for children.
—Pride in the community; volunteerism and school involvement.
—The community’s extensive volunteer recreation programs for basketball, tee-ball/baseball/softball, soccer, and kayaking; TRUS’s recess, lunch recess, and organized PE program for all students.
—High level of participation in interschool competitive sports.
—Family dedication to student participation in sports.
—Public access to the school’s play areas during non-school hours.
—History of support by community members and the EBC in supporting student programs.
   The EBC has also entered the school into a KaBOOM! video contest. The three-minute video features TRUS students and shows how the community would benefit from improved play space and equipment. The winner of the contest receives a $15,000 grant to improve play structures.
   The EBC is hosting a “red carpet screening” of the video at TRUS on Thursday, March 21, at 6 p.m. Dinner will be available for purchase: hotdogs ($3), pulled pork sandwiches ($5), and grilled veggie sandwiches (plus chips and a drink) will be served at the family event.

Students design TRUS T-shirts

  Three Rivers Union School students voted for their favorite artwork designed by their classmates to be chosen to adorn T-shirts to be sold by the Eagle Booster Club. Two designs were chosen, one representing the upper grades (4th through 8th grades) and one representing the lower grades (kindergarten through 3rd grades).
   T-shirt prices start at $12 each; order forms are available in the TRUS office through April 5.


Free series will teach bird identification

By Danielle Cessna

  Everywhere we go, birds are all around us. From city streets to the national parks, it’s not uncommon to hear the flutter of wings and the various calls of these feathered wonders.
   For many of us, a bird may be just a bird, but for those of us who have taken the time to identify these creatures, birding is an exciting and fascinating world of adventure and discovery.
   Have you ever thought about becoming a birder? Many have but don’t know where to begin.
   The great thing about birding is that you don’t have to be an expert to get involved. The only thing required is the desire to explore the natural world.
   Birding is a great activity for all ages. It is a wonderful excuse to get the entire family out into nature for fresh air and exercise. It can even be a rather addicting hobby.
   Sequoia National Park will host a series of four programs from mid-March to the beginning of April to help you learn how to identify birds. All four programs will start with a short talk, followed by hands-on birding in one of the most beautiful areas of the Sierra Nevada foothills.
   I will lead each program starting from the Potwisha Campground overflow parking lot, which is located four miles inside the park and across the highway from
Potwisha Campground.
   Each program will focus on one of four key skills necessary for successful birding, including size and shape, color patterns, behavior, and habitat. These programs will be held on the following Saturdays: March 16, 23, and 30, and April 6, from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.
   Dress for the weather, and bring a pencil and notepad. Binoculars and bird guides will be provided, but feel free to bring your own if you have them. Park programs are free and open to everyone.
   If you have any questions, call the Foothills Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park at 565-4212. Spring is in full swing in the foothills of Sequoia National Park, so come take advantage of the beautiful weather and find out what birding is all about!
   Dani Cessna is an interpretive ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. For dates and times of the upcoming birding programs, see the Kaweah Kalendar page on this website.


Colburn stars to play Three Rivers

By Bill Haxton

  Three Rivers enjoys an improbable yet solid relationship with one of the finest classical schools of music on earth. Many in the music world believe the Colburn School in Los Angeles has achieved equality with Juilliard (New York City) and has even surpassed Juilliard when it comes to strings — violin, viola and cello.
   If Colburn’s success in international competitions is any guide, or how many Colburn graduates go on to successful solo careers or find high placements in the world’s best symphony orchestras, then Colburn has indeed ascended all the way to the top.
   On Saturday, March 16, at 7 p.m., the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute will present the cream of this year’s crop of top performing Colburn students.
Violinist Blake Pouliot is without question one of his generation’s leading lights. He began violin at age three by playing entire songs he heard on the radio from memory and did it with perfect pitch. He has won numerous prizes on both violin and piano, and has soloed with the Toronto Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, and more.
   On viola, Arianna Smith was featured on National Public Radio’s “From the Top” and has performed with Itzhak Perlman, James Galway, and chamber music icon Arnold Steinhardt.
Benjamin Lash began cello studies at age six and by the time he was fourteen he was recognized throughout the Midwest as one of the most promising young cellists to come along in years. He, too, has been featured on NPR’s “From the Top” and has performed recitals across the U.S. and Europe.
   Pianist Nozomi Marusawa has a master’s degree in Collaborative Piano from Juilliard and is in high demand from soloists on a wide variety of instruments. She has been acclaimed for her poetic touch, her interpretive genius, and her ability to shape her tone and phrasing to needs of the moment.
   On clarinet, Emil Khudyev, who was born in Turkmenistan, possesses legitimate star power. He recently won the Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition adding this prestigious award to his previous wins at the Glenn Miller Competition, the Detroit Concerto Competition and the Yale Chamber Music Competition.
   The program for the concert is real winner, too — Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel, Enescu, Bach.
   Tickets are available at Chump’s DVDs in Three Rivers, online at www.threeriverspai.org and at the door.
   Children and students are always admitted free to the concert series. And in an effort to ensure that all children are provided with an opportunity to experience classical music, an adult accompanying a child is also admitted free, thanks to generous sponsorships from Sierra Subs & Salads and Jaclyn and Stan Johnson of Three Rivers.


Terry Magen Johnson
Born October 11, 1947
Died March 10, 2013
Age: 65
A private family service was held. Interment at Three Rivers Cemetery.

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 2003-2013 The Kaweah Commonwealth