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In the News - Friday, May 3, 2013




New resident deputy takes over 3R patrol

by John Elliott

   When Jim Fansett, who has served as the Three Rivers resident deputy since 2000, was promoted last month to detective with the Tulare County Coroner’s Office, Deputy Scott Doyle jumped at the chance to fill the vacancy. Doyle, 31, who until recently was a community-based officer working out of the Porterville substation, said the timing couldn’t have been better to make a move.
    Deputy Doyle, who officially started patrolling Three Rivers this week, said working the Three Rivers area is one of his career goals. The 10-year department veteran said he loves the scenic backroads, the mountains, the lake, the river and, most of all, working with a great community.
    “I want to become familiar with every part of Tulare County, and as the Three Rivers deputy I will be responsible for an area with some small towns and some extremely isolated rural country,” Doyle said.
    Deputy Doyle, besides having an enthusiasm for new challenges, brings some impressive community credentials to the job, including several years as an officer with the Police   Activities League and six years working with the Explorers program.
    “It’s important to connect with the youth of the community, and I plan to continue these same programs here in Three Rivers,” Deputy Doyle said.
    If the new deputy looks familiar, The Kaweah Commonwealth readers might recall a 2004 front page photo of Doyle with another officer unloading tons of marijuana that was being incinerated after a raid in the local foothills.
    “It was my aggressive, proactive style of policing that helped me land this job,” Doyle said. “During my work in the Porterville area, I experienced narcotics, gangs, domestic fights, and officer-involved shootings,” said Doyle.
    Doyle was raised in the Bay Area until his family moved to Visalia in 1989.
    “We wanted to escape the drugs and violence there, but found even small-town Visalia had its share of gangs and drugs, too,” Doyle said.
    Doyle graduated from Golden West High School in 1999 and found employment in an agricultural service industry. After working a few years there, a friend suggested that Doyle might like a career in law enforcement.
    The aspiring cop completed the requirements of College of the Sequoias’s criminal justice program and was hired as a Tulare County deputy in 2004. As an entry-level deputy, Doyle started out working in corrections at Bob Wiley Detention Center.
    “I always heard that the Porterville substation was the toughest assignment in the department so when I could transfer that’s where I went,” Doyle said. “I loved working there because there was never a dull moment.”
    At Porterville, he was assigned to a nine-month stint as the Springville resident deputy. Once, while checking a marijuana grow site for medical compliance he discovered his subject had more than 100 grams of packaged methamphetamine.
    Because of its detrimental effects on users and their families, Doyle particularly despises methamphetamine.
    “I was proud of that bust and the fact that I could keep that quantity of misery from ever hitting the streets,” Doyle said. “When it comes to narcotics, I have zero tolerance.”
    Deputy Doyle admits there will be a learning curve associated with his Three Rivers assignment. He is a certified bomb squad technician and plans to complete his swift water rescue training soon.
    “I plan to patrol at night and let those who are out drinking see that I’m in the neighborhood,” Deputy Doyle said. “If you are drunk and insist on driving, you will suffer the consequences.”
    A self-described “devoted family man,” he will be renting a house in town, then maybe buy a place when he can move his wife-to-be and their three children up here from Visalia. They have been supportive of the move to Three Rivers from the start, he said.
    “The local folks I’ve met so far have been very generous, and I’ve been welcomed by this community with open arms,” Doyle said. “I’m always open to any help or suggestions in order to do a more effective job as your resident deputy.”
    On Monday, May 6, the community is invited to meet Deputy Scott Doyle at the Three Rivers Town Hall meeting. The meeting will convene at 7 p.m. at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

Three Rivers School wins $15K playground grant

By Holly Gallo

   The Three Rivers Union School and Eagle Booster Club’s massive campaign to renovate the play spaces on the campus achieved an astounding victory on Monday, April 29, when Three Rivers was announced as one of five winning teams to receive $15,000 grants in the national Let’s Play video contest.
  “We’re so proud of our community for coming together and showing so much enthusiasm and commitment,” said Amber Savastio, Eagle Booster Club president.
    Besides the uncountable number of locals and supporters from here and abroad who cast their votes online during the two-week Facebook voting period, many people not directly involved with the school demonstrated their support for the youth of Three Rivers in this project.
    Jeremy Cormier from Colors Art Gallery and Chump’s DVDs helped the EBC edit the winning video, and Dr. Pamela Francisco helped to write more than half of the extensive grant application. Scott Savastio “got the ball rolling” on the campaign in addition to adding creative elements to the video, and dozens of local businesses in town plastered their windows with reminders to vote.
    The Three Rivers video, featuring somewhat broken yet hopeful TRUS students’ various injuries sustained from outdated and unsafe play equipment, received the third most votes on the Facebook polling page, a major accomplishment when considering that Three Rivers faced rival cities that were more than 200 times more populated.
    Amber said that winning this grant, sponsored by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and national nonprofit children’s play organization KaBOOM!, is a major step forward in an overall plan to provide a safe and fun space for children to play, socialize, and grow. The ultimate goal is to raise $35,000 to purchase new play structures in this project.
    “There is a plan,” Amber said of the project, which will also be presented to the TRUS administration for final approval. “There will be a general EBC membership meeting the week after next and the public is highly encouraged to attend to help suggest future goals and achievements. We’ve got a plan to get the equipment before school starts again.”
    Aside from the Let’s Play grant, the EBC has received a $5,000 commitment from the TRUS Foundation, another $5,000 from the EBC itself, and $1,000 from the T-shirt sale held last month. The EBC plans to gather the remaining funds needed to complete the project through a coupon book sale set to occur in the next two weeks and other available grants that support community projects.
    It will be a one-day barn-raising style build with help from skilled community members, Amber said. To the excitement of students and the EBC board, Amber noted that a play structure that would otherwise be far outside of their allotted budget recently went on sale, making it very feasible to bring that structure home to Three Rivers.
  “The most important aspect of winning this contest is that the town has shown itself what it’s capable of without taking handouts from anyone else,” Amber said. “We earned this together. That kind of landmark for the EBC is a launching pad for many new and exciting endeavors, all of which will benefit the town directly.”
    The EBC also has an additional grant application in the works for the Playful City USA program, which is sponsored by KaBOOM! and recognizes communities that perpetrate safe and engaging age-appropriate play for children. If accepted, this grant would provide another $15,000 to $20,000 to fund community projects.

Kaweah River flows expected to peak this week

by John Elliott

   The statistics still need to be finalized but it appears that the mean inflow (1006 cubic feet per second) at Lake Kaweah that occurred Wednesday, May 1, might be the season’s peak.
  “We’ll have to wait and see what this weekend’s warmer temperatures do to the remaining snowpack,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah manager. “Some of our projections show that the peak could still occur on Sunday, May 5.”
    As of Thursday, May 2, the storage was 79,963 acre feet. Compare the current storage to May 2, 2012, which was also a so-called “dry year,” when it was 138,725.
  “Anyway you size it up, this year is about 30 percent of what would be considered normal water,” Phil said.
    But for some recreationists, there is a silver lining.
  “It depends on how you look at what some folks are already calling a dismal year,” Phil said. “Though the water will come up some more, we won’t lose a single campsite at Horse Creek.”
    Phil also said the highest lake level of the season will occur during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend when it is projected to reach approximately 100,000 acre feet (out of 185,000 acre feet capacity). That should be just enough to open the boat ramp at Slick Rock for a few days or at least until the annual draw down of Lake Kaweah begins in earnest.
    Currently, mountain areas below 9,500 feet are snow-free.

3R artist adorns county schools with healthy murals

   The following article appeared in the May 2013 issue of The News Gallery, the Tulare County Department of Education’s monthly newsletter.
    In 11 schools around Tulare County this semester, the Tulare County Office of Education’s “Network for a Healthy California” and Three Rivers artist Nadi Spencer are creating engaging visual reminders of the importance of good nutrition and physical activity. Network staff members work with school site personnel and Nadi to develop murals that are unique to each site.
    Using a bold and colorful palette, Nadi has begun creating large works of art that communicate each school’s commitment to healthy eating and daily physical exercise.
    The murals have been funded by the Network, which is a program of the California Department of Public Health, with support from the United States Department of Agriculture.  They encourage students, families, and staff to make healthy choices.
  “We are thrilled to have this mural at Kings River Union School,” said Sherry Martin, superintendent/principal. “Its vibrant colors enliven our multipurpose room and make a positive statement about healthy lifestyles.”
    Of the mural projects, Network coordinator Nani Roland said, “When our surroundings are positive and energizing, our attitudes change for the better. Our brains are stimulated by bright colors and images of children playing soccer, eating an apple, climbing a tree, or walking with their family. These experiences, depicted in the murals, can increase the importance we place on them and lead us closer to ending childhood obesity and the chronic diseases that accompany unhealthy behaviors.”
    Eleven murals will be completed by June 2013. They include: Castle Rock Elementary School and Francis J. White Learning Center (Woodlake); Lincoln Elementary School and Rocky Hill Elementary School (Exeter); Kings River Union School (Kingsburg); El Monte Middle School (Orosi); Sunnyside Union School (Strathmore); and Grand View Elementary School, John F. Kennedy Academy, Roosevelt Elementary School, and Wilson Elementary School (Dinuba).
   Editor’s note: To date, Nadi has completed five of the school murals and began painting this week on number six at John F. Kennedy Academy in Dinuba.

3R man found dead at his home

   William “Billy” Burger was found dead in his Three Rivers home on Monday, April 29.   Personnel from the Tulare County Coroner’s Office pronounced Burger dead at 5:30 p.m.
    Billy, 45, apparently died of natural causes. According to Detective David Rhodes, there was no sign of trauma or suspicious circumstances.
    The official cause of death is pending.

Local meditation garden open to the public

  Those who are familiar with the 1st Saturday circuit in Three Rivers will no doubt be well acquainted with Shirley Keller’s Spirit Hill Studio and the adjacent Zen garden on the front patio of the home she shares with her husband, Bruce.
   What is less well known is that the Zen garden is open to anyone at any time who is in need of a peaceful space in which to quiet their mind and spirit.
    The Zen garden is a small place but all the better for it. To the north and south, the foothills of Skyline Drive are curtains for the center stage of green bamboo and the eternal trickling of the rock pond. The many faces of Buddha from multiple origins enliven and inspire the garden, while the deep and low tones of heavy wind chimes gently clang from the overhanging branches of the native oaks.
    The Zen garden is open all week long, and with a knock on the door Bruce assures that access will be permitted. Bruce also hosts a mediation retreat every Friday at 11 a.m., during which time participants watch a short video from the TED Talks series, meditate, and then reconvene as everyone is given at least five minutes to share what is on their mind.
    It is impossible to visit the calming, cheery place and not leave with a sense of peace.   Whether one stays for five minutes or two hours, has meditation experience or none, the mind and body cannot help but benefit from even a brief opportunity to simply slow down.
    The garden is located at 43641 Skyline Drive. Give the garden and Spirit Hill Studio a visit this 1st Saturday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., or anytime for that matter. For additional information, call Bruce at 561-3463.

TRUS educator wins ‘Teacher of the Year’ award

   Three Rivers Union School teacher Jami Beck has been named the San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies’s 2013 Elementary Teacher of the Year. She accepted this honor at the Council’s annual award banquet on Thursday, April 18.
    Jami was one of six honorees and the only nominee outside of the city of Fresno this year.
    “It’s an honor,” Jami said. “I think the reason why people nominated me is because they believe that I want to do a good job. It’s about instilling the passion of bringing stories alive, and when we can get these kids to make connections like that, it’s a win-win.”
    The SJVCSS holds the award banquet to recognize local educators who excel in contributing to history and social science education. Six honorees are chosen for each category of elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher, student teacher, college professor, or history/social science administrator.
    Nomination for the award is judged by SJVCSS board members on a variety of criteria, among them creative and effective use of instructional materials, mastery of scholarship in history and social science, leadership, and professionalism.
    Jami, who resides in Three Rivers and whose four children graduated from the school, has been a teacher at TRUS since the 2004/2005 school year.

Woodlake Western Week counts down to

Mother’s Day weekend and the Woodlake Lions Rodeo
Special section in the print edition includes Western Week schedule, Rodeo Queen contestants, and more.

Greetings from the

Woodlake Lions Rodeo grand marshal

By Ed Micham, grand marshal

    It is a great honor to have been chosen Grand Marshal this year!
    When we moved to Woodlake in April 1956 I would have never believed that years later I would have this honor of being Grand Marshal of the Woodlake Rodeo and Parade.
    In 1955, my parents, grandparents and myself were raising turkeys in Missouri, which made nothing. Due to hard times, my parents Paul and Lee Micham sold their farm there and came west to Woodlake. We hauled hay for most of the old ranching families in Woodlake.    Here, if you worked hard you could average $1.25 per hour hauling hay.
    I thought, why would anybody want to go to high school when you could make this fortune? All you had to do was work! I ended up not going to high school that fall and hauled olives, grapes, and oranges.
    In the good old days, there was the old Copa Grande Pool Hall and Saloon. During the days when I wasn’t working I would go to the pool hall to play pool. Since I wasn’t in school, the bartender assumed I was old enough to buy drinks. I never drank but a few times and always bought my buddies a drink.
    I got married in 1961 to Phyllis Haynes and had four wonderful daughters: Cathy, Kimberly, Tina, and Amy. Phyllis and I divorced, and I later married Juana Jimenez from Bogota, Colombia. Juana and I have one daughter, Luisa.
    My oldest daughter Cathy passed away in May 2007. My dad, Paul, passed away in May 2003 and my mother passed away in July 2012. I sure do miss them all.
    In 1962, I started working in construction for S.L. Miller who built most of the orange packing plants. My first superintendent position for Miller was on the LoBue Bros., Inc., packinghouse in Lindsay around 1967.
    In December 1973, I got my contractor’s license. After getting my license, I began to build homes in Visalia.
    In 1975, I built the Phyllis Wall Library and Museum at SCICON, and we just started an addition to it last month.
    In July 2003, I opened High Sierra Lumber. There were two locations, one in Woodlake and one in Tulare. Due to the economy, we closed the Woodlake yard. I still have the Woodlake property and hopefully if the economy gets better I can reopen it.
    Juana and I spend about half of our time in Missouri where we have my dream animals. We have buffalo, elk, deer, watusi and longhorn cattle, African lions, and Bengal tigers.
    I have been a very lucky man. God, for some reason, has blessed me with so much. I’ve lived all of my dreams.
    I have met and have so many great friends, a wonderful family, and a good business. I also did quite a bit of hunting in between.
    What more could a redneck boy from Missouri, born in a log cabin with no doctor, and no electricity or plumbing (but had great parents) ask for? All I can say is God gave it all to me.
    It’s been one heck of a ride; 71 years, not 8 seconds!
    Thanks again to all, and God bless.
    See Ed Micham at the Woodlake Parade on Saturday, May 11, beginning at 10 a.m., or at the Woodlake Rodeo on Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12.


Opal Canafax
1928 ~ 2013

    Opal N. Canafax, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Tuesday, April 23, 2013, She was 85.
    Opal was born February 29, 1928, to A.C. and Mabel Compton in Oklahoma. On December 14, 1948, she married her husband, Euel, in Yuma, Ariz.
    Opal enjoyed painting. She loved her family and church.
    Opal was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Euel, and her sons, Larry Canafax and Gary Canafax.
    She is survived by her granddaughters, Kyla Surratt, Christy Canafax, and Jaime Sloan and husband Mike; four great-grandchildren; daughter-in-law Peggy Owens; and niece Jane Feldman and husband Ron.
    A graveside service was held Tuesday, April 30, at Visalia Cemetery.

Euel Canafax
1922 ~ 2012

    Euel L. Canafax, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in Visalia. He was 90.
    Euel was born March 22, 1922, to Elmer and Grace Canafax in Simpson, Okla. He and his wife, Opal, were married December 14, 1948, in Yuma, Ariz. Euel died on the couple’s 64th wedding anniversary.
    Euel loved his family and church. He enjoyed gardening, especially growing roses.
    Euel was preceded in death by his two sons, Larry Canafax and Gary Canafax.
    He was survived until April 23, 2013, by his wife, Opal. He is also survived by grandchildren Kyla Surratt, Christy Canafax, and Jaime Sloan and husband Mike; four great-grandchildren; daughter-in-law Peggy Owens; and his sisters, Nadine Murray and Elzada Ogden.
    Interment was at Visalia Cemetery. Remembrances may be made to Kaweah Delta Hospice.

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
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