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In the News - Friday, April 24, 2009

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)




JAZZ 2009 photo gallery


Woodlake Western Week

features free flights for youth

Chris Crumly of the Woodlake Flying Tigers

and his Beechcraft Debonair.

  Forget virtual reality. This is the real deal.
   Young Eagles is a program of the Experimental Aircraft Association that provides free rides to anyone between the ages of eight and 17 years old. The Woodlake Flying Tigers chapter of EAA will offer 15-minute flights Saturday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Woodlake Airport There is no catch; just bring a parent or guardian to sign a permission slip and your desire to experience a whole new world.
   These aren’t carnival rides, pony rides, or rides in your uncle’s hoopty. Imagine the best roller coaster ever, then imagine no tracks and the sky as your limit. Imagine flight.
   In the spirit of aviation, pilots will be on hand to walk each kid through all aspects of the aircraft and the skills needed to fly one. Participants can learn what its like to soar into the wild blue yonder.
   Afterward, each novice flyer will be presented with a book called Learn to Fly and a certificate as a Young Eagle.
   Pilots like Byron Taylor and Chris Crumly, both of whom live near Woodlake and have over 20 years of flying experience each, will take each Young Eagle up in their personal aircraft and demonstrate firsthand how a plane flies.
   The event is held by the Woodlake Flying Tigers as a part of Woodlake’s Western Week and is fully sponsored by the EAA, an organization of more than 1,000 chapters around the world. In fact, more than one million Young Eagles have already flown.
   The reason for the free flights is simple. These people love to fly. They want to introduce young prospective pilots to the realities of flight. It is a passion, they hope, that could lead to a career.
   No need to tell the kids, but Young Eagles also learn a busload about science and physics as well. If I was you and I missed this, I’d be mad at me.

Sunday is Family Day

at Three Rivers Roping

Every day at the Roping has thrills for all, but the local Lions Club will really focus on the kids on Sunday, April 26. There is the traditional Pig Scramble, in which several different age groups of children are let loose in the arena for the chance to catch one of the little squealers. There is also the Pee Wee Roping and Barrel Race, as well as a bounce house and other activities for children. Admission to the Roping is just $1 per car.

River View burglarized

   During a busy weekend like Jazzaffair there’s lots of cash changing hands at local businesses. Apparently, the prospect of stealing the weekend’s receipts from the River View Restaurant and Lounge was just too tempting for one burglar to resist.
   When Rex Hildebrand, who owns and operates the Sierra Drive bar and restaurant with his wife Dorletta, arrived for work on Monday, April 20, he noticed one of the security doors was pried open. It didn’t take long to realize that a burglar had entered the premises through a door to the old office and then apparently cut the power at precisely 2:23 a.m.

  “It was unusual to have that much cash in the place but last weekend we were very busy,” said Dorletta. “No alcohol, big-screen TV, or any electronics were taken. The burglar took the cash and ran.”
Dorletta reported a total of $5,910 missing and said even the rolled coin was gone. Rex immediately reported the theft to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
   Jim Fansett, Three Rivers resident deputy, arrived on the scene and dusted for fingerprints while gathering some more evidence, including a surveillance tape that recorded the scene until the power went off.

  “Evidently, the burglar cut the power so the parking area was dark,” Dorletta said.
   The business owners had nothing but praise for the professionalism of Deputy Fansett who is conducting the investigation.

  “Another deputy told us in a bad economy like this, business owners can expect burglaries to get even worse,” Dorletta said. “In Tulare County alone, they are making 50 arrests a day and still not even close to getting all the bad guys.”
   Dorletta said she doesn’t expect to get the money back but hopes they catch the burglar and prosecute to the full extent of the law.

Roping weather will be

sunny and seasonable

   After three consecutive days when daytime highs averaged nearly 20 degrees above normal, the weekend will see a return to the more seasonal 70s. There is only a slight chance of precipitation throughout the seven-day period.
   Record high temperatures were tied or broken all over the western U.S. Denver experienced a foot of snow and temperatures in the mid-80s in the same week.

  “When temperatures begin to climb into the 90s, we can usually expect a chemical process to occur where particulates cook in the atmosphere to create higher ozone levels and poor air quality,” said Annie Esperanza, air quality specialist with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   Esperanza said Kaweah Country dodged a bullet this week because nights are still cool and temperatures began to moderate before there was a significant build-up of pollutants.

  “Even though temperatures felt like summer, it’s still a little too early for summer and its typically unhealthy air quality,” Esperanza said. “We can all breathe easier for a little while longer.”
   To learn more about Kaweah Country air quality and challenges we all face to improve it, attend Annie Esperanza’s presentation at Earth Day 2009 on Saturday, May 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

Weekly tip

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

   Rape is a violent crime, a hostile attack, an attempt to hurt and humiliate. It is not the result of “uncontrolled passions.”
   Rape can happen to anyone. Students, working women, wives, mothers, children, grandmothers, and even males are the victims of rape.
   Rape can occur anywhere and at anytime, in public or in your own home, day or night. Rapists are not necessarily strangers. In fact, in over one-third of reported cases, the rapist is an acquaintance, neighbor, friend, or relative of the victim.
   Rape is one of the most underreported crimes. The majority of rapists continue until caught. So report any kind of sexual assault.
There are many types of sexual assault and many victims, including young children. Rape prevention tips for women is this article’s focus.
   Here is some of what a (male) rapist looks for when selecting their (adult female) victim:

  —Hairstyle. A rapist will most likely go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid, or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

  —Clothing. They will look for women whose clothing can be removed quickly. Many carry scissors to cut clothing.

  —Distractions. A woman on her cell phone, searching through their purse, or doing other activities while walking are attractive targets because they are not aware of their surroundings, are off-guard, and can be easily overpowered.

  —Time of day. Men are more likely to attack and rape a woman in the early morning, between 5 and 8:30 a.m.

  —Location. The number-one place women are abducted from or attacked at is a grocery store parking lot. Number two is an office parking lot or garage. Number three is a public restroom.
   Men will mostly plan on abducting a woman quickly to move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about being caught.    Statistically, very few rapists carry weapons because rape carries a three-to-five year sentence, but rape with a weapon is 15 to 20 years.
   It is important that women prevent themselves from being taken to the “second location.” It has been documented that if a woman puts up a fight, the rapist could get discouraged, realizing that she may not be worth the trouble because it will be loud and time-consuming.
   Studies also have shown that men will not choose a woman who is carrying an umbrella or other similar objects in their hands that can be used as a weapon. On the other hand, don’t count on keys as a deterrent because you have to be really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon.
   Here are some defense mechanisms:

  —If someone is following behind you on a street, in a parking garage, or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time it is. Now you’ve seen their face and you lose appeal as a target because you can identify them in a lineup.

  —If someone is coming toward you, and that little voice in your head warns you that danger is imminent, hold out your hands in front of you and yell, “Stop!” or “Stay back!” or, if you happen to be forewarned enough to have pepper spray in your hand, “I have pepper spray!” Remember, they are looking for an easy target.

  —If someone grabs you, you may not be able to beat them with strength, but you can outsmart them. Pinch an attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh… hard.   Or grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible while also applying downward pressure. Then, when the opportunity presents itself, go for the groin. Yes, these tactics will anger a would-be rapist, but again, they are looking for someone who is easy to overpower.

10 years ago in

The Kaweah Commonwealth

— APRIL 23, 1999 —

   Wuksachi set for Memorial Day opening— Three lodge buildings, a dining room, gift shop, conference rooms, and reception area were nearing completion and staff was being trained for the new Wuksachi Village in Sequoia National Park. It was announced that the new visitor complex was scheduled to open to the public on Memorial Day weekend.
   Town meeting rescheduled to May— The monthly town meeting, conducted by Supervisor Bill Sanders, would be postponed for a week. In reaction to the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo., a representative of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department would present a program on violence prevention.
   GMP meeting explores visions for 21st century— During a public meeting on April 20 in Three Rivers, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks planning team leaders requested that local participants define a vision for the future of the neighboring parks. Coincidentally, Susan Spain, GMP team leader who works out of the National Park Service’s Denver office, lives in Littleton, Colo., and expressed shock at hearing the news about the tragic school shooting that occurred earlier in the day.
   49th annual Lions Team Roping: It’s a family affair— ACTRA, the American Cowboy Team Roping Association, was recognized for its support of the Three Rivers Team Roping. ACTRA was described as “family-oriented.” The article explained: “Today, with the emergence of team roping as an officially sanctioned sport, the ropers are placed in one of eight categories similar to a handicap in golf. The rules level the playing field and have attracted record numbers of beginners, especially female ropers. What this has done is open up the sport so that the beginners are not intimidated by the pros anymore.”


Thelma Alles Crain
1912 ~ 2009

   Thelma Elaine (Alles) Crain, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Friday, April 17, 2009, in Danville. She was 96.
   A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 9. High Sierra Jazz Band and other musicians will perform (more details to follow).
   Thelma was born May 21, 1912, in Exeter, the eldest daughter of John and Rebecca Alles. Conrad and Christina Alles, Thelma’s grandparents, arrived in Three Rivers in 1885.
   Thelma’s youngest years were spent at Edison Village, also known as “Camp Edison,” as her father was operator at the electric plant. From 1910 to 1940, Edison Village, or “Camp Edison,” was a thriving community for company families and, later, seasonal employees of Sequoia National Park. The camp was located near the present-day park entrance at Ash Mountain, where the Park Service’s Buckeye housing tract is now situated.
   Thelma attended school in Three Rivers through the eighth grade. When she was 12, her family relocated to Long Beach, where she graduated from Wilson High School in 1929 and attended Long Beach Junior College.
   Thelma met her husband-to-be Chester Crain at the Eastside Christian Church in Long Beach. They married in 1935 and the following year, the couple moved to Compton, which is where they raised their two children.
   Thelma was a beautician for 20 years, and upon Chet and Thelma’s retirements in 1969, the couple relocated to Thelma’s hometown, Three Rivers, where they built their home along the South Fork of the Kaweah River and became active members of the community. They were involved in the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce and the Community Presbyterian Church, where Thelma was a charter member, along with her mother and two sisters.
   Thelma was a longtime distributor for the Shaklee Corporation, selling biodegradable homecare, healthy personal care, and nutritional products. In 1972, Thelma and Chet became members of the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance Service. Thelma became certified as an EMT I and provided dedicated service for the next six years.
   Upon first hearing the Jazzberry Jam Band play in 1973, Chet and Thelma became devoted fans of the traditional jazz movement in Three Rivers. They were among the founding members of the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, formed in 1974, and as Jazzberry Jam evolved into High Sierra Jazz Band, Chet eventually became the group’s manager.
   The couple traveled with the band as their gigs took them throughout California and soon expanded to festivals throughout the nation, jazz cruises, and international performances. Thelma, who played the piano since she was four years old, also composed a theme song specifically for Jazzaffair.
   In the 1980s, Thelma dabbled in the art of stained glass. Her work graces the Community Presbyterian Church, where the front windows of the sanctuary are decorated with exquisite stained-glass images of local wildflowers. A framed stained-glass picture created by Thelma is near the pulpit and depicts Jesus in prayer at Gethsemane.
   In 1995, at the urging of her family, Thelma self-published a book entitled Sunbeams & Buzzards: Letters from Three Rivers. It seems that Thelma’s creative and humorous writing style was well-loved amongst her family and friends, so many of the letters were gathered and published, along with historical reminiscences from both phases of her Three Rivers residency.
   Thelma was a member of the Southern Sierra Archaeology Society and, formerly, of the Archaeological Survey Association, where in 1965, she participated in a dig at the “Calico Early Man Site” near Barstow. During this project, she had the esteemed privilege of working under the direction of Dr. Louis Leakey, renowned archaeologist and paleontologist.
   More recently, Thelma was a charter member and former director of the Three Rivers Historical Society.
In 1984, Thelma was preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, Chet. She was also preceded in death by her two younger sisters, Dorothy and Lois.
   She is survived by her son John “Rusty” Crain and wife Pat of Three Rivers; daughter Connie Tong and husband George of Walnut Creek; four grandchildren, Holly Peltzer, who is the fifth generation of the Alles family to reside in Three Rivers, LeeAnne Crain of Oklahoma, Dan Tong, and Laurie Fenner; four great-grandchildren, Chris Tong and Jennifer, Jim, and Andy Fenner; niece Carol McGrew of Three Rivers; and nephews Paul Boley and Hal Boley, both of Three Rivers.
   In lieu of flowers, contributions in Thelma’s name may be made to the Three Rivers Historical Society (P.O. Box 162, Three Rivers, CA 93271), Sierra Traditional Jazz Club (P.O. Box 712, Three Rivers, CA 93271), or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

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
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