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In the News - Friday, April 1, 2011

 

ONLY IN THE APRIL 1, 2011, PRINT EDITION:

SNOW JOB

An amazing gallery of photos that show

what it takes to keep the Generals Highway

in Sequoia National Park clear of snow

during a record snowfall season.

 

April snowpack is

165 percent statewide

  Preliminary estimates are in for the benchmark April 1 snow totals, and among the stations that have completed their surveys there are some impressive numbers. Statewide, up and down the Sierra Nevada, those numbers are expected to be at or near 165 percent of normal.
   Just the thought of all that water poised to come down California drainages prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare California’s most recent drought, declared by then-Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2009, has ended — at least for this year. His official statement came in a press release earlier this week.
   As of Thursday, March 31, only Giant Forest at 6,400 feet had been officially measured (March 25 survey) in the Kaweah drainage and it had 131 percent of its April 1 normal. That’s impressive for an area where in past years snow has been almost non-existent during April.
   At elevations above 7,000 feet, the news is even better. The Mineral King Valley (7,800 feet), as of March 31, is still reporting 120 inches on the ground.
The Kern River drainage has completed two surveys at stations above 9,000 feet. Both are reporting impressive numbers, including 177 percent at Big Whitney Meadow and 199 percent at Rock Creek.
   The latest April 1 statistics are expected to confirm that 2010-2011 is the biggest snowpack since 1998. That historic season recorded 185 percent of normal.
   Last season entered the record books at 119 percent of normal. That makes two consecutive years with above-average snow pack for the entire Sierra Nevada region. The Lodgepole-Wuksachi area has recorded a total of more than 422 inches of snowfall this season, which is believed to be a modern record.
   Bill Pooley’s rainfall gauge at Pumpkin Hollow has recorded more than 32.46 inches of rainfall since October 1. That’s an impressive statistic, especially in view of the fact that April often features additional rain events.
   All that water, and a commitment to its storage and conservation, is vital to restoring the California economy.

3R volunteer cares for past and present

  Gary Whitney will be this year’s honoree at Recognition Night, an event organized by the Three Rivers Lions Club to recognize community volunteers and their accomplishments. Like so many honorees, Gary wants to give back and pay it forward to the community where he has resided for most of his life.

Family roots run deep
   Gary has lived in Three Rivers for 45 years; all but his early childhood. He has had family ties in Three Rivers for a century.
   His great-grandfather Ben Miles, a builder in the first half of the 20th century, built many homes in Three Rivers, a number of which are still in use today. Ben’s daughter, Pauline (Miles) Whitney married Frederick Grunigen.
   Frederick’s father Armin was a member of the Kaweah Co-operative Colony that came here ca. 1890 to build a socialist utopian society. That venture having failed, the Grunigens decided they liked it here in Kaweah Country and stayed.
   Gary’s parents, Norman and Donna Whitney, began their lives together in the 1960s working as Job Corps volunteers in Lewiston, Idaho. Norman longed to return to Three Rivers so he moved the family back here in 1966.
   Gary’s mother later worked for the National Park Service in Sequoia National Park; Norman spent many years as a cook at the old Buckaroo Restaurant. Gary has an older brother Aaron who lives in Tulare and is a receiving manager for large grocery chain.

The road (back) to Three Rivers
  After graduating from Three Rivers School (1974) and Woodlake High School (1978), Gary pursued a career in forestry. He earned an A.S. degree in Forestry at Reedley College and for several years worked seasonally in Sequoia National Park, a couple of national forests, and for a lumber company.
  “For me, there just wasn’t much in the way of any jobs that paid all that well so I ended up working with Britten Construction in Three Rivers,” Gary recalled.
   Obviously, this is a decision he has never regretted because 30 years later Gary is still at Britten Construction where, since 1987, he has been the foreman.

Selfless service
   It was while working at Britten Construction that Gary developed his interest in caring for the Three Rivers Cemetery. It is his outstanding service at this venue that was the impetus for his being chosen by the local Lions Club as the 2011 honoree at Recognition Night.
   For more years than anyone can recall, Britten Construction has been obligated to the local Three Rivers Cemetery to dig graves as they were needed. Gary said until the mid-1970s all the graves were dug by hand tools.
   Today, of course, a backhoe is used and Gary has done much of that excavation work himself or supervised those who did.
   Four years ago, Gary turned more of his own time and attention to the venerable old cemetery, devoting his efforts to some much needed projects.
  “The records were well kept over the years but many of the graves never had proper markers,” Gary said.
   What really bothered Gary, he said, was that dozens of individuals had been buried and seemingly their stories had been lost along with any local recollections.
  “It was as if nobody ever knew these folks even existed,” Gary said.
   So Gary went to work to right that wrong. He meticulously researched the cemetery records, verified and mapped the locations of each burial, and then tracked down family members whenever possible.
   One by one, he determined which graves had a marker and the ones that didn’t and, just as important, which stories he could help preserve in local history.
   Soon he had identified more than 50 graves that were in jeopardy of being lost. In the last several years, Gary has raised the funds (at more than $50 apiece for the bronze plaque) and installed 38 new markers.
   The new markers, all set in concrete, are for Gary only the beginning. He has organized and led several community work days to further maintain the cemetery property, planted oak trees and poppies, installed an array of commemorative plaques and, with his role as a trustee on Three Rivers Cemetery board of directors, almost single-handedly restored to prominence one of the most important sites in any community -— its cemetery.
   Along the way, Gary has also restored a great deal to the history of Three Rivers and its people, documenting both the sensational stories and those more typical working folks who have, each in their own way, contributed to make life in Three Rivers what it is today. In addition to Gary’s passion for history, he also is a worship leader at First Baptist Church, worked four years on the Three Rivers Community Plan, and coached numerous kids’ teams in youth sports.
   As a father he has raised several good kids and said he couldn’t be prouder of his family roots and the fact that he considers himself to be a good Three Rivers neighbor.

Still the Lions’ Best All Around
   Thirty years ago, as an eighth grader at Three Rivers School, Gary received an award from the Three Rivers Lions for “Best All-Around Boy.”
   Now it’s time for yet another award from the local Lions. Please join the Three Rivers Lions Club for Recognition Night when they honor Gary Whitney for his unselfish devotion to his hometown.

LIVE!
News of the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute

The rising stars of Colburn

By Bill Haxton

  Eugene Ysaÿe is not a household name, but he should be. In the very small pantheon of elite violinists, he stands alongside Jascha Heifetz as one of the best violinists ever. He’s easily overlooked today because he died in 1931. There are very few recordings of him performing.
He could just as easily have been a bricklayer. He was a large man, built like a wine barrel, and he had enormous hands that more often than not are a major liability for a violinist.
   One recording that has survived is his rendering of the 3rd movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Opus 64. It’s about as nimble and sprightly as you’ll ever hear it, Heifetz included.
   He composed, too. One of his compositions — Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, “Ballade” — is a majestic piece of music with enormous over-arching passages that demand the utmost in technical skill and a bottomless depth of emotional expression from the violinist. It’s a wonderful 20th century composition, and within it are a couple of obvious references to Bach’s Chaconne from 300 years earlier.
   The next concert in the Live! in the Mountains winter chamber music series (Saturday, April 2) opens with this piece by Ysaÿe, performed by the remarkable Evin Blomberg, the youngest prodigy ever accepted into the collegiate program at the Colburn Conservatory.
   Evin will not be coming alone. Four equally talented Colburn musicians are also coming.    Together, they will give us a glimpse of what the top of the music world will look like for the next couple of decades.

Francesca dePasquale, violin
Winner of the prestigious and highly competitive 2010 Irving M. Klein Strings Competition, Francesca, 21, is also concertmaster of the Colburn Orchestra and has performed with giants in the music world such as Arnold Steinhardt, Ron Leonard and Paul Coletti. Her style has been described as “...pure, intense, full of flair and grace.” Francesca utterly conquers Maurice Ravel’s virtuosic showpiece “Tzigane.”

Born Lau, viola
Praised for his musical imagination and unflagging passion, Born, 21, has won top prizes in numerous national and international competitions. He has already performed with the world famous Tokyo String Quartet. A well-known reviewer wrote of Born, “Stylish and expressive, already master of his instrument, simply magnificent in all regards.” Born will present Bruch’s spellbinding “Romanze.”

Allan Steele, cello
Allan, 17, has placed first in several competitions, including the Confucius Competition, the Society of American Musicians, St. Paul String Quartet Competition, and Fischoff Competition. He has soloed with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. The cello truly sings in his capable hands.

Evin Blomberg, violin
Evin, 17, has been playing violin since she was two and is currently the youngest violinist ever accepted into the collegiate level studio of violin master teacher Robert Lipsett. In 2008 Evin won the Menuhin-Dowling Young Artists Competition in her category. Her technical precision, her fluidity and her energy are hypnotizing.

Sang-yoon Kim, clarinet
One of the finest young clarinetists anywhere, Sang-yoon, 23, has won more prizes and competitions than we can begin to mention. He’s performed with orchestras in France, Spain, South Korea and Italy and is currently studying with the legendary Yehuda Gilad at the Colburn Conservatory. His velvet tonality and liquid phrasing are something to behold.
* * *
   The concert closes with all five prodigies together on stage, performing the famous opening movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A, one of the warmest and most recognizable of all chamber music compositions.

SPEAKING OUT

Green homes wanted for fall tour

By Mona Fox Selph

  After a watery winter break, the TREW CREW is back at work doing what we can for our community and our planet. We have chosen a topic for the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend on the first weekend in October (the free Greenfaire on Saturday), which is “Air Quality in our Area.”
   While the Greenfaire deals mainly with educational information, the inspirational Green Home Tour on Sunday is a fundraising event. The past four tours have raised money for Habitat for Humanity, Tulare County Citizens for Responsible Growth, and the Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club.
   We have one confirmed homeowner for the tour and are presently looking for four more homes whose owners would be gracious enough to welcome visitors on Sunday, October 2.  We are part of the American Solar Energy Society’s annual tour, the largest grassroots event of its kind.
   In order to qualify, the home must have active or passive solar features. Our tour homes also have featured many other inspiring green ideas, including imaginative and beautiful use of recycled materials and objects.
   Over the past four years, the list of generous homeowners has included: Pete and Audrey Crandall, Dan Brummitt and Edie Schroeder, Robert Ruehling and Ginger Curtis, Bill and Anne Haxton, Ken Elias and Sarah Shena, and Hilary Dustin and Kay Woods. Visalia’s straw bale police station, David and Klara East, John and Daryn Davis, Heather Howard, and John and Chris Sundstrom, Steve and Barbara Lahmann, Bill Becker, Rick Badgley and Martha Widmann, Tom and Lisa McGinnis, Bill and Anne Haxton, George and Marie Powell, Don and Teriz Mosley, Terry and Barbara James, and Cathy Opie and Julie Burleigh.
   If you wish to inquire about adding your home to the list, offer ideas, or come to our next meeting, call me at 561-4676.
   Mona Fox Selph is an organizer of the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend.

 
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
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