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In the News - Friday, March 27, 2009

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Students and staff from World Class Kayak Academy,

an alternative high school based in Montana. The group

was in Three Rivers this week exploring the Kaweah River.



Academy ranks 3R as ‘World Class’

Student’s classroom is the world;
their playground is its waterways


   Sometimes, those of us who live, work, and play here lose sight of the fact that Three Rivers is truly one of the great places on the planet. This week, there are 13 exceptional high school students here to remind us all that we are indeed fortunate to be here… and for several days they will be here too — living, learning, kayaking, and sharing the Kaweah Country experience.
   The students in grades 10 through 12 hail from all over the U.S. (five from Montana, two from New York, two from Wyoming, and one each from Florida, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts) and are currently camped at the Three Rivers Hideaway with their teachers and coaches for an academic and athletic odyssey like no other.
   Part independent study, part outdoor classroom, and part extreme kayak team training, these 13 are the vanguard of a bold, new alternative education program called World Class Kayak Academy (WCKA). The school was founded in 2002 and is based in Missoula, Mont.

  “We’re headquartered in Montana,” said one instructor, “but we’re hardly ever there except for graduation and taking care of business between semesters prior to each new school year.”
The curriculum at WCKA incorporates international travel into a traditional liberal arts education. Students take all the college entrance exams.
   To date, more than a dozen graduates have gone on to success at major universities and there will be many more. Currently, the school is committed to 13 students per year and there are many more waitlisted that cannot currently be accommodated.
   Successful candidates must complete a rigorous application process and have a mandatory athletic recommendation from a coach or paddling instructor. If not an experienced kayaker when entering WCKA, the student must be willing to learn.
   The high school curriculum is supervised through Alberton High School in Alberton, Mont. The focus is on academics, but kayaking is the means for each student to find their own passion.
   Fueled by its paddling passion, the World Class team travels the globe in search of the best rivers, play spots, and competitions. The travel, study, and the athletics are proven character builders and foster life skills to succeed in whatever endeavor students may choose to do next.
   Before arriving in Three Rivers, the entourage had just returned from Spring Break after spending nearly three months in China exploring another “three rivers” – the Yangtze, Yunnan, and Mekong.
   All the students agreed that the chance to visit other countries was a big part of the academy’s draw. Each semester costs about $15,000 and is on a par with tuition at most private high schools.
   Scholarships are available but in general the kids come from families that are a cut above average relative to per-capita income.

  “Recently, I read an account written by bestselling author Amy Tan, where she said that in China, where rivers run… these places were the most outstanding,” said Jason Cohen, a sophomore from Hanover, N.H.
   It’s a bit of irony, Jason agreed, that they visited three of China’s rivers and the first stop on their West Coast tour is Three Rivers, Calif.

  “Three Rivers is like the places that Amy Tan described,” Jason said. “It has a river running through it and it is so green. It reminds me of New Zealand.”
   The students spent Wednesday like most other days. The morning was devoted to study and working with their 4:1 student-teacher ratio. By mid-afternoon, all students were running the rapids above and below Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park.
   Asked what they thought of the Kaweah River the chorus of replies was “awesome.”

  “It’s beautiful here, everyone seems so happy, and it’s not crowded,” said Sebastian Scholl, a junior from Miami, Fla. “I’m from back east so I’m not used to these wide-open spaces and unspoiled places.”
   After leaving Three Rivers, the caravan will visit the American, Yuba, and Trinity rivers in California and then explore the Oregon coast for some ocean experience. In mid-May, this semester’s educational adventure ends when the seniors graduate in Missoula.
   Among the electives is journalism and videography/photography so naturally there’s a blog spot. TKC readers are invited to follow the adventures of these extreme kayakers by logging onto: wckaeast2west.blogspot.com.

Lake Kaweah projected to fill

And if you can tell us when, you receive a prize!

   It’s official. Earlier this week, Phil Deffenbaugh, park manager at Lake Kaweah, confirmed that the latest projections are now showing that Lake Kaweah will fill with spring runoff and, at capacity, will be brimming with 186,000 acre feet.

  “We’re still not locked into when the lake will be full or for how long,” Deffenbaugh said. “What we do know is that we will be above the old fill level of 145,000 acre-feet for an extended period so we are going to have lots of beautiful water in the basin.”
   That’s great news after a precipitation season that was slow to get going but finally was jumpstarted by some significant storms last month.    Season rainfall totals and the current snowpack, though still slightly below normal, are looking much better after last Sunday’s cold storm dumped some significant snow on elevations above 4,000 feet.
   Most of that low snow is already gone but at 7,000 feet elevation, nearly five feet of firm snowpack is in place, and it’s not likely to be experiencing any major meltdowns soon.

  “It would be great if these spring-like temperatures would hold on for awhile longer,” Deffenbaugh said. “Currently, there are no significant runoff events in the immediate forecast and the really warm temperatures are not being predicted until late April.”
   When those warmer days do finally arrive, and temperatures begin to flirt with triple digits, the snowpack starts its rapid rush down the Kaweah drainage. With an approximate six to eight-hour lag time until the melting snow reaches Three Rivers, the loudest river and highest flows generally occur after midnight.
   Those peak flows, which daily approach 3,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) in the Middle Fork, generally occur in May and are a whitewater rafter’s dream come true.

  The contests: To commemorate the annual rolling thunder revue, Commonwealth readers are invited to submit their best guess as to when the Kaweah River and all its tributaries will provide peak mean inflow. River gauges stream inflow data continuously to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers computers, and the numbers can actually be calculated to the very hour when the annual river-watching ritual occurs.

  “I think it’s entirely possible that several folks might be able to come up with the right day, but to nail the peak at the precise hour, that’s really someone who is really paying attention,” Deffenbaugh said.
   HINT: In the past 15 seasons since the Commonwealth has been on the watch, the peak flow has usually occurred in May, but at least once in April and a couple of times in June.
   Dinner for two at a local restaurant (a $50 value) will be awarded for best guess on peak river flow. Another dinner for two will be provided to whoever provides the best guess when Lake Kaweah reaches its highest level and fills for the first time this season.
   Each entry must contain the month, day, and the hour and indicate whether it is for the peak Kaweah River flow or Lake Kaweah fill. One entry per each category per household may be submitted to The Kaweah Commonwealth via email, U.S. mail, via fax, or dropped off in person. Each entry must contain a valid name and address with a phone number to notify the winner.
   All entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17. Winners will be announced around June 1 subject to the whims of the weather and when the peak flow and fill occur.

Increase looming

for state sales tax

   Effective April 1, 2009, the state sales and use tax rate will increase one percent. The one-percent tax rate increase will expire on either July 1, 2011, or July 1, 2012, depending upon whether voters approve the proposed Budge Stabilization constitutional amendment (Proposition 1A) in a statewide election to be held May 19, 2009.
   On April 1, Tulare County’s sales and use tax rate will increase to 8.75%. In Visalia, the sales tax will be 9% due to a previous voter-approved local district tax increase.
   To view county sales tax rates and other state laws and regulations, go to the Travel Information page on this website.

River Rovers seek volunteers

   Drowning is the leading cause of death in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. But a new visitor education program is seeking to curb this statistic.
   As the rivers rise, volunteers are again being recruited for the River Rovers. This corps of dedicated people will roam the riverbanks to educate visitors about river hazards and encourage responsible use of park resources.
   River Rovers will be provided with training, uniforms, first-aid kids, two-way radios, and other necessary equipment. However, they are not trained rescue personnel and will not be involved in swift-water rescue or placed in situations that would compromise their personal safety.
   River Rovers candidates should have outdoor experience, good people skills, and be able to walk several miles on uneven terrain in high temperatures. Multilingual skills are especially helpful but not mandatory.
   For more information or to request an application, contact Tim Barrett, interpretive ranger, at Tim_Barrett@nps.gov or by calling 565-4212 or 565-4211.

Local groups prepare

to award scholarships

   Several organizations are requesting applications from high school seniors in order to provide some financial assistance to those planning on attending college.

Scholarships for all
Three Rivers seniors:

   ARTS ALLIANCE OF THREE RIVERS— For the past several years, the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers has awarded scholarships to students from local high schools who intend to continue their art studies. During the past year, the Arts Alliance has been hard at work raising funds to expand the Lorraine Young Memorial Scholarship program.
   The program is open to all Three Rivers students, whether at Woodlake High, homeschooled, graduating from other high schools outside the Woodlake High School District, or those who have completed some college and are continuing their education in the arts.
   The criteria for the scholarship are:

  —Student plans to attend college.

  —Student has an interest in art and plans to study art in college.

  —Three Rivers students will be given preference.

  —Student must show evidence of college enrollment to receive award check.
   In considering applications, the Arts Alliance uses a broad definition of the arts. In the past they have considered applicants who have an interest in graphic design, architecture, music, performing arts, and culinary arts, as well as drawing, painting, and ceramic arts.
   WHS seniors may obtain and submit an application through the school’s counseling department. All others may access the application online at: www.artsthreerivers.org or by calling 561-4417 (mail completed application to the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers, P.O. Box 981, Three Rivers, CA 93271). The due date for completed applications is Saturday, April 25.
   THREE RIVERS WOMAN’S CLUB— The local club is requesting letters of intent from Three Rivers seniors, no matter what school they attend. In the body of the letter, applicants should list financial need, the college they plan to attend, current grade-point average, and extracurricular activities.
   The letter should be mailed to: Three Rivers Woman’s Club, P.O. Box 504, Three Rivers, CA 93271. Letters of intent due by Saturday, April 4.

An opportunity for
community members:

   WOODLAKE HIGH SCHOOL FOUNDATION— The WHS Foundation is in the process of awarding scholarships to Class of 2009 graduates who are intending to further their education.
   The Foundation provides community groups and individuals a tax-deductible way to help local students. Contact the Foundation if you wish to set up a one-time, annual, or memorial scholarship.
   This year, it is critically important to provide financial assistance to students because of all the cuts in funding to colleges and universities.    The Foundation encourages anyone interested in helping students succeed to mail a contribution to: Woodlake High School Foundation, P.O. Box 475, Woodlake, CA 93286-0475.
   For more information, contact Sandy Owen, 561-4264, or Diana Pearcy, 798-2343.

Donations sought for

WHS Sober Grad party

   For more than 20 years, the graduating class from Woodlake High School and their parents have planned a celebration that takes place in an atmosphere free from alcohol and drugs. Plans are currently underway for the Class of 2009.
   This year’s WHS Sober Grad party will be held at the McDermont Field House in Lindsay on Saturday, June 6, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Students will be transported to and from Lindsay by bus.
   This facility offers plenty of attractions to keep the grads busy through the night, including the new Flowrider, which is a wave pool for surfing; skate park, climbing wall, zip line, sports courts, laser tag, arcade, and more.
   Currently cash donations and door prizes are needed. Donations may be mailed or delivered in person to Woodlake High School, Attn: Sober Grad 2009, 400 W. Whitney Ave., Woodlake, CA 93286 (make checks payable to: Woodlake High School).
   For more information, call Ana Carretero, 308-2342, or Sophia Cazares, 564-3307.

TRUS reunion planned

   John McKellar, a Three Rivers School alumnus who currently resides in Pomona, is organizing a 25-year reunion for the TRUS Class of 1984. All past alumni from the classes of 1982, ‘83, and ’85, as well as their families and TRUS staff are also invited.
   The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 1, from 4 to 10 p.m., on the TRUS campus. Those who plan to attend should RSVP by Wednesday, July 15.
   For more information or just to experience a flashback to 1984, go to www.myspace.com/trus1984. There are reunion specifics and updates, as well as yearbook photos, teacher interviews, and more.

HEALTHY LIVING
Weekly tip


   Last week’s tip advised us all to get more sleep and described the health benefits of doing so. This week, here are some sleep hygiene tips:
   Avoid non-sleep activities while in bed— Watching TV, eating, planning, and problem-solving while in bed are not conducive to sleep.
Minimize noise, light, and temperature extremes— For noise, earplugs. For light, window blinds. And keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature, which ideally should be between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove, unplug, or cover luminescent lights from clocks, televisions, and other electronic equipment as studies have shown that these disrupt the quality of sleep.
   Reduce fluid intake at night— Try not to drink fluids two to three hours before bedtime to reduce awakenings due to urination urges.
Use a nightlight— If you do need to get up at night, don’t expose yourself to bright light. Use a small flashlight or nightlights to guide the way.
   Nicotine— No matter how relaxing you think having a smoke may be, it is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream. If it can’t be avoided altogether, then don’t use it near bedtime or upon night awakenings.
   Caffeine— Another stimulant that is present in coffee, soda, cocoa and chocolate, tea, and various over-the-counter mediations. Caffeine should be discontinued at least four to six hours before bedtime.
   Alcohol— A depressant that may help you fall asleep, but it hinders sleep quality, causing awakenings, nightmares, and sweats.
   Eating— A heavy meal too close to bedtime interferes with sleep, as does a hungry, grumbling stomach. If you must eat before bed, have a light snack only. Stay away from protein and stick to carbohydrates or dairy products that have high amounts of the amino acid L-tryptophan (which has been show in research to help people go to sleep), such as yogurt, ice cream, a peanut butter sandwich, or milk and cookies or crackers.
   Exercise— A lack of physical exercise is a severe disruptor of sleep. An aerobic workout in the morning or afternoon aids sleep. Exercise too close to bedtime, however, actually increases wakefulness and makes it difficult to fall asleep.
   Pets— If your cat or dog sleeps in your bed, their movements may be disturbing your sleep. Also, the pet dander may cause breathing difficulties due to allergens.
   In addition to the above, other factors to consider include maintaining your mattress and pillow, proper diet and regular exercise, and stress control.
   As a rule, upon awakening from a good night’s sleep, you should feel refreshed, alert, and generally not feel sleepy during the day. If not, it may be time to pay a visit to a doctor or sleep specialist.
   The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice and treatment of a medical professional.


LOOKING BACK

10 years ago in The Kaweah Commonwealth


— MARCH 19, 1999 —
   TCAG approves rest stop, new bike lanes for Three Rivers— During their annual meeting on “unmet transit needs,” Tulare County officials announced their decision on how to divide up $3 million in transportation enhancement funds. Of the six countywide projects approved, two were in Three Rivers. One would be the next phase of the bike lanes from Three Rivers School to the rest stop. The other project would be a museum and rest stop on a 3.4-acre Sierra Drive site to be owned and operated by the Three Rivers Historical Society.
   Brakes on bike lanes due to weather— Caltrans halted work on the 1.2-mile stretch of new bike lanes because of weather forecasts predicting more rain than was actually received. “We’re hesitating to tear up the roadway and do the paving because we really need about two weeks of dry weather to complete the job,” said Frank Momen, project manager.
   Park management plan enters public meeting phase— Several public workshops were scheduled for April — including one in Three Rivers — to receive input to assist the Park Service in developing a range of alternatives to be included in the draft general management plan. The plan, fashioned to guide park planning over the next 20 years, had been in the works for two years.
   ALSO, the Three Rivers Lions Club presented an $1,100 check to FoodLink; the Kaweah Land Trust received a conservation easement for the 340-acre Double Eagle Ranch at the end of Dinely Drive; Jean Darsey’s “Garden Goodies” column celebrated the birth of spring; Three Rivers artist Nadi Spencer was putting the finishing touches on a mural for Kaweah Delta Hospital’s pediatric ward; Café Raven booked the Dave Philp Quintet — Dave Philp, Steve Harris, Mike Cook, Billy Nussbaum, and Kevin Yee; and Woodlake honored its Man and Woman of the Year — Jose Martinez and Barbara Hallmeyer.

 
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
editor@kaweahcommonwealth.com
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