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In the News - Friday, April 4, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Only in the April 4, 2008,

print edition:


featuring the

Artists of Studio Tour 8


Lions to honor local volunteer

Thursday, April 10, 5-10 pm
Lions Arena
Dinner, live music, and
awards ceremony

Hosted by
Three Rivers Lions Club

   If you’re a local senior citizen, belong to any service organization, attend the Catholic church, volunteer in Three Rivers, or are a High Sierra Jazz Band fan, chances are you know Estelle Christensen. In the more than a decade of honoring outstanding community service at Lions Recognition Night there’s never been another one quite like Estelle.

  “When I was told I was being honored this year I couldn‘t believe it,” Estelle said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I think it was me. I’m truly honored.”
   How could Estelle ever give much thought to being honored for all that she does? She’s too busy most days to take time to think about anything but her next task, such as being president of the Woman’s Club (she just signed on for another year) or secretary of the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club (for more than a decade now) or a permanent member (and past president) of St. Clair’s Altar Society or helping out almost daily in the kitchen at St. Anthony Retreat or serving hot lunches to seniors or planning the next outing of the local Travel Club.
   It’s truly amazing all she does and how she has so much fun doing it. Estelle credits her good upbringing in the Inglewood-Hawthorne area of Southern California and, specifically, her parents who instilled in her some great values.

  “We had an open-door policy in our home,” recalled Estelle. “My parents always taught me that in terms of love and friendship, you get back equal to what you give.”
   When husband Lou and Estelle finally retired (in 1992 and 1993, respectively) their dream of moving permanently to Three Rivers was realized.  Originally, they had to put off retirement a few years (he from Northrop, she from bookkeeping for a tile company) even though they had purchased their Three Rivers place in 1979, formerly the home of Gene and Marion Gray.

  “I had a bout with breast cancer in 1985,” Estelle recalled, “so to keep my insurance I had to continue working in my one-gal office a little longer than I planned.”
   But in the meantime, the couple spent as much time as possible enjoying their Three Rivers home with its “killer view” of Alta Peak and the Kaweah canyon. Gene Gray, a founding father of Valley Oak Credit Union, who was also an accomplished photographer, designed and built the home to capture the essence of Three Rivers and its unique place in the mountains.

  “The home was built about 1940, and we never did much to change the original construction,” Estelle said. “Gene’s studio is still out back, and over the years we’ve heard the stories of how people came calling to ask for a loan. Much of that early business was done with a handshake right here at the house.”
   When Estelle first came to Three Rivers fulltime she continued her open-door policy but didn’t dive right into the community pool. Then she joined the Woman’s Club in 1994 and soon learned that volunteering was what she was really cut out to do.

  “Once you become involved, you realize all the ways that your life is enhanced while helping others,” said Estelle.
   The volunteer work, Estelle said, is really what has defined her life and her friends in Three Rivers. She said the entire community should be proud of all the good works being done, especially the ongoing commitment of groups like the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, which has provided scholarships for local students, Community Food Pantry support, and donations to a steady stream of causes from the heart clinic at Kaweah Delta Medical Center to Three Rivers School to the Memorial Building, to name a few.

  “It’s really not difficult doing what I do when you so thoroughly enjoy it and work with such great people,” Estelle said. “In this town, we just move from plate to plate and glass to glass and count our blessings along the way.”

SCE prefers Lemon Cove route

   After compiling reams of background data and conducting public meetings in 2006 and 2007, officials from the Southern California Edison Company recently released an updated statement that contained a revised timetable to construct a transmission line that would greatly expand the company’s capacity to provide electricity for Tulare County. The proposed line, dubbed the San Joaquin Cross Valley Loop Project, consists of the construction of a new 19-mile double-circuit 220-kilovolt line, which would allow SCE to deliver additional power from the company’s Big Creek hydrostation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Rector Substation southeast of Visalia.
   The company is seeking the approval from the California Public Utilities Commission of its preferred Alternative 1, although two other alternatives will also be considered as a part of the application.
   Route changes to the company’s preferred Alternative 1 were widely circulated this week and will be scrutinized at a public meeting Monday, April 7, 6:30 p.m., in Exeter.
   The dilemma facing company officials is that no matter where the lines are routed somebody is bound to object. One thing is for certain, according to Bill DeLain, SCE region manager, Tulare County is one of the fastest growing regions in California and that means an increased demand for electricity. And despite SCE’s best efforts to teach conservation and consumer efficiency through outreach programs like its Agricultural Technology Center (AgTac) in Tulare, the present lines into the Rector Substation are already near limits so the proverbial handwriting is on the wall.
   What’s changed in the latest Alternative 1 route proposal is that the line would be constructed south of Highway 198 and southeast of Lemon Cove until it intersects with Big Creek 3, the Springville route located east of Lemon Cove and west of Lake Kaweah. Modifications to the proposed transmission route include constructing the line at or near existing property lines, roads, and current right-of-way where possible. What the public will see is approximately 108 tubular poles and 14 lattice steel towers ranging in height from 120 to 150 feet.
   Alternative 2 follows an existing Big Creek route northward but then skirts due east to the Springville route through Elderwood two miles north of the City of Woodlake and would be approximately 23 miles long. Alternative 3 follows existing Big Creek route then skirts north of Elderwood and is 24 miles long.
Alternative 1 makes the most sense, according to DeLain, because it is a least four miles shorter, has the fewest environmental impacts, and would cost many millions less to construct. The next step, SCE is advising all interested parties, is that officials intend to file a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity application in May 2008 to seek approval of a modified version of the project that was first proposed in 2006.
   A decision on the proposal from the California Public Utilities Commission could be expected sometime in the summer of 2009. If all goes according to SCE’s plan, construction of the new transmission line would be completed in 2011.
   For more information or if you would like to be added to the mailing list and receive project mapping, contact: Bill Delain, 685-3213 or email william.delain@sce.com.

Kings Canyon entrance station

   This winter, the Kings Canyon entrance station has been located outside the Kings Canyon Visitor Center at Grant Grove. The entrance station will be relocated back to the Big Stump parking lot, which is currently a snowplay destination, about May 1 or when the snow melts.

See what TRUS is

cooking up for Jazzaffair

   As traditional as Jazzaffair itself, the seventh-grade class at Three Rivers School and their parents will camp out at the Memorial Building during Jazzaffair weekend (April 11-13) to ensure all jazz fans receive proper sustenance. This food service is a major fundraiser for the class’s eighth-grade San Francisco trip.
   Here is the schedule and menu, entitled “All That Jazz”:

   Lunch, 3-5 pm: Po’ Boy sandwiches ($3.50), MILLER’S Vegetable Pasta Soup ($2.50).
   Dinner, 5-7:30 pm: COLTRANE Chicken (quarter chicken, tea-grilled), oolong-infused rice, green tea stir-fried vegetables, cheesecake ($8).

   Breakfast: Continental breakfast for a donation.
   Lunch, 11 am-3 pm: Po’ Boy sandwiches (if available), MILLER’S Vegetable Pasta Soup (if available), hamburgers, hot dogs, Polish sausage dogs, Gardenburgers, chips, beverages.
   Dinner, 5-7:30 pm: ARMSTRONG Chicken Alfredo with roasted red peppers and pasta, oolong-infused rice, garlic bread, green salad, brownies ($8).

   Breakfast: Continental breakfast for a donation.
   Lunch, 10:30 am-3 pm: Po’ Boy sandwiches (if available), MILLER’S    Vegetable Pasta Soup (if available), Chicken Alfredo lunch (if available), hamburgers, hot dogs, Polish sausage dogs, Gardenburgers, chips, beverages.

Sequoia Mountain Healers

describe services

   In November, many people who attended the Holiday Bazaar in Three Rivers completed a survey. It was designed to assist a new local group called “Sequoia Mountain Healers” to identify what information may be of interest regarding some of the healing services offered by the group. The following article is, in part, a response to that survey.
   Almost everyone has times in their lives when difficult choices and decisions are to be made. Relationships, health, family matters, jobs, career emphasis or retirement issues, finances in general, spiritual direction, and sometimes living arrangement concerns rise up to be resolved. “What should I do?” or “What would be the best choice for me in the larger picture?” may be some of the basic questions one wants to resolve.
   When we look outside ourselves for answers, then we usually end up in a double bind: If someone gives us advice, we take it and the result is “good,” then someone else had the power to affect our life. They were the powerful one!
   In contrast, if we take their advice and the result ends up being “bad,” then we are still disempowered and in a new stuck place.
   The “Insight Counseling” process allows someone to discover their own inner guidance. In compassionate and confidential sessions, clients are gently coached using active listening and reflection.
   The individual is assisted to bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. They explore possibilities for resolutions of their challenges. They reach a deeper discovery of their creativity, their strengths and gifts.
   A primary goal of each appointment is practical application of the individual’s new awareness of positive possibilities to their daily life challenges.
Clancy Blakemore, Ph.D. (psychology), D.D., has over 25 years experience using this process she calls “Insight Counseling”. She has assisted many people to create new directions and more success through their choices.
   For more information or to make an appointment, phone 561-4435 or email her at clancydick@sbcglobal.net.
   Clancy Blakemore is part of a local network of professionals; Sequoia Mountain Healers, “Partners in Wellness.”
   The group’s goal is to encourage and support health and well-being within our local and global community. Their mission statement is to:

  —Create opportunities for enhancing health and well-being;

  —Encourage and promote diverse healing services; and
  —Provide a network for health and well-being professionals.

Three Rivers hosts the Tajik girls

   Dig a hole from Three Rivers through the center of the Earth and you will reach Tajikistan, a mountainous country about the size of Wisconsin.
   Only seven percent of the land is flat enough to be livable. With peaks that make our local Sierra seem like hills, the country’s average elevation is about 10,000 feet.
   Two charming young ladies, Madina Rustamzoda and Shahlo Islomova, are living in Three Rivers and attending Woodlake Union High School as part of a foreign exchange program called FLEX or Future Leaders Exchange. Operated by the U.S. State Department, FLEX brings top-achieving high school students from former Soviet Union countries to the United States to learn about democracy and the American way of life.
   The ultimate goal is to develop the future leaders of these countries. Of the 50,000 students that apply for FLEX each year, less than 1,000 are accepted.
   After almost seven months in Three Rivers, Madina and Shahlo may on outside appearance seem to be typical American teenagers with a bit of an accent. But their culture, customs, and traditions are far from the way of life to which we are accustomed.
   Although they wear jeans and Nikes in their home country, the difference between men’s and women’s roles more closely mimics America 100 years ago. Tajikistan is the poorest of the former Soviet Union countries with 60 percent of the population living below the poverty level.
   When Madina returns home in June, she will prepare to attend college in Tajikistan’s capital city. Shahlo, who has longed to be a doctor as long as she can remember, currently faces a more traditional destiny.
   Tajik girls, who remain under their parents control until they wed, are expected to marry and start a family at 18. Shahlo turns 18 this month.
   Shahlo hopes to convince her parents, who are highly educated, that she has learned a better way from her time in America. She dreams to attend medical school and someday open a hospital in her country, which lacks adequate medical care for its citizens.
   For those who have struggled to learn a second language, Shahlo speaks Tajik, Russian, Turkish, Uzbek, English, and Persian. She can also understand several other languages.
   Both girls volunteered as interpreters for the World Ag Expo, assisting visitors from other countries in learning about and purchasing American farm equipment and supplies.
   The Tajik girls have a wonderful sense of humor. Shahlo attended the Tulare County Fair’s livestock auction. When a prize cow sold for $10,000, she commented, “If I knew they were worth that much I would have brought one with me.”
   This past winter, Tajikistan faced its most severe winter in the known history of the country. The country, already lacking in sufficient electricity found itself in trouble.
   Normally, most homes are provided only six hours of electricity per day. But this winter there was less, and in some villages, electricity was non-existent.
In just a few weeks, more than 200 newborn babies died because of insufficient power for hospitals. After a plea for help to the United Nations, the United States — which provides annual aid to Tajikistan — added $2 million in assistance in the form of blankets, fuel, and other supplies.
   Some of the firsts Madina and Shahlo have experienced in America include seeing the ocean (Tajikistan is a landlocked country), watching a movie in a theater, McDonalds and Taco Bell, sandwiches, and microwave ovens. They laughed the first time they saw a frozen dinner.
   In Tajikistan, most foods are prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients. Shahlo, who does most of the cooking for her family back home, had never used a can opener.
   When Shahlo volunteered at the Three Rivers Christmas Caroling event, she was handed a shovel to begin digging the fire pit. Keeping with the separation of male and female roles in her country, though she had seen a shovel used by her father and brother, she had never held one in her hands.
   Shahlo and Madina live in the country’s second largest city. Although it is a small country, it takes 12 hours to drive from their city to the capital. Shahlo explains that the trip through the mountains makes the road to Giant Forest seem like a superhighway.
   Shahlo lives with her Three Rivers host parents, Mark and Kristi Tilchen, and Madina resides with her hosts, Lee and Heidi Crouch and their daughter Hillary. Seeing Madina and Hillary together, one might assume the two have been lifelong sisters.
   The Crouches and Tilchens say that for the best experience these students must be accepted into the home as a member of the family. The FLEX program requires volunteer activities and community service, and Shahlo and Madina have done their fair share.
   Combined they have volunteered more than 200 hours to organizations like the Sequoia Natural History Association, the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Kaweah, National Park Service, and the Fresno Veterans Hospital.
   In January, Shahlo, who led her sponsoring organization’s (World Link) 80 students in volunteer hours, was selected to attend a conference at Orlando’s Disney World Resort. The “Better Understanding for a Better World” conference brought foreign exchange students from 21 countries together to learn how they can make this small planet on which we reside a better and more peaceful place.
   Shahlo’s favorite place so far is Manhattan. She describes the huge buildings, crowds, and traffic as beautiful with the same passion we might describe a magnificent sunset.
   Her second favorite spot is Las Vegas. Disneyland, a place she has dreamed of seeing since she was a young girl, is also high on her list of American favorites.
Madina, more of a nature lover, had the opportunity to join the Crouches on a Spring Break trip to Kauai, where she snorkeled with sharks and sea turtles and hiked in Waimea Canyon (Hawaii’s “Grand Canyon”). Last fall, upon seeing her first Three Rivers tarantula, Madina gently picked it up and held it to her face.
Heidi, Kristi, Lee, and Mark all say they have gained a stronger appreciation for the things we often take for granted by having had the privilege to be born in America.
   Hosting FLEX students is a lot of work, but if you ask Shahlo or Madina’s host parents, they will tell you this has been one of the greatest experiences of their lives.
   World Link is currently seeking hosts for the next school year. Contact Mark or Heidi at the number below if you would like more information.
Madina and Shahlo enjoy speaking to Americans about their country. Some of you have already had the pleasure of meeting these young ladies. If not, and your group or organization would like a fascinating guest speaker, contact Mark Tilchen or Heidi Crouch at 565-3759.
   Their time is limited as they have various activities required for their program and they return home in June, but they will try to accommodate requests.

Chamber seeks

volunteers for visitor center

   Stretching back for decades, folks from all walks of life in Three Rivers have one thing in common: a dedication to volunteerism. In fact, one might say that Three Rivers runs on volunteerism.
   From school functions and fundraisers to church or community service projects; from landscaping projects around public buildings to providing safe places for children to play; from festivals and concerts to tours and events; for the young, sick, homeless, old, or needy, locals dedicate countless hours providing service in all facets of our community.
   The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce is managed and operated like many of the groups in Three Rivers: solely by volunteers. From the board of directors to project committees and visitor services, the Chamber runs on the efforts of volunteers, all dedicated to improving the economic health and stability of this area.
   With the height of visitor season upon us, the Chamber seeks additional volunteers to help staff its visitor center located in the Three Rivers Museum. This facility is operated in partnership with the Three Rivers Historical Society.
Volunteers provide information to area visitors about Three Rivers businesses and recreational opportunities in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Volunteers do not need to be an expert on this region or the parks; the Chamber will provide training.
   Beginning May 1, the visitor center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and the Chamber is looking for folks who can staff the visitor center in four-hour shifts, one day a week. Benefits include, but are not limited to: meeting people from around the globe in an air-conditioned office; access to free, high-speed Internet; and learning new skills, potentially a great opportunity for home-schooled young adults (age 16 and older, with parent).
   In addition to operating the visitor center, the Chamber works on a variety of projects that would benefit from your volunteerism: providing exhibits and/or information booths at fairs, festivals, travel, and trade shows; creating outreach publications, like brochures or newsletters, and upgrading the website; organizing local events for businesses and residents; and much, much more.
   Now is the perfect time to donate your time, learn new skills, or lend your knowledge and experience. To volunteer with the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, contact Tom Marshall, volunteer coordinator, 561-3300.

Three greatest example of a leader

by Pastor Alex Garcia, First Baptist Church

   Editor’s note: Two weeks ago, Three Rivers was introduced to the First Baptist Church’s new pastor, Alex Garcia, in the Neighbor Profile. The following is another contribution by Pastor Alex, which readers may now look forward to monthly.
   Leadership is for everyone; all of us lead in some respect. For example, we volunteer for positions in a church, a community, at school, at work; as a Big Sister or Brother, an advisor for a friend, or a role model for those who are younger than us.
   And, of course, if you are a parent, you lead through fathering or mothering. We are leaders, and whether good or bad, people look at our lives and consider if they are worth imitating.
   What exactly is leadership? One expert in the field of leadership estimates that there are over 350 definitions of the term “Leadership.”
But in almost all definitions of leadership, the key component is people. A leader once said it this way: “He who thinks himself a leader, and turning around finds no one following, is only taking a walk.”
   Leadership can be summed up in one word, INFLUENCE. That’s it.
One of the best leaders (influencers) of all time was and is Jesus Christ. What was his priority in leadership?
   Serving people, this was his main concern. The Son of God was people-oriented.
   This was the style of his leadership — caring, listening, loving, and serving each and every person. Several times in the gospels, Jesus spoke of a different kind of leadership, usually ending with a poignant summary:
“...if anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last and the servant of all” —MARK 9:34; “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” —MATTHEW 20:28; “The greatest among you will be your servant” —MATTHEW 23:11, etc.
   To Jesus, greatness and power were not measured by the number of people serving a leader, but the extent that the leader was serving the people under him or her.
   Oswald Sanders summed up this thought by writing, “True greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them” (Spiritual Leadership, Moody Press).
The Bible teaches that leaders serve us best by leading us and lead best by serving us. The focus of the leadership style of Jesus Christ is on the growth, success, and welfare of his followers.
   His example teaches us that leadership flourishes with a meaningful relationship, not by regulations, rules, and requirements. Christ wasn’t into power, position, or prestige. His leadership was selfless not selfish, that’s a leader’s heart.
   We influence others by serving, sacrifice, and surrendering our rights all in the context of a relationship. Jesus spoke of a different kind of leading, “Servant-Leadership,” and whatever the “service,” the servant-leader looks not only at his own interests but to the interests of those he or she is leading and serving.
   Are you looking for ways to improve your leadership and influence? Jesus Christ offers a very effective life-changing leadership style. I invite you to read the gospels and explore His different kind of leading: servant-leadership.



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 2003-2008 The Kaweah Commonwealth