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In the News - Friday, June 3, 2011


See this week's front page


Woodlake High School Class of 2011

Grad photos and scholarships


Moro Rock closed to climbers

Temporary restrictions due to peregrine falcon nesting season

  All climbing routes on Moro Rock are currently closed to the public due to the fact that it is springtime and there are babies being born. In this case, it’s the rare peregrine falcons, which have been making a comeback in numbers in the last decade or so.
   The use of DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) as a pesticide resulted in a rapid decline in the peregrine falcon population. DDT and DDE (a breakdown product of DDT) cause eggshell thinning, resulting in the eggshell breaking while being incubated. Many species of birds were adversely affected by this widespread use of DDT, also notable are the California condor and bald eagle.
   Since the ban on DDT in the 1970s, peregrine falcon populations have recovered significantly. The peregrine falcon was de-listed from the federal Endangered Species list in 1999, but remain protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
   Peregrine falcons historically nested on Moro Rock and they have since returned. Peregrine falcons mate for life and breed in the same territory each year, making their nests on ledges and in small caves located high on cliffs and rock faces.
   But climbers, don’t despair. The Moro Rock closure won’t last long as both the male and female peregrines incubate the eggs for about one month. Once born, the chicks eat an incredible amount of food — in six days, they double their weight; at three weeks they are 10 times their size at birth.
   The chicks start to fly in about 42 days. The babies, called eyases, are still dependent on their parents as they learn how to hunt.
   Peregrine falcons are territorial during breeding season and will vigorously defend their nests. They are sensitive to human activity around their nest area and could abandon the nest if disturbed. It is against the law to disturb the birds; offenders will be cited by a law enforcement officer.
   The popular walking route to the summit of Moro Rock remains open as weather conditions permit.

Picnic rallies Kaweah Post Office preservationists

Handcrafted table from property’s

sycamore donated by local artisan

By Brian Rothhammer

  As Memorial Day picnics were held across the nation, the Kaweah Postal Foundation hosted a picnic well attended by neighbors and friends of the historic Kaweah Post Office. The 1910 structure is a survivor and a testament to the volunteer spirit of Kaweah Country.
   The day before Monday’s picnic, a surprise gift arrived. Two years ago, an old sycamore had to be removed from the post office property. Neighbors cut it down and hauled it off.
Bob Kellogg, a stonemason and woodworker from Three Rivers, had some of the sycamore milled after seasoning the wood for two years.
   He then built a picnic table of thick six-foot planks from the old tree, finished and oiled. On top is a carving of the Kaweah Post Office.
   At the picnic, the same tree that shaded generations now served a new purpose as Kaweah Post Office preservationists gathered around and celebrated the past and planned for the future.
   It was one year ago that Kaweah’s historic post office seemed destined for the federal scrap heap. The United States Postal Service was closing dozens of rural and branch offices in an effort to economize. It was announced that May 28, 2010, would be the last day for the 10-by-12-foot rough-hewn building at Kaweah.
   The Kaweah Post Office was built in 1910 by five neighbors who pitched in $15 and their labor. When Ida Purdy became postmistress in 1926, neighbors moved the structure closer to her home.
   When the Post Office Department, and later USPS, declared it obsolete several times over the years, neighbors and friends everywhere rallied in defense of the Kaweah Post Office.
   One of the little shack’s best friends turned out to be Kathleen McCleary. When Kathleen relocated from Southern California, she found an ideal place in Kaweah to retire and enjoy country living. The Kaweah Post Office came with the property she had acquired, and she was paid a $75 per month lease by USPS.
   While the USPS did cancel the CPO (Contract Postal Office) status in May 2010, in June of that year Kathleen was able to negotiate a limited CPU (Contract Postal Unit) status for Kaweah Post Office. Box holders still receive mail (through antique brass and beveled glass doors) as they have for decades, but outgoing mail is forwarded to and postmarked at the Three Rivers station.
   Without USPS paid or contracted staff, the window is staffed by volunteer Carol Jones on weekdays from noon to 1 p.m.

  “Now that we are under the minimal umbrella of [USPS], we rely on volunteers and donations for the continued operation, maintenance, and upkeep of the Kaweah Post Office,” said Kathleen.
   There is still a limited offering of merchandise from the October 2010 Centennial Celebration for sale at the window, along with postage stamps, Kathleen said.
   A host of neighbors have pitched in to help lately, so the now annual Memorial Day picnic has become another way to say thanks and keep the quaint little post office in the hearts and minds of Kaweah Country residents.
   To offer services or donations that will assist with the preservation of the Kaweah Post Office, contact: Kaweah Postal Foundation, P.O. Box 14, Kaweah, CA, 93237.

Tulare County Fire responds

to Memorial Day medical aid

  Engine 14 from the Three Rivers station responded Monday morning, May 30, to a report of a man lying by the side of the road at 43270 Sierra Drive. Once on-scene, emergency personnel found a 45-year-old male who was unresponsive and appeared to be suffering from chest pain.
   A report from a party who lives near the scene said the man was found near his bicycle and might have taken a spill.
   The victim declined to be transported via American Ambulance to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia.

Memorial Day commemoration in Three Rivers

  A large crowd gathered at Three Rivers Cemetery on Memorial Day 2011, including many veterans who were introduced and honored. Gary Whitney presided over the service that honored the three men — Orlen Loverin, Donald Brewer, Howard Liddell — from Three Rivers who died during World War II. A plaque with their names was unveiled by family members, Sophie Britten, representing the Loverin family, and siblings Barbara (Brewer) Ainley and Leon Brewer.

Easy ways to entertain the kids this summer

  No need to keep the kids in front of the TV or computer this summer. There is plenty for them to do out and about in town that will expand their horizons and stimulate their senses.
   OUR PLACE PLAYSCHOOL— No scheduled activities are held during the summer months, however, preschoolers and their parents still will meet at the playground adjacent to the Three Rivers Library each Friday at 10:30 a.m.
   Kids should wear a swimsuit, bring a towel, and be ready for some seriously fun water play. There will be slides and pools and, for the parents, two new sunshades to provide respite from the sun and preschool frivolity.
   This activity is free and open to all preschool-aged children.
   SUMMER READING PROGRAM— Inside at the Three Rivers Library, the annual Summer Reading Program is beginning its Summer 2011 chapter.
   Also held on Fridays at 10:30 a.m., all children are welcome to sit in on the fun (don’t tell them that they’ll probably learn something too!). For instance, next Friday (June 10), Danielle Belen will kick off the program with her “Violin Stories,” and it’s a sure bet that she won’t be all about reading... there has definitely got to be some music involved in this presentation.
   The Summer Reading Program will continue through July 22. It is free and open to all.
   VACATION BIBLE SCHOOLS— There are usually two separate Bible schools held in Three Rivers: one at the First Baptist Church, another at Community Presbyterian Church. This week, FBC announced the dates of theirs: Monday-Friday, June 20-24, from 9 a.m. till noon.
   Again, VBS is always free and kids from ages five to 10 are welcome to participate. Older children are also always needed to assist and, as a result, they earn community service hours, a requirement around these parts for those in eighth grade and high school.
   SWIMMING LESSONS— Former Three Rivers kid Breeanna Bailey will teach swimming lessons for children from age one and older.
   Group lessons are scheduled to begin Monday, June 6, but she will postpone them a week if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
   In addition, Breeanna also offers private and semi-private lessons and adult lessons. She is American Red Cross certified and has seven years of experience in teaching swimming to all age groups and skill levels.
   For more information on schedule and pricing, call 334-7930.
   CENTER STAGE STRINGS MUSIC FESTIVAL SERIES— This second annual season of performances will include several free concerts that will highlight the young musicians of the Center Stage Music Camp. Children will be absolutely mesmerized by the immense talent of these young virtuosos and may even be inspired to learn to play an instrument.
   Free concerts are scheduled for Friday, June 17, 11 a.m.; Sunday, June 19, 4 p.m.; Thursday, June 23, 7 p.m.; and Sunday, June 26, 4 p.m.
   SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK— Always an educational bargain, but there is a fee-free day scheduled for Tuesday, June 21, the first day of summer.
   There is plenty to do for families in Sequoia, including sightseeing and picnicking. Some kid-friendly hikes include Tokopah Falls (Lodgepole), Congress Trail (Giant Forest), Little Baldy, and the trails that surround Crescent Meadow.
   The snow will most likely be melted in all these locales by the official start of summer, but until then, check for conditions by calling 565-3341.

Labor camp memories evolve into scholarship fund

  From the spring 2011 Woodlake Union High School Foundation Newsletter... “With pride and purpose, the Redbanks Foundation was created to honor the legacy and richness of growing up in Redbanks, a farm labor camp.”
   In 2008, four friends who grew up in Redbanks were reflecting on the life lessons learned from living there. In the “Redbanks Camp,” they witnessed first-hand the tremendous work ethic of their family and friends.
   Although these four now-grown men — Andy Barba, George Betancur, Larry Garcia, and Joe Mesa — were raised in a community considered impoverished, they realized that it taught them the importance of family and the support of friends. In spite of the hardships endured during childhood, they are now all blessed with success in their adult lives.
   As a result, they are now assisting other Hispanic graduates of Woodlake High School who are currently being raised in circumstances similar to their own. The four friends have created the Redbanks Foundation, which for the past four years has provided scholarships to worthy WHS seniors who are determined to attain a college degree.
   All Redbanks Foundation scholarship applicants undergo a rigorous application process that includes multiple interviews. In 2008, the Redbanks Foundation raised $600 and provided one scholarship to an outstanding WHS graduate. In 2009 and 2010, they raised $1,000 and provided funds to two college-bound seniors each year.
   This year, six students from the Class of 2011 will benefit from the Redbanks Foundation’s generosity: Ana Acosta, Lourdes Campos, Jessica Carrillo, Maria Hernandez, Karina Llamas, and Carlos Rodriguez.
   Two of the founding members of the Foundation recently lost a parent. Victoria Barba, 84, Andy’s mom, passed away October 25, 2010. Two of her seven children currently reside in Three Rivers: Raymond Barba and Irene Barba. Victoria had lived in the Woodlake area since 1949.
   Jose Betancur, 82, George’s dad, died March 7, 2011. He is survived by his three children. He first came to Woodlake in 1954 where he worked for Golden State Citrus Packing for 36 years until his retirement in 1990.
   Both families requested that memorial donations be made in their parent’s name to the Redbanks Foundation Scholarship Fund. One hundred percent of all donations received are provided to students in the form of scholarships.
   To donate to the Redbanks Foundation’s worthy cause, make a check payable to Redbanks Foundation Scholarship Fund and mail to: WHS Foundation, P.O. Box 475, Woodlake, CA 93286.
   For more information, call Andy, 303-4396; George, 909-2290; Larry, 679-4938; or Joe, 696-9187.

Vaccine now available to protect dogs from rattlesnake bites

by Kelly Anez, DVM
Pacific Crest Equine

  With warmer weather comes the emergence of rattlesnakes in the foothills. A rattlesnake bite is a veterinary emergency that results in serious injury or even death to thousands of dogs each year.
   Rattlesnake venom is a complex mixture of toxins that spreads through a dog’s body following the bite. Red Rock Biologics has developed a rattlesnake vaccine that helps defend your dog by creating an immunity that works right away to help neutralize the toxins.
   This vaccine has been used by local veterinarians now for several years and the results have been positive. Although there is always some chance of a reaction with any vaccine, this vaccine has been demonstrated to be safe in most pets.
   When injected into an unprotected dog, the toxic components of snake venom are painful and can have serious consequences. Even if your dog survives the immediate effects of a rattlesnake bite, he or she can be permanently injured.
   Treatment of snakebite may include anti-venom injections, hospitalization, and intravenous fluids or other medicines. Vaccination can reduce the overall effects of snakebite, reduce or eliminate the need for anti-venom, and decrease other treatment costs as well.
   When a dog is bit, protective antibodies made by your dog in response to the vaccine start neutralizing venom immediately. On average, antibody levels in recently vaccinated dogs are comparable to treatment with three vials of anti-venom.
   This means vaccinated dogs should experience less pain and a reduced risk of permanent injury from rattlesnake bite.
   Even after your dog is vaccinated against rattlesnake venom, your pet should be taken to a veterinarian for evaluation and care as soon as possible following a snakebite. Even bites by non-venomous snakes can lead to serious infections and antibiotic treatment may be needed.
   A veterinarian can determine if your dog is sufficiently protected for the specific type of snake involved and the amount of venom injected, or whether additional medical treatment would be helpful.
   If you have any questions about this article or would like more information, please contact Pacific Crest Equine small animal in Exeter at 592-4753.

Braving the cold reaps rewards

Stormy Memorial Day weekend didn’t deter this 3R family

  When the weather turned downright wintry last weekend scores of campers packed up and headed home. But for one Three Rivers family, neither rain, sleet, snow, nor freezing cold could deter them from their holiday plans.
   Camped in the cabin of their 22.5-foot Robalo fishing boat at Shaver Lake (elevation 5,500 feet) for the Memorial Day weekend, overnight temperatures dipped into the 20s; during the day, the thermometer only reached the upper 30s with a light dusting of snow. But that didn’t keep the Fraziers from doing what they came to do — fishing.
   On Saturday, Cole Frazier, 10 years old and a fifth grader at Three Rivers School, landed a lunker rainbow trout that measured 20 inches. It was the first time that the Fraziers had ever fished Shaver.
   The prize catch was lured into biting a trolled Rapala lure.
   On Wednesday evening, in the warmth of their own home, the proud fisherman and his family feasted on grilled trout that, according to his mom, Diane, had a pinkish hue to the meat and tasted similar to salmon.
  “The catch made it all worthwhile,” Diane said.

Temporary closures scheduled
due to Sequoia resealing project

  Officials at Sequoia National Park announced several closures this week that could affect park visitors who do not plan ahead. The reason for the closures is an ongoing chip-sealing project that will preserve existing pavement in the local national park.
   Potwisha Campground will be closed Tuesday, June 7; there will be limited access at Hospital Rock on that same day. The Buckeye Flat Road will be closed both June 7 and 8.   Also on June 8, the Sycamore Service Road will be closed from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
   On July 13 through 16, the Generals Highway from Deer Ridge to Wolverton Road will be subject to additional 15-minute closures to accommodate the pavement preservation project.    Call 565-3341 for road updates.


Let the economy work; new taxes aren’t necessary

By Sen. Jean Fuller

  The current state of California’s budget crisis and the potential solutions can be easily summarized. After all of the budget actions that were taken by the Legislature in March, the state budget gap now stands at around $10 billion.
   There are those who believe the remaining gap should be closed with taxes. Then there are those like me who believe taxes will only stall our fledgling economic recovery.
   The good news is this economic recovery has led to an increase in state revenues that could go a long way toward resolving this year’s remaining budget deficit. Due to the strong economic growth, we currently have $6.6 billion more than was forecast.
   With this additional revenue, we can avoid any further cuts to schools and restore critical funding to law enforcement that was cut in recent years.
   Additionally, revenue projections remain strong for the foreseeable future. Solid revenue growth will take us from roughly $88 billion in projected tax revenues in 2010-2011 to $108 billion in projected revenues in 2015-2016. The worst thing we could do is get in the way of this recovery by imposing additional taxes.
   But even in light of this new revenue, there are many who believe the tax increases imposed in 2009 need to remain in place, without enacting any reforms that change the way the state conducts its business. Further, many of these same individuals believe that not only do the 2009 tax increases need to remain in place, but other taxes, such as a tax on oil extraction, should also be imposed.
   Fortunately, AB 1326, a proposal in the legislature to impose a 12.5 percent oil extraction tax, has died for now. But in Sacramento, no proposal is ever completely dead, and certainly not the idea of an oil extraction tax, which has been around since 1955 and is something I have fought against each and every year I have been in the Legislature.
   While any new tax right now would be harmful to our economic recovery and could hurt our forecasted growth in revenues, for the Kern and Tulare counties region and the state, an extraction tax would be devastating to the jobs in the oil industry and those of supporting businesses.
   The new revenues that have come into the state as a result of the economy can help solve our budget problem this year and show that our economy is primed to take off. When it does, the projections show us that the growth in the economy can provide us with the revenue necessary to fund the critical services such as education and law enforcement without new taxes.
   Let’s not abort the economic takeoff this far down the runway by imposing new taxes or extending old ones. We need to put more money in the pockets of the taxpayers and give the economy a chance to pull us out of this recession.
   State Senator Jean Fuller (R) represents District 18, which includes Three Rivers. Her office is in Bakersfield.


A day in the life of CSS

Music camp tunes up for year two

by Bill Haxton 

  Twenty already superb young violin, cello, and viola students will converge on Three Rivers on Sunday, June 12, for two weeks of intensive instruction and practice at the second annual Center Stage Strings Music Camp.
   There is tangible excitement in the air to be sure, but these aspiring performers know full well that music camp is no walk in the park. While it’s not as rigorous as military boot camp, it’s closer than one might think.
   Founder and director Danielle Belen describes it as “Practice, lesson, chamber music, practice. Eat. Practice, practice, practice. Eat. Attend concert, sleep, get up, practice...”
   This goes on almost without a break for two full weeks.
                                                        * * *
   During camp, the official day begins with breakfast at Harrison Hall on the grounds of the Community Presbyterian Church. Unofficially, many students have already been up for awhile by then and have spent time in their rooms warming up with scales, filling the homes of their host families with music.
   At 8 a.m., the shuttle arrives. Students this year are spread out in host family homes from Cherokee Oaks to Mineral King Road; the shuttle picks them up and drops them off at the church.
   In the dining room, conversation is animated at some tables, muted at others. Not all of the talk is about music. After all, these jaw-dropping talents are also teenagers and pre-teens.
   After breakfast, the 20 students head for their practice rooms, which are located all over the church grounds: in small offices, in printer rooms, in storage rooms, in any space big enough to play the instrument without hitting a side wall with the bow.
   Practice sessions are long and demanding. Surprisingly, they require extraordinary athletic ability and a high tolerance for pain.
   Fingering and bowing techniques are unimaginably complex and refined, and repeating them over and over for hours on end produces cramps, blisters, bruises, and pinched nerves.
   The purpose for all this repetition has its analog in sport. The golf swing, the backhand in tennis, the sinking splitter in baseball do not come naturally. They are the product of years of repetitive practice until the part of the brain that governs those actions has rewired itself so completely that the motions become second nature.
   Before violin techniques are hard-wired, however, the process can be terribly frustrating. It’s not easy to replace a bad habit with a good one.
   The bad habit keeps asserting itself even though every fiber of your being says, “Don’t do it!” Sometimes, it’s all a young musician can do to keep from throwing the instrument against the wall.
   The farther a student progresses, the more demanding it becomes. This is why private lessons with inspired teachers are the heart and soul of a music camp.
   At last year’s camp, an advanced student was having trouble bowing close to the bridge. It’s here that the violin puts out its fullest sound, but it’s also the most difficult place on the strings to play.
   Slightly too much bow pressure, which Danielle calls “weight,” and slightly slow bow speed make a scratchy unpleasant sound; slightly too little bow weight, slightly too fast produces a skidding sound. Neither sound could be called music.
   The idea is not to squeeze the sound out of the strings but to draw it out, keeping the elbow low, not raised, letting the natural weight of the arm determine bow pressure.
   When everything is in perfect balance — bow weight, bow speed, and string location — the sound is magical. Then all the musician has to worry about is rhythm, intonation, fingerings, shifting, dynamics, tempo, memorization, interpretation...
   From the audience, it all looks so easy.
   For more information about the Center Stage Strings Music Camp and Festival, visit www.centerstagestrings.com. Tickets for performances are now available online and at Chump’s DVDs.




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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