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In the News - Friday, May 8, 2009

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Yuccas in Sequoia

IT’S EASY TO see why Mormon settlers referred to the yucca as “The Lord’s Candle.” The tall, showy blooms are currently resplendent in various shapes and forms just above the park headquarters at Ash Mountain. Soon they will truly light up the hillsides on both sides of the Kaweah canyon as they reach peak bloom, attaining heights of 10 to 20 feet.

Lake Kaweah is crime scene

   When it comes to petty crime, Lake Kaweah park rangers have just about seen it all. The remote location, especially at night, has numerous areas that invite criminal activity.
   On the morning of Wednesday, April 29, shortly after sunrise, a lake employee discovered the burned-out hulk of an automobile at Kaweah Recreation Area No. 2. Apparently, the barely recognizable Chevy Cobalt was stolen in Visalia and ditched near the boat ramp.
   After a joyride, it’s not uncommon for the thief or thieves to torch the vehicle in an attempt to destroy any evidence that might be obtained from the scene.
   A CHP officer was summoned and filed the standard accident report. Anyone who might have seen something suspicious that morning is asked to call the Visalia CHP at 733-6767.
   In a separate incident, a thief broke into the construction trailer in the parking area of the new boat ramp east of the entrance to Slick Rock. A number of tools, including a new leaf blower and construction materials worth several thousand dollars, were stolen in the heist.
The break-in occurred sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, May 2 to 3. According to a report filed by Valerie McKay, park ranger, the hasp with the lock still locked was ripped off and tossed away nearby.
   On Wednesday, May 6, a Lake Kaweah visitor was parked alongside the road near Horse Creek. He told a sheriff’s deputy that while he was away from the vehicle someone broke in and removed a laptop computer and XM satellite radio receiver. The police report estimated the loss to be $1,100.
   Park rangers are reminding all visitors to always use caution and be extra vigilant in the busy summer season. If you have information in these break-ins or to report suspicious activity at Lake Kaweah, call 597-2301.

Weekend forecast is sunny and hot

   On Saturday, May 9, temperatures, for the first time in the past two weeks, will climb into the lower 90s in the Central Valley and Sierra foothills areas of Tulare County. More seasonal mid-80 degree readings should return by the start of the work week and the warm, breezy weather will continue throughout the next seven days.
   The refreshing gully washer of Friday, May 1, dropped .65 of an inch of precipitation in Three Rivers, bringing the current season total to 15.60 inches of rainfall. That total approximates last year’s total of 18.42 inches; the final rainfall event of the 2007-2008 season (prior to July 1) occurred on May 25.
   Cal Fire officials are already planning for lots of activity in the 2009 season. Fires whipped by fierce dry winds are currently burning in Santa Barbara consuming tinder dry brush and an unknown number of homes because smoke was so thick that as of Thursday, May 7, it wasn’t possible in some locales to get an accurate count.

  “The way we received the precipitation this year the vegetation is still tall and dense and now it’s rapidly drying out,” said a local firefighter. “These conditions are creating an extremely hazardous situation all over California.”
   No precipitation is in the 10-day forecast. Mountain snow is melting fast and the river is rising, cold, and dangerously swift.

Town Meeting addresses local, county issues

   Regular attendees of the monthly Town Hall sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation have known for some time they can count on learning about a variety of topics. Last Monday night’s forum at the Three Rivers Memorial Building was no exception.
   The agenda featured an array of topics from fire safety to septic system maintenance tips. Lt. Dave Galloway of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was first among a procession of speakers.
   Lt. Galloway reminded the audience that this is river rafting season and there is the usual group of rafting companies that are licensed to operate on the Kaweah River. With more river use comes an annual rise in crime so more deputies will be assigned to patrol throughout the busy summer season.
   Arlin Talley, who spoke on behalf of the local chamber of commerce, said the group has a new slate of officers. He also said that Lake Kaweah is planning a grand opening for the Slick Rock boat ramp in the next couple of weeks.
   Deb Schweizer, fire education specialist, spoke for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. In addition to her announcement that the park planned 17 prescribed burns this season, she introduced Kevin Hendricks, the new chief ranger, who assumed the duties of J.D. Swed. Ranger Swed retired at the end of last year.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida said that an Oak Preservation Plan is currently being drafted by county planners. A discussion item on the project is scheduled to be part of the next Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, May 13.
   Supervisor Ishida also reported that the expansion of the county’s new ag museum is moving forward. The focus of the new exhibit and research center is the history of agricultural laborers in Tulare County.
   Next up was a panel of fire experts including Kaweah Battalion chief Robin Peretto of Cal Fire and Tulare County Fire Chief Steve Sunderland. Chief Peretto said Cal Fire has developed a sample vegetation patch near Highway 190 that helps determine when seasonal vegetation becomes volatile fuel.
   Though the announcement was low-key, he said, no more hazard-reduction burning will be permitted in the current season effective May 1. The official onset of fire season is just around the corner and the foothills face some serious risk in the already drought-like conditions.
Tulare County Fire Department officials said that local fire insurance requirements may exceed state regulations, apparently part of the added cost of living in a wildland fire interface zone. There is also a fundraiser being planned to raise money to restore a fire engine/ water tender.
   Among the more useful information presented was a list of septic system maintenance tips. The tips were presented by Carole Clum during her Earth Day 2009 summary and included what to and what not to do to keep septic systems doing what they were designed to do.
A complete list of the tips is available at the Community Services District office or online at: www.3riverscsd.com/print/know_septic.pdf.
   The next Town Hall is tentatively scheduled for Monday, June 8.

Auction to benefit Presbyterian Church

   Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers is holding a fundraising auction on Sunday, May 17, beginning at noon. Along with great bargains on pre-owned treasures, there will also be a complimentary salad luncheon that is open to everyone.

  “We would like to invite the community to come as our guests,” said Marilyn Sparks, an organizer of the event. “We are seeking donations of pre-owned furniture, quality children’s toys, all saleable items except for clothing.”
   Items may be delivered to the church or, if necessary, call Marilyn at 561-0406 to arrange to have them picked up. This is an opportunity to clear out some no-longer-needed stuff while contributing to a good cause.
   A wide variety of items already donated for the auction include a piano, two adult bicycles, weed-eater, massage chair, desk and chair, food processor, juicer (used only twice), and more.
   Following the auction will be a bake sale, beginning with proceeds going toward a trip for Pastor Arlin Talley and his wife Carolyn to travel to Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps next year to attend the world-famous passion play that is only held every 10 years, a tradition dating back to the 1630s.
   Community Presbyterian Church traces its origins to Christina Alles, known to all as “Grandma Alles.” Born in Germany in 1842, she came to Kaweah Country with her husband Conrad in 1887. Grandma Alles began teaching Sunday School at her home in the 1890s. It was from that seed that the present church grew.
   The school prospered under the leadership of Mrs. W.G. (Bunny) Attwell in the 1930s. In 1939, the church was organized by the Presbytery of San Joaquin with 45 communicant members. Plans to build a permanent church building began.
   Dan and Margaret Alles and their son-in-law and daughter, Dolph and Beulah Beam, donated the building site on a beautiful knoll, and W.T. Wees donated the wood hewn on his land at Silver City and paid for all the hardware. On November 2, 1941, the new building was dedicated with the Reverend John Buchholz as pastor.
   Community Presbyterian Church is located at 43410 Sierra Drive, on the hill next to We Three Bakery. That’s the place to be on Sunday, May 17, at noon for bargains, food, and fellowship.

Lions crown Rodeo Queen 2009,

name Grand Marshal

   Jennifer Murphy had her coronation as 2009 Woodlake Rodeo Queen on Saturday, May 2. Just four days later, after working her two jobs (one as a horseback riding instructor), she competed in the annual Western Week soap box derby against Mindy Garrison, the 2008 Queen. Queen Mindy, drawing on last year’s experience, won by a nose.

  “She beat me by less than two feet,” said Jennifer. “I’m asking for a rematch! She had the car all scoped out… and picked the best one.”
   There was a giggle beneath the defiance. The reigning queen has known Mindy for years on the gymkhana circuit (timed equestrian games for aspiring rodeo competitors) and the good-natured rivalry goes with the territory. It is territory that Jennifer Murphy knows well.
   Born in 1984 in Oakdale, a place Jennifer proclaims as the “cowboy capital of the world.” Jennifer grew up around horses. She has been competing in equestrian events since age five.
   Since then, she has lived the cowboy-girl lifestyle. An exceptional student she graduated Exeter Union High with a 3.8 grade point average before accepting a scholarship from CSU Stanislaus in Turlock. Then it was off to Washington for more college classes.

  “Horse people there are more into show, not rodeo,” Jennifer said of Washington, and though she met good people and made lots of friends, she described those folks “as not quite rodeo people.”
   This newly crowned rodeo queen was glad, she said, to be back among friends and family upon returning to Tulare County. She is currently a sophomore at College of the Sequoias.
   While amassing an impressive list of scholastic achievements, she has also led the field in several equestrian events. Her achievements range from California High School Rodeo Association State (CHSRA) finals qualifier 1999-2002, CHSRA District 6 Rodeo Queen 2000-2001, Short Go Qualifier, Pole Bending Champion… and the list goes on.
   Jennifer’s community involvement credentials include Special Needs Rodeo Volunteer, Royal Express Youth Drill Team Captain, and her favorite, the Springville Mounted Drill Team, which she has coached for three years.

  “It’s the most fun you can have on horseback.” said the Queen, referring to the Drill Team. “Barrel racing (another passion) is a complete rush, but drill is the real team sport in rodeo.”
   So what does being rodeo queen mean to Jennifer?

  “Being a role model, rodeo queens have all the attributes that a young lady should have,” Jennifer explained.”
Poise and grace are among her best assets.

  “I’m a little old fashioned,” she added. “My lifelong goal has always been to be a mom.”
   Old fashioned with a plan.

  “Raising good kids is the most important job any person could have,” said Jennifer.
   This 2009 rodeo queen sees a future in which she manages marriage, motherhood, continues her equestrian business and, of course, continuing to be a good role model and mentor.
   Grand Marshal 2009— Grand Marshal Ernesteen Ferry is no stranger to poise and grace. Born in Texas in 1921, “Steen,” as she is known to friends and family, followed her sister to Bakersfield during World War II. It was there, while Steen was working at a Lockheed aircraft plant that she met William “Bill” Ferry.
   The sisters, who had family in Strathmore, had been properly introduced to Mr. Ferry, who often visited his folks in Woodlake. During shared, gasoline-rationed travels, a romance blossomed between Bill and Steen. They were married on VJ Day — August 15, 1945.
   In 1947, the Ferrys moved to the Elderwood area of Woodlake and set about raising a family and growing citrus. Bill Ferry played a large part in starting the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) event in Woodlake and took an active annual role.
   Bill and Steen raised three children, two of which are still active rodeo boosters. She also is a proud grandmother of six and great-grandmother of six.
   When Bill passed on in December 2007, Steen set herself to live each day as healthy and happy as they had while they were together. Ernesteen Ferry is a deserving honoree, according to members of her beloved community, and epitomizes the true spirit of Woodlake as the Grand Marshal of the Woodlake Rodeo.
   Steen will reign over the Woodlake Rodeo Parade, which will be held Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m.

Weekly tip

   Bisphenol-A, or BPA for short, is used to make hard, clear, lightweight polycarbonate plastic — as in those virtually indestructible water bottles favored by hikers (not the disposable ones) and many baby bottles and sippy cups. It’s also found in the lining of most food and beverage cans.
   Trace amounts can migrate into foods and beverages, especially when the plastic gets hot. BPA has been used commercially since the 1950s and exposure to it is widespread in developed countries.
   A large study last year by CDC researchers found that 93 percent of people tested had the chemical in their urine — with higher amounts seen in women and children. Though much of this BPA comes from food and drink containers, other potential sources include dust, water, and soil.
   Numerous lab and animal studies have shown that BPA exposure in early life, even at low doses, causes cell and tissue changes that may have long-term consequences, such as early puberty, behavior problems, breast and prostate cancer, altered immune function, and metabolic problems. New lab research also suggests that BPA can interfere with chemotherapy treatment.
   But studies in people are limited, and what happens in animals and test tubes may not happen in humans. The potential risk for adults is particularly unclear.
   Still, in a large new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association — the largest human study to date — high levels of BPA in urine were associated with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and abnormal liver enzymes — though this does not prove that BPA is the cause.
   Though the final word on BPA is still being debated, limiting exposure makes sense, especially for young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Here’s how:

  —Instead of polycarbonate plastic water bottles, baby bottles, or sippy cups, use glass, stainless steel, or aluminum bottles. The recycle number “7” in a triangle on the bottom often indicates that the plastic contains BPA, but not always. To know for sure, check with the manufacturer.

  —Or look for other plastics. Nalgene, Camelback, and some other sports-bottle makers are switching to plastics, such as co-polyester, that do not contain BPA. It’s hoped that these substitutes are safer, though little is actually known about them. Increasingly, baby bottles and sippy cups are being made with other, presumably safer, plastics.

  —If you do use polycarbonate bottles, don’t put hot liquids in them. Heating the plastic greatly increases the release of BPA into fluids subsequently stored in it. For instance, after being filled with boiling water, polycarbonate bottles released as much as 55 times more BPA, according to a 2008 study from the University of Cincinnati. Wash such bottles by hand with mild detergents and warm (not hot) water, and never put them in the dishwasher. Keep them out of heat or sunlight (don’t store them in a car), and discard (recycle) them if they discolor or develop spider cracks. Do not put them in the microwave.

  —When possible, opt for food in jars or cartons instead of cans — or, better yet, fresh or frozen food. Acidic foods, such as tomatoes, cause more leaching of BPA from cans than other foods. Keep in mind, though, that the nutritional benefits of many canned foods (like fish, vegetables, and fruits) are definite, while the BPA risk is uncertain. If you are feeding a baby, powdered infant formula is a safer choice than canned liquid formula unless you know the cans are BPA-free (talk to your doctor before changing formula).

  —Note that disposable plastic water bottles, as well as juice and soda bottles, are typically made from polyethylene (PETE, identified by the number “1” on the bottom), which has no BPA. They are considered safe for single use. The plastic may break down with repeated use, increasing the risk that other plastic chemicals will be released, but better reason not to refill them over and over is that they can become contaminated with bacteria that are hard to clean off.


Roger Remillard
1944 ~ 2009

   Roger Francis Remillard, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Thursday, April 30, 2009, in Visalia after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 64.
   Visitation will be Monday, May 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Salser & Dillard Funeral Chapel, 127 E. Caldwell Ave., Visalia. Rosary will immediately follow at 7 p.m., also at the Salser & Dillard chapel.
Mass of Christian burial is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Burial will follow the mass at Visalia District Cemetery.
   A celebration of Roger’s life is currently being planned in Three Rivers. For information, call Sean Stehelin, 561-3624.
Roger was born Oct. 27, 1944, in North Adams, Mass., to Edgar and Beatrice Remillard. The family moved to Visalia in 1958.
   Roger attended Mt. Whitney High School, where he played football. Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during the Vietnam War and was a member of the Color Guard.
   After serving his country, he returned to Visalia and attended College of the Sequoias. He was a member of the American Legion-Post 18 in Visalia and served as commander in 1979.
   In 1991, he moved to Three Rivers for the country living. Roger had a passion for owning and working on hot rods.
   He enjoyed watching football, snow skiing, playing golf with friends in Three Rivers, and music.
   Roger is survived by the love of his life and best friend, Ruby Ritchie of Visalia; two brothers, Ernest Remillard and Robert Remillard, both of Visalia; sister Anne Ryan of Australia; and many other loving family members and loyal friends.
   Remembrances in Roger’s name may be made to the American Cancer Society, 300 N. Willis St., Visalia, CA 93291.

Jerry Nunnelee
1949 ~ 2009

   Jerry Nunnelee, a lifetime resident of Three Rivers, died Sunday, May 3, 2009, at his home after a long-term illness. He was 59.
Jerry was born in Three Rivers on Aug. 6, 1949, to Grady and Mary Nunnelee. He attended Three Rivers School, Woodlake High School, and College of the Sequoias.
   Jerry served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He was a mechanic.
   Jerry was preceded in death by his parents and brother Jamie Nunnelee.
   He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Paula Nunnelee; his children, Theresa Hudsen of Fallbrook, Cindy Howell of Three Rivers, Wendy Woods of Three Rivers, Kathy Brown of Three Rivers, Roberta McGuire of Visalia, and Jason Nunnelee of Three Rivers; grandchildren Kayla Brown, Taylor Howell, Philip Woods, Thomas Woods, Michael Howell, Leah Spurgeon, Max McGuire, and Teagan McGuire; his brothers Troy Nunnelee and Larry Nunnelee; and sisters Cathy Hamilton and Carol McKellar.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Three Rivers Union School Foundation, P.O. Box 99, Three Rivers, CA 93271.
   Private services will be held.

Donald Allen
1921 ~ 2009

   Donald Edmond Allen died Wednesday, April 22, 2009, at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, just five days after learning that he had acute leukemia. He was 87.
   The viewing is today (Friday, May 8, 6 to 8 p.m.) at Palm Memorial Sierra Chapel in Oakhurst. A graveside service will be held Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m. at Oakhill Cemetery in Oakhurst, and the funeral service will immediately follow at 11 a.m. at Mountain Christian Center in Oakhurst.
   Don was born Dec. 20, 1921, in Anniston, Ala., to Emory Sphere and Myrtle Johnson Allen. In 1938, Don married Lois Ezell and the couple had five children.
   Don served in World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge, and received a Bronze Star. He was a staff sergeant for Company C-41st Army Infantry. During the war, he was injured and spent five years in a VA hospital.
   As a vice president of construction companies, Don lived in numerous locations, including Texas; Florida; and California. Three Rivers and Oakhurst were the last two towns in which he lived while in California. For the last 10 years, he had been living in Lufkin, Texas.
Don acted as the contractor in the building of the Church at Kaweah. He did not charge for his professional services.
   Forty years ago, he built the pulpit at the church, which is still in use today. In the early 1970s, Don also served as an associate pastor at the church and, for many years, on the board of the Kaweah Christian Ranch, a boys’ rehabilitation facility.
   Throughout his career, Don built or remodeled 17 churches, never accepting any compensation. The final church he built was the Mountain Christian in Oakhurst, where he and his second wife, Patricia, were married and where his funeral service will be held.
   Don was preceded in death by his parents; siblings; two sons, Larry Allen and Ron Allen; and, in 1990, his wife of 52 years, Lois.
He is survived by his wife of 16 years, Patricia Allen; his sons and daughters-in-law Neal and Kay Allen of Turlock and Steve and Connie Allen of San Ramon; his daughter and son-in-law Neita and David Sturgill of San Clemente; two stepsons and their wives, James and Meredith Parker of Flower Mound, Texas, and John and Maggie Parker of Coppell, Texas; 29 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren with more on the way.

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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