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In the News - Friday, MARCH 30, 2007

Snowpack remains

below average

  In a changing climate, it’s difficult to say what’s average or even normal. But based on totals for the past 50 years, the April 1 Sierra snow projections are coming in below average. The water content in the snowpack along the 400-mile mountain range averages 46 percent of normal.
   That dismal total, the fourth survey of the season, is the benchmark because state Department of Water Resources officials use these stats to determine how much of the precious water will be delivered for summer supplies to cities and farms. The 46-percent figure represents the lowest content since 1990, when it was 40 percent of normal.
   Melting snow cascading from the Sierra provides more than a third of California’s drinking and irrigation water supplying the canals of the State Water Project. The project, which pumps water up and over the Grapevine to Southern California, furnishes water to 23 million people and 775,000 acres of farmland.
   The recent storm that passed through Kaweah Country in the 24 hours ending Tuesday added another .51 of rainfall to local gauges at the 1,000-foot elevation level. That brings the season total to 10 inches.
   Forecasters are calling for better than average odds that Three Rivers will receive more rainfall after March 30, but in several seasons, and as recently as 1996-97, it didn’t rain a drop in April, May or June. The lowest local rainfall total in the past 50 years was 8.56 inches for the 1976-77 season.
   Nearby mountains received nearly a foot of new snow from the recent storm at elevations above 7,000 feet. The warmer temperatures in the weekend forecast, however, should be enough to melt the remaining snow in those areas except on north-facing slopes and in shady places.

Assemblyman Maze

to address town meeting

   The series of recent Town Hall meetings, which are indispensable for keeping locals up to speed on an array of developments, returns to the Three Rivers Memorial Building on Monday, April 2, at 7 p.m. Sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation, at the top of the busy agenda is a visit with state Assemblyman Bill Maze.
   Assemblyman Maze, who last spoke at a local Town Hall meeting in 2006, is no stranger to Three Rivers or his constituents of the foothills and mountains of the 34th District. Maze, a Republican, who grew up on a ranch outside of Exeter and now divides his time between Sacramento and his home in Visalia, admits his heart is in Three Rivers and the mountain communities of Silver City and Mineral King.
   Long before Maze ever had an inkling of running for public office, he and his sons were providing a valuable service to cabin owners in the local mountains. Seasonally since the 1970s, Maze or one or two of his sons, have returned to the nearby mountains and assisted with cabin restorations and remodeling that have made it possible for a multitude of folks to continue the tradition of enjoying their cabins each summer.

  “I’ve had a great time helping the good folks in Silver City and Mineral King,” Maze recalled recently. “Being able to spend some quality time in these mountains was reward enough for this farm boy and his family.”
   Maze, a Tulare County native, knows the issues intimately that affect farmers, the families that live in towns, Kaweah Country, and the mountain communities both here and on the east side. He has spent the last five years learning the ways of Sacramento and how best to promote the interests of this diverse district.
   In the 1980s, owing to his work with a coalition of Tulare County civic and business leaders, Maze and his Tulare County boosters came within an eyelash of landing a full-fledged University of California campus.
   That prize eventually went to Merced and led to the creation of UC Merced. Undaunted, Maze has continued his efforts to establish accredited four-year college programs in Tulare County. He recently secured the funding to add a four-year nursing program at Porterville College.
   At Monday’s meeting, Assemblyman Maze will update Three Rivers on a number topics including the implications of the scenic highway status for Highway 198 and the recent hike in fees for the state Department of Fish and Game. Questions relative to any state agency or issue are welcome.
   Also on the program will be David Spengeman, an area director with AT&T. He will speak on some topics relative to the area’s wireless communications.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida will be in attendance to answer questions about county business. Supervisor Ishida said he has some interesting news about plans to build a new dam at Temperance Flat and how increased water storage could affect Tulare County agribusiness.
   For more information about the upcoming meeting, call Tom Sparks, 561-0406.

Sequoia welcomes

new Chief of Interpretation

   When Colleen Bathe, the new Chief of Interpretation for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, arrived in Three Rivers last week she hit the ground running. She’s already bought a house, done some hiking, and attended lots of meetings while getting to know her co-workers and new digs.
   Prior to coming to her new office at park headquarters at Ash Mountain she spent the last three years at Bryce Canyon National Park as Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Partnerships. There, and at her former job in Death Valley, she experienced plenty that prepared her for this latest promotion to what she describes as her “dream job.”
   For a California kid growing up in Ceres along Highway 99 and in the shadow of the central Sierra Nevada, it didn’t take long to realize that a career as park ranger was what she should do as her life’s work.

  “When I was young, my outdoor experiences were boat camping in a national forest at one lake or another with my dad who really loved to water ski,” Colleen recalled. “It was with the Girl Scouts that I first experienced the national parks.”
   A defining moment, she said, was during a Girl Scout outing to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

  “We were at a campfire during a junior ranger program with your typical interpretative ranger,” Colleen said. “I was in the eighth grade and decided right then and there that someday I wanted to have a job doing what that ranger was doing.”
   After high school graduation, she gravitated toward a two-year recreation studies degree at Modesto Junior College. Then it was on to Cal State Chico where she completed an internship at Alcatraz and a B.A. degree in Recreation and Parks Management.
   After graduating from Chico in 1984 she worked as a seasonal for Inyo National Forest at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and began her self-described love affair with the Sierra Nevada’s east side. In 1985, she embarked upon the rest of her career, taking a position with the NPS and soon landing at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Park.
   It was there she met her husband, Dan, whom she describes as very comfortable living in the beautiful isolation of the desert. For the next two decades she worked diligently to revitalize the interpretive program at Scotty’s Castle that in the beginning of her tenure was really lagging in visitor interest.
   One of her biggest challenges at Death Valley was finding ways to boost employee morale among a staff that was living in the middle of somewhere that was 140 miles from the nearest town.

  “Colleen is really an amazing community people person,” said Alexandra Picavet, who is the public information officer at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, but also worked with the new division chief at Death Valley. “She is an innovative person with strong personal contacts and will make good use of the resources from all the area parks.”
   Picavet also said that Colleen has a very strong training background and is especially adept at working with partners. She has coordinated programs for students seeking federal jobs and helped Utah workers in customer service to become a “super host.”
   In addition to gearing up for the rapidly approaching summer season, Colleen will be implementing an ambitious “Ranger in the Classroom” program that seeks to educate a new generation of park users.

  “Initially, we’ll focus on schools in the Highway 198 corridor then branch out to more of Tulare and Fresno counties,” Colleen said. “It’s a great program that encourages these kids to visit and experience the national parks.”
   The next fiscal year should prove interesting as the new budget seeks to add 13 interpretive positions to the local parks.

  “At Sequoia, we’ll be maintaining all the traditional campfire programs but you will see some new tools like PowerPoint presentations,” Colleen said. “What we are working toward are more hands-on activities and providing the visitor with a more interactive experience.”

Lake Kaweah guardrails installed

   GUARDRAILS WERE recently installed by Caltrans on Highway 198 around Lake Kaweah at the no. 2 boat ramp. The effort to make the highway safer was prompted by a fatality that occurred last summer when a motorcycle struck a vehicle that was exiting the boat ramp parking lot.


3R artists on exhibit in Visalia

  “That Extra Dimension,” an exhibit of work by more than 30 artists will be featured at the Arts Visalia Gallery from April 3 to April 27. The show will include sculptures of ceramic, wood, glass, metal, and other materials, as well as “light sculptures” and gourd art.
   One of the artists whose work will be featured in the show is Three Rivers wood-turner Armin Pfadisch. Armin will be showing a bowl with an image of a bird on the surface.
   Born and trained as a chef in Germany, Armin formerly expressed his talent through ice carvings, chocolate and mayonnaise painting, and tallow moldings, in addition to preparing and exhibiting fine culinary dishes. Now retired, he is still creating, and each branch, stump, or burl presents him with a challenge.

  “Pictoman,” a mixed media piece of glass and copper by Moni Mauch will also be featured. Moni is a Visalia artist who has been active in promoting local arts and bringing artists to classrooms throughout Tulare County. She is a board member of the Arts Council of Tulare County and chair of the Fine Arts Department of the Tulare County Fair.
   Other artists in the show include Mark Ahlstrand, Richard Arenas, Toni Best, Mary Camin, Verne Chapman, Carole Clum, Tony Cuellar, Valerie Deveraux, Paul Dutton, Craig Easter, Mark Eaton, Anne Haxton, Jerry Jonnum, Nancy Jonnum, Sam McKinney, Michael Murphy, Joe Nunez, Mike Perez, Marn Reich, Chris Sorensen, John Sundstrom, Sherley Tucker, Mark Tunison, Chris VanGoethem, Linda Victory, and students from College of the Sequoias.
   A reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 6, at Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave. (across from The Depot restaurant).

WHS Foundation seeks

original, signed publications

   Each year during Woodlake’s Western Week, the Woodlake High School Foundation holds its annual fundraising dinner. The money raised at this event is used to provide scholarships to graduating seniors as well as benefit other programs and activities at the high school.
   As always, the Foundation is seeking donations that will be won by the high bidders in the silent auction. The Foundation will gratefully accept art, handcrafts, products, services, and books and other publications.
   A special attraction during this year’s silent auction will be the signed published works by local authors and poets. Any writer who would like to autograph and donate a piece may call Nicole Glentzer, WHS assistant principal, 564-3307, ext. 113.
   This year’s dinner and silent auction is scheduled for Friday, May 11. Tickets may be purchased at the WHS office or from any Foundation board member.

Farming terminology

of the 21st century

   Locavores, slow food, CSA, sustainable agriculture, organic, pesticide-free, biodynamic…
   All of the above terms relate to the trend today among an ever-increasing number of people who want to know where their food comes from, who grew it and how, and that local is best. Many, of course, continue buying whatever they want from sources that vary from the guy or gal standing on the corner of the road to the neighborhood grocery.
   Family Farm Fresh is a local “CSA” (consumer-supported agriculture), making delivery to more than 200 members in Tulare County including a large number of Three Rivers members.
The member of longest standing in Three Rivers is Ginger Curtis on Dinely Drive. She’s one busy lady, involved in school and community activities.
   Kris and Craig Axtell (Sequoia-Kings Canyon superintendent) on Cherokee Oaks Drive have been members since April 2006. There are a large group of members who work for Sequoia National Park.
   Another member for a year who also lives in Cherokee Oaks is Susan Lamberson, owner of Yoga of the Sequoias.
The CSA movement started in Japan and rapidly moved to Europe. Eventually, folks along the East Coast introduced the CSA concept to America.
   There are a number of types of CSAs, however, in each case the basis is the same. People become members and one or more local, small, family farmers supply what they grow to members on a weekly basis during the growing season.
   Family Farm Fresh, however, is blessed by location, which enables the delivery of fruit, vegetables, eggs, olive oil, honey, bread, and other products on a year-around basis. Some CSAs rely on members picking up boxes at central points. Family Farm Fresh personally delivers to homes and offices on a weekly basis.

  “Locavores” started as a group in the Bay Area that would eat only food grown within 100 miles, and they have challenged others to do the same.

  “Slow Food” is an international organization with its beginnings in Italy. Again, its thrust is to encourage people to slow down and enjoy eating local food.

  “Sustainable,” “organic,” “pesticide-free,” and “bio-dynamic” are each a type of farming practiced by an increasing number of farmers for the purpose of producing more wholesome, natural food. Organic is defined and controlled under national law. Pesticide free is what it says and growers for farmers markets are pesticide free. Family Farm Fresh farmers are all pesticide-free plus some are certified organic.
   This article contributed by Bob McKellar, an Ivanhoe rancher and the founder of Family Farm Fresh. For more information, visit: www.familyfarmfresh.com.

Advenutres of the

‘Sisters on the Fly’

   It’s known as “Sisters on the Fly” and has been featured on the Travel Channel. This fast-growing gathering of women now numbers 704.
   The members are married, widowed, or single, but all enjoy having fun and have the common interests of flyfishing and rescuing vintage trailers.
   Two Three Rivers women, Martha Bubel, #471, and me — her sidekick friend, Mary Kimmel, #633 — rolled out of town Friday, March 9, for 10 days full of cowgirl adventure, pulling our spectacularly painted and decorated vintage trailer destined for the Arizona Giddy-up.
   The California “Sisters,” from northern to southern, pulled 18 gaily decorated trailers to meet at a campground in Indio. After several hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic, we were ready to relax with lemon drop martinis, lots of laughter, and a good night’s sleep.
   The next day, we caravanned into Phoenix. Boy, our caravan was a hit on Interstate 10!
   People interrupted our constant chatter on walkie-talkies to ask questions, leaning out windows, waving and honking. Martha and I led the caravan through the huge maze of Phoenix to Usury Park in Mesa, Ariz.
   The gathering of 101 women and 78 vintage trailers from 19 states was a sight to behold. No two trailers looked alike and were lettered with themes such as “God Bless Cowgirls” and decorated with horses, western boots, or flyfishing themes, plus their Sister number.
   The real adventure began with a “Cowgirl Bling” cocktail party at the fabulous home of Sister #1, which has been featured in Country Living magazine. The next morning, it was off to “Cowgirl U” at the famous Cowboy U ranch that has been featured on television as well as in newspaper articles.
   There were hunky cowboys to teach us to rope, plus we had contests in roping, riding, saddling, and a fun race that included huge clothes and stick horses. I overheard one cowboy say, “Boy, I thought it was hard to teach men to rope, but these gals really take the prize.”
   Each night at Usury, we were treated to wine, beer, and scrumptious catered trail food, always followed by unique entertainment. We’d fall into our bunks at night, exhausted and satisfied from the days’ exciting activities as the mournful howl of coyotes lulled us to sleep.
   On Wednesday, March 14, the caravans left in groups of 10, destined for Tombstone, Ariz., where we took over an RV campground for the next three nights. We explored and shopped in Bisbee and Tombstone and were treated to nightly chuck wagon dinners and entertainment including Cowboy Doug, a real life cowboy poet who not only entertained us with his adventures but also taught us to tell time at night by the Big Dipper.
   It took us two days of freeway travel to return home to Three Rivers. Wow, how did the weeds grow so tall?
   The familiar arms of the trees, mountains, and river surrounded us in our secure wonderful world as we dream of more adventures with out Sisters, including the Navajo life in Monument Valley that visitors never see.
   This article contributed by Mary Kimmel of Three Rivers.

OBITUARIES

Clarence Searcey
1913 ~ 2007

   Clarence E. Searcey of Three Rivers died Friday, March 16, 2007, in a Fresno hospital. He was 93.
   Clarence died due to the injuries he received when he fell down a 50-foot embankment into the river. The incident occurred Sunday, March 11, at the South Fork home he shared with his son, Lee.
   Clarence was born Dec. 9, 1913, in Exeter. He was raised in Exeter by his mother and stepfather, Elizabeth and Frank Shaw.
From 1935 to 1976, Clarence owned and operated two Visalia restaurants: Searcey’s Bar & Restaurant on Houston Avenue at Ben Maddox and Shaw’s on Court Street.
   Clarence served with the U.S. Army’s 43rd Infantry during World War II, where he was stationed in Japan and the Philippines.
Clarence, a resident of Three Rivers for nearly 60 years, built his Three Rivers home in 1948.
   Clarence is survived by his sons, Lee Searcey of Three Rivers and Robert Hanggi of Springville; daughter Zoe Searcey Bull of Three Rivers; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.

Andy Lee
1927 ~ 2007

   Andrew L. Lee Jr., a 45-year resident of Three Rivers, died Sunday, March 25, 2007, in Tulare. He was 79.
   Andy was born Aug. 14, 1927, in Santa Monica. In 1948, he married the former Joyce Fisher in Taft. The couple moved to Three Rivers in 1961.
   Joyce preceded her husband of 58 years in death by three weeks. She died Sunday, March 4, 2007, at the couple’s Three Rivers home at the age of 78.
   A memorial service for Andy and Joyce will be held Sunday, April 1, 2 p.m., at St. Anthony Retreat.
   In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Comfort for Kids, P.O. Box 116, Kaweah, CA 93237.

MILITARY DEATHS
   The following are California residents killed in Iraq as announced by the governor’s office this week:
   U.S. Army Sergeant John E. Allen, 25, of Palmdale died Saturday March 17, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Darrell R. Griffin Jr., 36, of Alhambra died Wednesday, March 21, as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with small arms fire during combat operations in Balad, Iraq, north of Baghdad.
—Total U.S. deaths—
Iraq area: 3,229
(as of Friday, March 23)
Afghanistan area: 309
(as of Saturday, March 17)
—Monday, March 19, 2007, marked the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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