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In the News - Friday, May 9, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Lack of spring rains

blamed for low snow totals

Sierra Nevada snow

at 67 percent of normal

   Each year on May 1, the California Department of Water Resources releases the statewide totals for the Sierra Nevada region. The statistics are important because they help all of California plan for how much or how little water they might expect to receive during the long, hot, dry summer season that’s just around the corner.
   Snowmelt from drainages like the Kaweah provide more than 50 percent of water used for agriculture and, via the California Aqueduct, much of the domestic water used in Southern California, the state’s most populous region.
   The final snow survey readings for the Sierra Nevada are below the May 1 normal at 67 percent; figures for the key measuring stations in the Kaweah drainage are just slightly below the statewide numbers at 65 percent.
   What the latest numbers mean is that for the second consecutive season the water content is well below the 30-year average. The paltry snow totals can be construed as both good news and bad. It all depends on whether your reusable water bottle is half empty or half full.
   The good news is that these totals represent more than double the runoff of last season and might signal an upward trend. That could mean that next season will be a whopper of a water year… or not.
   Take a drive across the Generals Highway from Giant Forest and you will see plenty of stubborn snow still clinging to north-facing chutes and streams gushing like there is no tomorrow. The impression that there is plenty of runoff is partly conveyed by the fact that the Kings River drainage measured a slightly better 80 percent, which means water content in a key Fresno County drainage is significantly higher than most of the other Sierra Nevada areas.
   Factor in a cooler than normal spring, meaning that the snow that is in the higher elevations has melted gradually, and that’s more good news. But according to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office, the bad news far outweighs the good.
   The Governor is concerned because 2008, one of the driest March-to-April periods on record, is coupled with the largest court-ordered water transfer restrictions in the state’s history. That’s bound to lead to a number of California communities facing the very real possibility of water shortages and mandatory rationing this summer.

  “The May 1 snow survey findings further underscore the need for action now,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger. “I have proposed a comprehensive approach that includes water conservation, more surface and groundwater storage, and new investments in our aging water infrastructure. These actions are vital to protect our environment, economy, and quality of life.”
   The Governor also said that he realizes the state legislature shares these same goals but time is running out.

  “The longer we wait; the worse our situation becomes,” Gov. Schwarzenegger said.
   A little closer to home in Kaweah Country, we get it when it comes to preserving the quality of the Kaweah River and a little conservation can go a long way… and that’s more good news.
   Be sure to take the time to go outside and enjoy the awesome water. It’s why we live here.

Gas tops $4 per gallon

in Three Rivers

   The $3.99 reading on the Shell gas sign in Three Rivers on Tuesday, May 6, was historic as it signaled the end of regular gasoline for less than $4 per gallon. One year ago, gas prices had just eclipsed $3 per gallon at the pump.

  And an ominous prediction of costs to come, the price of a barrel of crude oil broke records highs on a daily basis this past week.

Seven outfitters

to raft the Kaweah

   In April, the Tulare County Resource Management Agency announced that seven commercial river rafting companies have obtained a 2008 permit to run the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, subject to the rules and regulations of county ordinances and the Kaweah River Management Plan. Under the plan that was adopted in 1995, the following seven outfitters are permitted to operate commercial trips in the portion of the Kaweah River located between Sequoia National Park and Lake Kaweah: All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting, American River Recreation, Adventure Connection, Gold Rush Whitewater Rafting, Kaweah White Water Adventures, Whitewater Connection, and Whitewater Voyages.
According to the regulations, each commercial raft must display a visible company logo. Frank Root, who guides the only locally-owned firm and has been offering commercial trips on the Kaweah since 1995, said he is experiencing some heavy booking for the next several weekends and is planning for plenty of river traffic this season.

  “With a solid Sierra snowpack still holding in the higher elevations, we should be able to offer commercial rafting trips through July,” Root said. “Our headquarters this season will be on the Middle Fork adjacent to the Buckaroo, and walk-ins are always welcome. We’ll find a seat and a paddle as soon as the next trip.”

3R teen broadsides pickup

   As if a high school senior in her last few weeks of school before graduation didn’t have enough to occupy her thoughts while driving to school, suddenly a pickup truck up ahead decides to make a U-turn. Evidently, that was the scenario that a 17-year-old Three Rivers driver found herself in on her Wednesday morning commute to Woodlake High School.
   The driver, who was headed westbound in a 1996 Isuzu Trooper, had only an instant to react before colliding with a 1983 Chevrolet Silverado pickup driven by Dina Gonzalez-Sanchez, 45, of Tulare. From information gathered from witnesses at the scene, Sanchez was also driving westbound when she apparently turned toward the eastbound traffic lane of Highway 198 between Pierce Drive and the Slick Rock area.
   The Isuzu broadsided the pickup, sending both vehicles careening off the roadway. The Isuzu rolled at least once and ended up in a ditch, and both vehicles were extensively damaged. The highway was closed in both directions as emergency personnel cleared the scene.
   The Three Rivers driver and passenger in the Isuzu had minor injuries and declined treatment at the scene. The pickup’s driver was transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia with moderate injuries. Although the accident is still under investigation by the CHP, Officer Mark Berlin indicated that an unsafe turn was a factor in the cause of the crash.

Crystal Cave opens this weekend

   There are more than 250 caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, but just one that’s open for the public to explore. Operated by the Sequoia Natural History Association for the past 25 years and open for public tours since the 1930s, Crystal Cave will unlock its spider-web gate on Saturday, May 10, for the 2008 season.
   Tours will be conducted daily through October. Tickets for a Crystal Cave tour must be purchased in advance and are not available at the cave.
   Buy tickets at least an hour-and-a-half in advance at the Foothills Visitor Center near the Sequoia National Park entrance or up the hill at the Lodgepole Visitor Center.
   To access the cave, leave the Generals Highway at the Crystal Cave Road (about 15 miles from the Sequoia entrance station). From here, it’s a six-and-a-half-mile drive to the parking lot. Then it’s a half-mile walk downhill to the cave.
   Located at an elevation of 4,600 feet, the weather can be quite warm, especially on the hike back to the parking lot. But always bring a jacket as the temperature in the cave is a constant 50 degrees.
   GREEN UNDERGROUND— This past winter, SNHA was awarded a $211,000 grant by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a portion of which will be used to install a solar-power generation system and efficient lighting. The conversion to solar power will eliminate the usage of a power system that requires large propane tanks filled with liquefied petroleum that create exhaust when combusted, which affects both air and water quality.
   The lighting system inside Crystal Cave is essential when providing public tours, but it will now be updated to a more efficient method and reduced to be less intrusive for both the human experience and the protection of the cave’s natural ecosystem.
                                                * * *
   In addition to the daily tours, there are other, more challenging excursions available to explore Crystal Cave — the Wild Cave Tour and the Discovery Tour.
   Visit www.sequoiahistory.org for more information on how to best experience this exceptional underground world.

Woodlake Rodeo reminiscent

of the best of the wild, wild West

   From humble beginnings in the 1950s as a roping featuring local cowboys and family picnics, and thanks to the vision of a cowboy named Johnny Jackson, today the Woodlake Rodeo is among the premier ranch rodeos in the country. In 1957, Jackson came to Woodlake and soon persuaded the Woodlake Lions to expand their scope and give a real ranch rodeo a go.
   John L. “Johnny” Jackson (1925-1998) was a rodeo competitor, rodeo stock contractor, and rodeo announcer. Some say, due to his gift of oration and golden voice, he was the best rodeo announcer that ever lived.
   Johnny announced more than 700 rodeos in seven states. He epitomized the cowboy way. He told cowboy jokes, spoke the lingo, wore cowboy clothes, and walked the walk.
   Jackson’s ranch in Elderwood, just north of town, with its gentle slopes, fresh air, and fruit trees was the place he called home. His ranch was immortalized on the big screen as the western setting for the feature film J.W. Coop starring Cliff Robertson.
   But the enduring legacy of the Jackson Ranch for the Woodlake community began in 1958 when in partnership with the Woodlake Lions Club Jackson saw his dream of his very own ranch rodeo become a reality. In addition to forming the first rodeo board of directors, Johnny produced and announced the Woodlake Lions Club Rodeo for 37 years.
   In producing a quality rodeo, Johnny was well acquainted with the essential ingredients of success. A quality rodeo, Johnny believed, had to have some distinguished entertainment, including, but not limited to, an air stunt act, parachute jumping, trick riding, trick roping, horses, and clowns in a non-stop succession sprinkled with specialty acts and, for good measure, a well-known musician or two.
Regardless of its value as entertainment, the heart and soul of the rodeo is its cowboy competition, recognized as a sanctioned event by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). With that official stamp on the event, Jackson guaranteed the success of Woodlake’s two-day gathering.
   Johnny retired from producing and announcing in 1995 and served as Grand Marshal of the rodeo in 1996. This year that honor belongs to Frank Ainley, a lifelong Woodlake booster, cattleman, retired Woodlake High teacher and coach, and an Elderwood neighbor of Jackson’s.
   Three generations of Ainleys have been intimately involved in the Woodlake Rodeo. In 1953, Barbara Ainley, wife of Frank, was the rodeo’s first queen. Frank’s granddaughters, Corinne and Audra, also reigned as queens in 2001 and 2003, respectively.
   Mindy Garrison, a senior at Exeter High School, is the 2008 Woodlake Rodeo Queen.

  “The Woodlake Rodeo is great fun for the entire family and features some of the best cowboys on the circuit,” said Lynne Arnold, Woodlake Rodeo publicist. “The cowboys really like to hang out in Elderwood and Three Rivers. The peaceful setting here is a nice change from the big-city arenas on the pro-rodeo circuit.”
   The Woodlake Lions Club eventually purchased 37 acres of the Jackson Ranch, preserving Johnny Jackson’s dream and guaranteeing a family fun-filled weekend for all.

Cinco de Mayo royalty

   An annual tradition during Woodlake Western Week is the community’s Cinco de Mayo Festival, a daylong celebration held at Miller Brown Park. The holiday commemorates a victory of Mexican forces over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.
   The crowning of the Cinco de Mayo Queen is a highlight of the Festival. The contest is open to junior and senior girls at Woodlake High School and based on ticket sales for the nonprofit Deportivo Ivanhoe, a recreational sports organization.
   This year, six young Woodlake women vied for the coveted crown: Samantha Garcia, Elizabeth Martinez, Cynthia Ramirez, Karen Contreras, Clara Villalpondo, and Daisy Silva.
   At the Festival, Sam Garcia, a senior at Woodlake High School, was crowned Cinco de Mayo Queen 2008-2009. Sam sold 1,800 tickets at $1 apiece. As a result of her efforts, Sam will be awarded 50 percent of the ticket sales — $900 — as a college scholarship.
   Three Rivers residents may have met Sam at the Sequoia Cider Mill, where she was formerly a waitress. She will begin working as a cashier at First Choice Foods in Woodlake next week.
   After graduation, Sam will continue her education at the College of the Sequoias, then transfer to California State University at Stanislaus. She plans a career as a high school history teacher.
See Queen Sam and all the Cinco de Mayo contestants as they ride in the Woodlake Rodeo Parade tomorrow (Saturday, May 10), beginning at 10 a.m. along the main street of Woodlake.

Arts Alliance sponsors

Redbud art contest

   For the past four years, the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers has sponsored an art contest for eighth graders at Three Rivers School. The top four winners receive a cash prize and a ribbon. All of the entries, including the winning works of art, will be on display at this weekend’s Redbud Festival.
   This year’s winners are: Kelly McGinnis, first place, for her Toucans and Butterfly creation; Ashley Kambourian, second place, Single Toucan; Paulina Giacomelli, third place, Giraffes; Lorraine Weaver, honorable mention, Tree.

Sequoia Mountain Healers

CranioSacral Therapy:
Unwinding from the inside out

by Charlene Natoli

   At the end of a long day have you ever felt the need to “unwind”? We accumulate tension in our bodies over the course of days, weeks, months and, yes, even years.
   When we take time to relax and unwind, our minds and bodies release the thoughts and tensions of the day. We are then able to be more open and relaxed, which allows for mental, emotional, and physical rejuvenation.
   However, when our accumulated stress overwhelms the body’s natural ability to unwind itself, the body holds tension patterns within the muscles, joints and connective tissues. We may experience limited flexibility and mobility in addition to myriad other symptoms. The natural process of unwinding is truly a necessity as we move through our daily lives.
   CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY is a healing bodywork that assists in the natural unwinding process. The term “CranioSacral” refers to the cranium (head) and the sacrum (tailbone), which are skeletal components of the central nervous system. Monitoring the minute activity of these bones provides feedback regarding tension patterns throughout the body as well as within the central nervous system.
Through skilled light touch, CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY assists the body in unwinding itself from the inside out by facilitating the release of tension deep within the body. There is improved blood flow to the muscles and tissues of the body, improving flexibility and comfort of our spinal column, muscles, and joints. There is also improved circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid, which provides nutrition to the brain and spinal cord.
   Since CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY accesses the central nervous system, the relaxation process occurs on a very deep level. As the body regains its freedom of movement, we regain a fresh outlook that allows us to live life from a more comfortable and joyful space. Our mind, body and spirit connection is restored.
   CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY helps many different symptoms that we may experience, including migraines and headaches, neck and back pain, shoulder or joint pain, TMJ dysfunction, post-traumatic stress syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and emotional issues. It is a gentle and effective way to nurture our bodies for both long-term issues as well as everyday run-of-the-mill stress.
   Never underestimate the power of downtime. It opens our bodies to an optimal and natural state of being. Happy unwinding!
   For more information, contact Charlene Natoli, RN, at the Wellness Center, 41695 Sierra Drive in Three Rivers or call 786-3358.
    This article is published as part of the Sequoia Mountain Healers series to encourage and support health and wellbeing within the local and global community. The SMH mission is to create opportunities for enhancing health and wellbeing, encourage and promote diverse healing services, and to provide a network for health and wellbeing professionals.

Weekly update by the

Sequoia Foothills

Chamber of Commerce

Chamber’s mission, vission, values

   Since establishing itself as a local, state and federally recognized organization in 2006, the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce has grown to over 100 members representing all facets of the local business community. In January 2008, the board of directors participated in a strategic planning retreat to determine the core purposes of the organization and how to best meet, market, and augment the business needs of Three Rivers and surrounding gateway communities.
   The SFCC board of directors is proud to share some of the results from this retreat. The initial part of this process is where the Chamber determines the big picture. Here, the chamber's mission, vision, and values will lay the foundation for all its activities and guide the future direction of the organization.
   Mission: Simply put, the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to promote the economic wellbeing of our member businesses in Three Rivers and nearby communities.
   Vision: Looking toward the future, when the Chamber is successful at achieving its mission, their efforts will positively affect the region. By taking a look at what “success” might look like, the chamber envisions the following:
   Three Rivers and the surrounding communities become a nationwide example of a thriving national park gateway community that is also seen as its own destination. Year-round stability for all businesses results in a healthy economy and a positive quality of life, where residents live, work and shop locally, and visitors to the area leave with a favorable impression of an exciting, successful, and enjoyable gateway community.
   In addition to envisioning what this region will look like two decades from now, the Chamber also examined what kind of organization it would like to be at that time and created a vision for itself:
   The SFCC is a model for other chambers of commerce and consulted regularly for its expertise in organizing, promoting, and uniting diverse factions that comprise any local business region. Leadership through a diverse board of directors and professional staff and a strong presence in a community visitor center results in the chamber being the primary resource for businesses, partners, residents, and visitors.
   Values: Efforts to achieve the chamber’s mission and vision are grounded in core values for the organization. Although there are many important principles that guide our work, the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce emphasizes the following values as core to our efforts:

  —Belonging to a Community: We are an integral part of our community, serving as a resource for businesses and residents while contributing to the quality of life in the region in a positive manner.

  —Providing Outstanding Service: We provide exceptional and efficient service to our members, partners, residents, and area visitors while encouraging the same in our members’ relationships with their own constituents.

  —Inspiring Others: Our passion for the long-term economic health, stability, and stewardship of the region inspires and energizes others to join in our efforts.

  —Collaborating with Partners: We cooperate and collaborate with a wide diversity of business, agency, nonprofit, and industry partners.
   By laying a foundation grounded in the mission, vision and values, the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce can chart the course of how it will operate for many years to come.
   Next in this process is finalizing goals and objectives, which determines work plans and budgets. These steps will enable the Chamber to more effectively promote all parts of the business community and create an economically-stable region enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.


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