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A supplement to The Kaweah Commonwealth weekly newspaper because all the news that's fit to print, or all the news that causes fits, doesn't always fit within the confines of 12 pages. Join us in the dialog. Write about Three Rivers news, issues, lifestyles, experiences, and so much more.



In the News - Friday, MAY 19, 2006


The Kaweah River's Middle Fork during Spring 2006 runoff.




Campaign Night

highlights race

for sheriff

  As Kaweah Country braces for the summer season and its annual surge in local crime, voters will have the unique opportunity to see and hear from two candidates who want to be Tulare County’s top cop. On Monday night, incumbent Sheriff Bill Wittman and the challenger, John Zapalac, Woodlake’s police chief, will face off in the McDowall Auditorium at Three Rivers School. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. The evening’s program will begin at 7:30 p.m.
   Locals, Tulare County voters, and members of the media are invited to attend the Commonwealth’s CAMPAIGN NIGHT 2006 to learn about the current and future state of law enforcement in Tulare County.

  “What’s really newsworthy about the Three Rivers event is that this is the only date when both candidates will be featured together prior to the June 6 election,” said Chuck Glenn, a Visalia media specialist with the Zapalac campaign.
   The candidates’ forum will include a statement by each and then some alternating questions that both will have the opportunity to answer. Sheriff Wittman, his campaign supporters have maintained, is running on his record. The Zapalac camp says it’s time for a change and that the outlying areas of the county like Three Rivers are underserved.
   Prior to the sheriff’s program, there will be brief presentations on how a number of Three Rivers residents are literally taking the law into their own hands by becoming VIPs (Volunteers in Patrol), members of Tulare County Search and Rescue, and a local citizen corps that is training under the direction of the Office of Homeland Security.

  “Law officers in our town have their hands full, especially during the busy holiday weekends,” said Dave King, a Three Rivers VIP who is currently training as a search-and-rescue volunteer. “With a Lake Kaweah filled to the brim and no parking… that’s an accident waiting to happen.”
   King said he is one of a group of SAR volunteers who will be certified for swift-water incidents and to search for victims up to an elevation of 7,000 feet.

  “The training we receive prepares us to spend the night with a victim in the event that someone is injured or we discover a body,” King said.
   When it comes to law-enforcement manpower, Three Rivers and other outlying areas are currently underserved. Case in point is a recent burglary that occurred on Sierra Drive.

  “What’s the use of having an alarm if it takes a deputy more than 50 minutes or an hour to respond?” asked one business owner that was victimized. “Our resident deputy must be authorized to respond during night hours.”
   That’s when the majority of crimes occur.

  “When these criminal types realize how trusting we are in Three Rivers, it’s like an open invitation,” said one Sheriff’s Department investigator.
   But there are things that every citizen can do to take a bite out of crime. Come out Monday night to be an informed voter and a part of the solution.
   Community members may submit questions for the sheriff’s candidates prior to the forum by contacting the office of The Kaweah Commonwealth (561-3627) or emailing
   Don’t be late because Uncommon A Cappella will sing their rousing rendition of the National Anthem at 7:30 p.m.

Fire season

now underway

   Fire season was officially declared Wednesday, May 17, on public lands throughout California. Due to the late-season rains, this declaration is about two weeks later than it is traditionally.
   For Three Rivers property owners, this means that the clearing of defensible space must be completed by removing hazardous dry vegetation within 100 feet of homes and other structures.
   It also means that restrictions are in place on public lands, including those managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Check in at visitor centers, ranger stations, or read area bulletin boards to be briefed on fire-safe regulations.
   The region received above-average rainfall so the drying of vegetation was postponed. However, the additional precipitation now results in an increase of grass and brush. The drying of this excess vegetation accelerated by warmer than normal temperatures during May.
   For property clearance information, call the Three Rivers Fire Station, 561-4362.

Burglary may

be reprisal

   Sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning, May 15, a person or persons smashed a rear door and entered Heart’s Desire, the Sierra Drive gift shop operating on the premises of the former Naturedome. A family member who had entered the closed business to log onto the store’s computer discovered the theft of jewelry from a display case.
   The Naturedome was the former business owned by John Bryant, who was arrested May 4 on drug and pornography charges, then discovered to have had a hidden camera in the dressing room of the shop. Bryant recently posted $250,000 bail and is awaiting trial on the felony and misdemeanor charges.
   There are also unconfirmed reports that John Bryant’s house was vandalized while he was in custody.
   From information gathered at the scene of the burglary, it appeared that some of the jewelry was dropped near the rear door and other valuables were left untouched. An identification card of a female student from a local high school was recovered at the scene.
   In an apparently unrelated theft, the phone booth in front of the Three Rivers Chevron was also stolen.

  “This theft for the $150 in change is common down in the Valley but highly unusual for Three Rivers,” said Jim Fansett, resident deputy sheriff.
   Anyone with information about these recent crimes or any criminal activity is urged to call Deputy Fansett (740-8894) or the sheriff’s dispatcher (733-6211).


TRUS receives

technology grant

   It’s a fast-changing world and to keep up, one has to stay on top of technological advancements, which means education and, of course, money. Three Rivers School has the education aspect in tow, but when it comes to upgrades and projects, funds can be a little scarce.
   Coming to the rescue are some dedicated people — from global to local.
   First of all, HP (formerly Hewlett Packard) has selected Three Rivers School as a 2006 Technology for Teaching grant recipient.    As a result, the TRUS will receive an award package valued at more than $35,000, which will supply each teacher in the third-through-seventh-grade classrooms with a variety of HP products including a Tablet PC, multimedia projector, digital camera, printer/-scanner/copier, as well as software and accessories and a $500 stipend.
   The goal of the HP grant is to support the use of technology in classrooms. This year, HP provided grants to 130 kindergarten-through-12th grade schools in 36 states and Puerto Rico that submitted a proposal to use a team-teaching approach to integrating technology into an educational project.
   TRUS plans to utilize the new equipment as part of their “Speak to the Earth” project that will allow students to explore the environmental effects on the school’s garden throughout the majority of their Three Rivers School years. Students will study temperature, precipitation, and other weather factors along with solar and lunar phases and air and soil quality.
   In addition to basic gardening techniques, students will learn scientific method, hands-on math skills, language arts, and social studies. They will also be introduced to Internet research, graphs and databases, and community service.
   So the technology is in place, the teachers are ready, students are plentiful, but there’s more. TRUS determined that to bring this project to fruition, also needed is a greenhouse, four weather stations strategically placed throughout the community, lumber to upgrade planter boxes and build new ones, and an irrigation system.
   School budgets just don’t cover this type of revolutionary, innovative teaching. But Three Rivers School is blessed with a powerful ally.
   Last Thursday, May 11, the Three Rivers Lions Club approved a request by Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent, for a donation of $10,000 to further the Speak to the Earth project.
   As a result of this undertaking, Three Rivers School also hopes to be recognized as an official weather station by the National Weather Service in Hanford.

Woodlake High

presents spring musical

Last performance for

longtime WHS director

   The Woodlake High School theatre arts department will be performing a little bit of song and a little bit of dance in its upcoming spring production entitled “A Little Bit of Broadway.”
   The musical revue will truly be a review as songs will be performed from the past 15 years of WHS productions. This year’s musical — to be performed in the Woodlake High Performing Arts Building on Friday, May 26, and Saturday, May 27 — will be the last production directed by Elizabeth LaMar.
   LaMar, a resident of Three Rivers for 20 years, breathed new life into a floundering WHS performing arts program as a drama teacher and, for the past 15 years, as the director of the all-school show, held twice each year.
   Students will perform such Broadway hits as “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from Annie Get Your Gun; “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz; “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music; “One Last Kiss” from Bye Bye Birdie; “Coffee Break” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; and more.
   A year ago, a call was put out to alumni actors who have performed in past plays. Some will be returning to take part in Saturday evening’s show during “Reunion Night”; all are invited and will be gratefully remembered for their contributions to the performing arts program at Woodlake High School during a reception following the final performance.
   The show will open on Friday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m. A matinee will be held Saturday, May 27, at 2 p.m. Saturday’s Reunion Night will begin with the performance at 7:30 p.m., immediately followed by the alumni reception.
   Tickets, available at the door, are $5 for adults and $3 for students, senior citizens, and children 10 and under.

Three Rivers

Woman’s Club

elects officers

   The Three Rivers Woman’s Club has made history and also heard about some things historical at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 3. At the top of a busy agenda was the election of new officers for 2006-2007.
   Now in their 91st year, the new slate of officers to be installed at the June 7 luncheon are: Evelyn Thompson, president; Rosemary Anderson, vice president; Kathie Boley, secretary; Charlotte Little, treasurer; and Mary Scharn and Estelle Christensen, directors.

  “This is always a busy time of year for the club because of scholarships and the annual awards that we make each May,” said Annie Hayes, outgoing president. “To see the renewed enthusiasm in serving our club and the Three Rivers community is so gratifying.”
   After the election of officers, Mary Scharn, scholarship chair, asked for and received approval of a record amount of dollars for local seniors in the Class of 2006.

  “It is an extraordinary class of students with several qualifying to attend University of California campuses, including Berkeley, Los Angeles, Davis, and Santa Barbara,” Scharn reported. “We also have local students going out of state to Marquette and Boston University.”
   The afternoon program featured a talk on the various historical projects of Jay O’Connell. O’Connell was raised in Three Rivers and now lives in Southern California where he works as a television producer.
   His real passion, he said, is for researching local history. He has published books on the area’s unique people and places and someday hopes to develop the stories of the Kaweah Cooperative Colony and Eva Evans, daughter of Tulare County’s most famous outlaw, into major motion pictures.


Beth Atherton
1911 ~ 2006

   Emma Elizabeth “Beth” Atherton, a resident of Three Rivers for nearly 65 years, died Saturday, May 13, 2006, in Visalia. She was 94.
   Beth was born Nov. 11, 1911 (or, as she liked to say, 11-11-11), in Hanford to E.J. and Ethyl Erwin Shofner. She graduated from Hanford High School.
   In 1941, Beth moved to Three Rivers where she worked as a waitress at the Noisy Water Café for 18 years. In a 2001 interview in The Kaweah Commonwealth, she remembered how mad local folks got when the price of coffee went from five to 10 cents.
   She was a member of the former Three Rivers Lady Lions, the Lady Anglers, and the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, serving as president in 1951 and 1957.
   Beth lived in her Three Rivers home until she was 92 years old. In 2004, she moved to Visalia.
   Beth was preceded in death by her husband, John Atherton, and brother William Shofner.
   She is survived by her brother, Burton Shofner, of Hanford; two sons, Richard Matteson and wife Phyllis of Visalia and Mehrten Homer and wife Glenda of Fossil, Ore.; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
   Graveside services were held yesterday (Thursday, May 18) at the Woodlake District Cemetery.

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