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for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

In the News - Friday, APRIL 21, 2006

JAZZAFFAIR 2006: The instruments

and those who play them (a pictorial

wrap of the 33rd annual event, only in

the April 21 print edition)


Community members

provide updates on

local issues, projects

   A busy agenda had something for everyone at last Monday’s Town Meeting. The Three Rivers Village Foundation sponsored the monthly gathering at the Memorial Building.
   SCENIC HIGHWAY ACCELERATES-- Tom Sparks, a spokesperson for the foundation, conducted the meeting and was moderator for the discussion on the scenic highway. He said that the visual assessment prepared by his group had already been reviewed by officials from the county and Caltrans
    The next step, Sparks said, is an official resolution by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors requesting the designation for the 16 miles of the Kaweah Scenic Highway. That resolution could be forthcoming as early as the April 25 meeting.
    Ann Chapman, a Tulare County planner who is working on the application, said that although Highway 198 was identified in the 1960s as a potential scenic highway, Tulare County has remained one of the California counties without a designated scenic highway.
    What it requires to get the job done, Chapman said, is a local group to submit the package. After the boundaries are mapped, county planners then develop a scenic corridor protection plan.
    Chapman said there are four major elements of the protection plan to be considered: land use in the vicinity of the scenic boundaries; stipulations for detailed site planning; development of standards for signage and regulation of outdoor advertising; and grading guidelines for projects within the corridor.

   “There is really nothing new that is not already being addressed by the current planning regulations,” Chapman said.
    COUNTY NOW HAS FIRE DEPARTMENT-- Supervisor Allen Ishida then introduced Steve Sunderland, the recently appointed chief of Tulare County’s new fire department. Sunderland said he has 36 years of fire service with CDF with 25 of those years in Tulare County.

   “As a former battalion chief at Badger, I’ve been involved with every major fire in the Three Rivers area during that time,” Sunderland said. “We have been fortunate during these fires, and by working closely with the other agencies have been able to avoid a major disaster.”
    Sunderland assured all those in attendance that CDF and Tulare County would continue to work together to provide quality service in Three Rivers.

   “We hope to be fully staffed and operational by July 2007,” Supervisor Ishida said.

   SIERRA NEVADA CONSERVANCY MEETS LOCALLY-- Ishida also announced that the Sierra Nevada Conservancy would be conducting a local workshop meeting in Exeter on Wednesday, April 26. The purpose of the meeting is to seek proposals to use grant monies in Sierra foothill communities.
    As a board member of that organization, Ishida said he hopes to steer some of the money into Three Rivers. Interested persons may call his office for more information, 733-6271.
    PARK GEARS UP FOR SUMMER-- Representatives from the Ash Mountain headquarters in Sequoia National Park also made presentations on developments in the local parks. Eric Inman, the parks’ resident special agent, said his officers are implementing a plan to rid the national parks of marijuana growers.
    Inman said they have already spotted scouts who are looking for new grow sites to plant in the current season. He said each year they are hiking to even more remote locations that are linked to offsite water sources by miles of irrigation hoses.

   “For every garden site we eradicate, it costs taxpayers approximately $11,000 per acre to clean up the mess and restore the landscape,” Inman said.
    Bill Tweed, chief of interpretation, presented an update on two transportation projects scheduled for Sequoia National Park. He said that the NPS was currently revising a contract for more work on the Generals Highway for the portion from Big Fern Spring to Amphitheater Point.
    Tweed said 11 of the 17 miles of the 80-year-old roadway has been rebuilt but the steepest portion remains. He said the NPS is having difficulty competing in a busy construction market and so far the bids on the next section have been 50 percent higher than what is acceptable.

   “We hope to have a new contract in place in time for the 2007 construction season,” Tweed said.
    There are also plans to begin a free Giant Forest visitor shuttle in the summer of 2007, Tweed said. It will be funded out of existing park fees.  

   “The shuttle is something we [NPS] always planned to do as part of the restoration of Giant Forest,” Tweed said. “We think it will enhance the visitor experience and make it a better place to go and spend time.”
    FOUNDATION NEEDS MEMBER SUPPORT-- Marge Ewen, a founding board member of the Village Foundation said her group is still looking for new members that would like to help with community events and projects. The scenic highway program, she said, is just one of the ways the foundation is working to preserve and protect the beauty of Three Rivers.

   “We [the foundation] are also working with county planners to achieve an acceptable Foothill Growth Management Plan that would preserve this cherished community for residents and visitors for generations to come,” Ewen said. “Anyone is welcome to join with us and become directly involved as a member of the Three Rivers Village Foundation.”
    For more information, call 561-0123.

One dead, two injured

in recent traffic accidents

    As the weather warms and the days are longer, more pedestrians are out and about along Kaweah Country roadways. On Tuesday, April 18, Woodlake police officers responded to Valencia and Hermosa avenues after receiving a report that a vehicle driven by a 57-year-old Woodlake man had struck a child.
    The victim was identified as a nine-year-old boy who had entered the roadway to retrieve a ball. He was given medical aid at the scene by the Woodlake Fire Department and transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia where he succumbed to his injuries.
    The motorist was not cited and released at the scene. An investigation by the Woodlake Police Department is ongoing.
    Last Sunday night (April 16) at 9:30 p.m., a Three Rivers couple was headed westbound on Highway 198 in a 1995 Nissan pickup when the driver suddenly attempted a U-turn just past the entrance to the Slick Rock Recreation Area. The driver, Bryan Hannah, 34, failed to negotiate the turn and the vehicle plummeted 150 feet off the roadway.
    A female passenger, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle and received a shoulder injury. She was transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital where she was treated and later released.
    Hannah, who also was not wearing a seatbelt, was transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital with a back injury. He was later moved to another hospital where he remains for further treatment.

  “We are not certain what caused the accident though the pavement was wet,” said Greg Fox, the CHP officer who investigated the accident. Officer Fox said that alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

In the pink:

3R ropers to

ride for a cause

    The Three Rivers Roping Arena will be pretty in pink on Friday, April 28, during the second day of the annual competition. But it won’t be foothills wildflowers you’re seeing, but ropers… and Lions Club members… and fans… and maybe even a horse or two.
That’s because the Three Rivers Lions have designated that day as “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” Day, a campaign by the western industry to promote awareness of breast cancer.
    While pink is not typically associated with cowboys and cowgirls or ropings and rodeos, the campaign kicked off in December at the National Finals Rodeo with great success where competitors and spectators turned the arena into a sea of pink. It is expected that this year, more than 100 rodeos will sponsor some form of Tough Enough to Wear Pink promotion.
    The Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign is the brainchild of Terry Wheatley, a Tehama County woman who is a breast cancer survivor. Her son, Wade Wheatley, is a championship roper whose partner is Kyle Lockett of Ivanhoe.
   After winning the Three Rivers Open last year, Kyle is expected to return to Three Rivers again this year and it's possible he will compete with partner Wade. You can bet that these are a couple of cowboys who are definitely Tough Enough to Wear Pink.

   “If you want to see some of the same cowboys you saw on ESPN at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, this is your chance to watch some of the best in the world,” said Van Bailey, a Three Rivers Lion and longtime organizer of the local Roping.
    On Friday, the local Lions Club will donate all arena fees collected from the Mixed Roping (guys and gals) competition to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in memory of Joanie Gatz of Ceres, a roper and, as a roping producer, a longtime friend of the Three Rivers Roping. She passed away in January.
    Tough Enough to Wear Pink merchandise will be on sale throughout next week’s Three Rivers Team Roping (Thursday-Sunday, April 27-30). All proceeds will benefit breast cancer awareness and prevention.
    And there’s so much more— Competition at the four-day event begins Thursday, April 27, at 10 am. Admission to the arena is just a buck, which also purchases a raffle ticket for a quarter-side of beef and other prizes.
    In addition to Friday’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink Day, Sunday at the Three Rivers Roping is traditionally Family Day. Kids’ activities will supplement the ongoing roping competition, including the Pee-wee Roping, a Bounce House, the Pig Scramble, and ice cream sales by the Three Rivers School seventh-grade class.
    Daily throughout the weekend, the Lions Club will serve up breakfast and barbecued lunches and dinners to fans and the more than 900 or so contestants who are expected to ride into town.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
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