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In the News - Friday, June 11, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)




Three Rivers School graduation

Photos • Awards


River access tops

town meeting agenda

By Brian Rothhammer

and John Elliott

  The audience at the Three Rivers Town Hall meeting of Monday, June 7, held at the Three Rivers Memorial Building, was as packed as the agenda was busy. After some brief announcements, Supervisor Allen Ishida opened the discussion on the evening’s hot topic: “Respectful and Safe Uses of the Kaweah River.”
   Supervisor Ishida acknowledged that the river issue is one that’s not going to go away. He introduced Nina Dong, Tulare County’s deputy counsel to provide some legal definitions.

  “Navigable waters are held by the State as a public trust up to the high water mark,” Dong stated, adding that legal uses of the main fork of the Kaweah River include “boating, fishing, bathing and kayaking up and down the river.”
   Along with the right to be in the river is the right of “free access up to the shore.” A plethora of questions followed Dong’s remarks.

  “How is the high water mark defined?” inquired Ron Turner. “Is it a 10-year high? A 20-year?”
   Another audience member asked if they should set stakes this year to identify the mark, as it is a particularly high water year. Ishida replied that it would be a “good idea,” but that it would not establish a definite high mark.

  “I understand your frustration…” replied Ishida as a flurry of questions came, expressing the difficulty of understanding a definite public access boundary.

  “This will [continue to] be an issue after they throw dirt on all of us,” he said. “Let’s see if we can establish an ordinance to define the high water mark based on past litigation.”
   When asked about access for ingress and egress, Dong replied that visitors “would need permission to pass” through private property.

  “Is there liability associated with granting access to the river… if someone starts a fire?” asked an audience member.
   Answers became more difficult as the questions became more specific.
   Diana Glass explained that the problem increases exponentially with each passing year

  “It’s adults, kids, campfires, noise... Is it legal?” she asked.
   Glass said it is her understanding that much of the river activity is in reality a code-enforcement issue, explaining that to continually host a family gathering on one’s own property would involve special-use permits.
   Several owners of riverfront property related incidents of littering, sanitation issues, drug and alcohol use, and other flagrant violations of law and respect. The lack of law enforcement presence has many feeling uneasy as the belligerence of some visitors has escalated recently. Ishida indicated that the Sheriff’s Department increases the local patrol from one resident deputy to at least two deputies during the peak river season.
   As the discussion came to focus on the riverfront property owned by Southern California Edison — known as Edison Beach or Big Rock — Jim Kennard, manager of the Kaweah-Tule Eastern Hydro Division, addressed the gathering.

  “This is my fifth year on the job here… and it has been a balancing act between closing it off and keeping it open for public use,” he said. “We are closing [Edison Beach] on the three holiday weekends at this point. The best solution I’ve seen so far is the residents policing the area.”
   Kennard said it is not the company’s desire to close the area.

  “I get many calls from members of the community begging us not to close it.” Kennard said. “If we did, good people would have to pay for the behavior of bad people. I have posted basic site visitation rules at the site. If you witness violations, please call law enforcement.”
   Several residents of the Dinely Drive/Kaweah River Drive areas expressed concern over the fact that the road becomes impassable to emergency vehicles or for rapid evacuation due to its blockage by illegally parked vehicles. Richard Fletcher, a retired CHP officer, suggested that violators be immediately towed, which drew a round of applause.
   In summation, Ishida identified the issues as resource management, code compliance, high water mark access, and who can access the Kaweah River.

  “As a Supervisor, I get a copy of every [code compliance] complaint in the county.”
   One suggestion Ishida offered was the compiling of a guide on how the code compliance process works. He also mentioned that parks’ money is available. A place designated for river access could potentially alleviate some of the pressure on over-used swimming holes like Slicky and Edison Beach.
   The regular monthly town meetings, sponsored by the Village Foundation, will take a hiatus for the summer. For more information about the Village Foundation or to place an item on a future agenda, call Marge Ewen at 561-0123.
   Next week: Non-native thistle — yellow star, Italian, and more — another topic discussed at the recent town meeting. Who to call and what to do about this invasive problem.

Sheriff Wittman re-elected

Voter turnout at record low

  The June 8 primary election attracted one of lowest voter turnouts ever in Tulare County, although the final tally won’t be known for another week while officials count thousands of absentee ballots. The assessor’s race is still too close call.
   Not so in the race for Sheriff-Coroner where incumbent Bill Wittman won decisively over challenger John Zapalac (64 to 35 percent). The low voter turnout, which generally favors incumbents, might have sealed the fate for Zapalac, who experienced another disappointing loss.
   The 2010 race for county sheriff was eerily similar to 2006. Wittman won that election with 65 percent of the vote countywide although he failed to win in Three Rivers.

  “I am very excited about my next four years as Sheriff,” Wittman said. “It is going to be tough times. The department, like any business, is struggling right now to make ends meet but we’re going to make it.”
   One local voter said she was impressed by the show of force during the recent visit of the Hell’s Angels to Three Rivers.

  “We just wanted to make it perfectly clear who’s in charge here in case there was any trouble,” Wittman said.
   Another local voter said they supported Chief Zapalac because he would be more responsive to the needs of Three Rivers.

  “I want to keep working this and I’m going to keep the pressure on until we win,” Zapalac said. “I’m disappointed, especially with the low voter turnout, but we’re doing fine. My supporters are still here and we won’t give up.”
   In other races, Roland Hill held a slim lead over Ron Medlock for County Assessor. That winner won’t be called until all the absentee ballots are counted.
   Steve Worthley, the incumbent supervisor from District 4 that includes Woodlake, must face a November runoff against challenger Brian Rouche. Rouche, a 32-year-old newcomer, is seeking to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment fueled by the fact that the Board of Supervisors voted themselves a pay raise while laying off employees.
   Proposition 14, which advocated the reinstatement of the open primary, won approval by voters statewide. Voters can now vote in the primary election for any candidate for a congressional or state elective office without regard to the political party affiliations of either the candidate or the voter.
   The win was viewed as a rare political victory for outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who helped finance the campaign.

  “We are now a step closer to bringing real accountability to government and putting people back in charge of the politicians,” said Schwarzenegger in a statement issued on election night.
   A rundown on how Three Rivers voted compared to Tulare County and statewide will be published when figures are made available by the Tulare County Elections Department.

In brief...

   Still no sign of Mark Burgess, missing since May 30 after he was ejected from a boat in which he was a passenger at Lake Kaweah. Burgess and four others in the boat and two jet skiers were all pitched into the water in an attempt to avoid a collision just outside the no-wake zone in Greasy Cove. All made it to safety except for Burgess.
   The Sheriff’s Department pulled divers off the search on Wednesday, June 2, but continue to search the lake utilizing a helicopter. Burgess, 46, is the owner of a Tulare contracting business and the father of three.

Cause of death
   Larry Christopher Gentry, the hiker whose body was found in Wolverton Creek during Memorial Day weekend, died of a pulmonary embolism. That was the cause of death as determined by the Tulare County Coroner.
   Gentry, 55, from Clearwater, Fla., was experienced in the backcountry and apparently hiking off trail when he suffered a fall. His body was discovered approximately one-half mile from the Wolverton parking area in Sequoia National Park.

Park fires

   At least three fires were reported in the local national parks during the busy Memorial Day weekend, none of which caused any major damage. Two were vehicle fires and one was a cabin at Wilsonia.
   The cabin fire started in the chimney and spread to the walls. Grant Grove firefighters had to lay a hose line over snow to save the building.

Helitack turns 50
   The Ash Mountain Helibase and Recreation Hall will be hosting an open house and reunion on Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to noon.  The local national parks are celebrating 50 seasons of helitack operations.
   The term helitack was first used in a newspaper article in 1956 describing a helicopter’s initial attack during a wildfire. The parks’ chopper responds to fires and works in search-and-rescue operations, law enforcement, and other backcountry services.
Information/directions: 565-4212.

Kaweah Post Office
   Limited mail service will continue while plans are in the works to celebrate the centennial of the historic post office later this year.  Currently, reported Kathleen McCleary, owner of the property, there is a wooden Indian in the window but it is her hope that window service can be restored soon.

  “One thing you can do to help is rent a box at the Kaweah Post Office,” McCleary said at Monday’s town meeting.
   During the recent threatened closure, postal officials cited an annual loss of revenue of $2,000. Renting more boxes would help offset that deficit, McCleary said.

Water works
   Park officials expect to have the water systems at Cold Spring Campground and in West Mineral King fully operational by June 26. Snow has hampered maintenance to the system and caused one of the latest season openings in more than a decade.


Journalism gets the axe at WHS

by Kathryn Keeley


The Tiger Times

  Unfortunately, the June 2010 edition of The Tiger Times is very likely the last issue of Woodlake High School’s newspaper. Due to school budget cuts, the elective is being cut, saving the school $2,252 annually. Woodlake High’s journalism staff and I believe that this cut will do more harm than it will help.
   I like to think that The Tiger Times gets everybody both literally and figuratively on the same page. The paper communicates to the community what is going on at our high school and conveys to the students what is happening outside of our little town.
   The Tiger Times is the heart of Woodlake High School. It showcases to the world the character of WHS students. The newspaper gives the school a pulse, highlighting the rhythm of the people and the beat of the place. It is in this way that The Tiger Times captures the unique life and times of all those who attend and shares these stories with Woodlake and Three Rivers.

  “It’s unfortunate that the class is being cancelled because it’s grown and matured over the years,” said Adrianna Plascencia, journalism advisor. “It’s a vital source of information that links the community to the school.”
   Not only does the newspaper benefit the school and the community, it also helps students become better writers. It allows students’ voices to be heard and acknowledged.

  “One great thing about Woodlake is the great variety of opportunities it offers, especially considering how small a school it is,” said Holly Gallo, a former editor-in-chief of The Tiger Times. “The school newspaper is one of those fantastic and unique opportunities, one that allows students to not only learn valuable life and professional skills, but also to be creative. It gives them a voice, a chance to explore their interests outside of mere classroom assignments.”
   In fact, throughout California, there has been a 14 percent drop in high school journalism programs. That is 200 fewer than there were 10 years ago! They are continuing to drop, and my staff and I find this very sad as it is a major part of our school.

  “Tiger Pride is not a concept reserved exclusively for certain aspects of Woodlake High, but truly a cumulative force, representative of all that this school has to offer,” said last year’s editor-in-chief Jordan Vieira. “It encompasses the many doings of our students and beyond, extending to the alumni who continue to act as part of our family.   However, one aspect of Tiger Pride, which stands above all others, is the administration’s commitment to preparing our students for the complexities of a fragile and uncertain future. It is hypocritical to the ideals and mission statement of Woodlake High, and I fully support a move to reinstate the program.”
   At Jordan’s suggestion, I would like to propose to the students of Woodlake High School that we start a Journalism Club. Many of the current reporters from The Tiger Times staff, as well as other students, see the value in journalism and may be interested in continuing with this amazing program.
   Possibly, with the help and support of John and Sarah Elliott, publishers/editors of Three Rivers’s newspaper The Kaweah Commonwealth, and other community members, we could make this a reality. The 2010 WHS journalism team and I sincerely believe that we can accomplish this important task.
   We need to grow closer to each other in this community by keeping everyone informed! Emailing any thoughts or suggestions to kathryn.keeley@gmail.com would be appreciated!
   With your help, we, the journalism staff and I, believe that The Tiger Times will once again thrive.
  Kathryn Keeley of Three Rivers just completed her junior year at WHS.


World violinists to perform 3R concerts

by Bill Haxton

  This Sunday, nine prodigy violinists arriving from as far away as Bulgaria and Korea will check in with Center Stage Strings and take up their housing assignments for an intensive week of study with the best violin teachers in the world. One or more of these exceptional talents may well become the next Itzhak Perlman or Anne-Sophie Mutter.
   That’s the hope of Danielle Belen, creator of Center Stage Strings, and Robert Lipsett, violin master at the internationally renowned Colburn School of Music.
   But there’s more. Danielle and Robert have arranged a series of public concerts throughout the week-long camp. Really, really good concerts featuring world-class musicians.
   On Tuesday, June 15, at 7 p.m., the mesmerizing violinist William Hagen, 17, who has performed with major orchestras across the United States, will perform Johannes Brahms’s passionate Sonata No. 3 with Julliard graduate Jennie Jung accompanying on piano, followed by J.S. Bach’s soaring Sonata for solo violin in G minor.
   Will is quickly emerging as one of the most talented violinists of his generation. He first soloed with orchestra when he was nine years old and has since enjoyed numerous solo engagements with ensembles across the country. The Salt Lake Tribune described Will as playing “with the heart of a poet, creating elegant, lyrical phrases and spine tingling tones.” He plays a Nicolò Amati violin, handcrafted by that violin-making genius in 1665.
   On Thursday, June 17, at 7 p.m., the 13-year-old phenomenon Simone Porter will astonish even the most seasoned music lover. She has already performed with the Royal Philharmonic in London, and after her performance in Three Rivers she will travel to Singapore to perform in the “Prodigies of the World” series.
   For the past eight years, Simone has studied at the prestigious Margaret Pressley Violin Studio in Seattle and more recently she has been flying once a week to Los Angeles to study with Colburn’s Robert Lipsett. Simone has soloed with many orchestras, has performed at Carnegie Hall, and in April 2008 opened a ceremony to honor the Dalai Lama.
   On Friday, June 18, at 4 p.m., violin master teacher Robert Lipsett, regarded by many as the foremost teacher of violin on earth, will present a master class to three exceptional violinists. If you have never sat in to observe a master class, it shouldn’t be missed. The insight into what it takes to become a professional musician will astound you. And the music will be wonderful.
   On Saturday, June 19, at 7 p.m., the brilliant “Center Stage Strings Trio” will present Beethoven’s dynamic Piano Trio in D Major, one of his most personal and revealing works, followed by Brahms Trio in B Major, a musical portrait of magnanimity and devotion so vivid men and women have been known to involuntarily fall into prayer. All members of the Trio are professional musicians. Danielle Belen has won a national violin competition. Cellist Diego Miralles has performed with Yo Yo Ma and Sting. Jennie Jung is a recorded and prizewinning collaborative pianist.
   On Sunday, June 20, at 5 p.m., the Finale Concert will feature riveting solos and chamber music, followed by an Artists’ Reception that is open to the public.
   All performances will be presented at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers, 43410 Sierra Drive. All concerts are free except Saturday, admission $10. Tickets are available at Chump’s Videos & DVDs.
   For more information, visit www.CenterStageStrings.com.
Bill Haxton is a resident of Three Rivers and assisted with the organization of the Center Stage Strings camp in Three Rivers.

Food pantry is beneficiary of 'Bathtub Race'

  On Saturday, March 27, a “Bathtub Race” charity fundraiser was the final event in the three-month-long Heroes Appreciation Months, sponsored by the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce. At the event five teams competed to be the one that could make a bathtub float the longest in Lake Kaweah.
   Teams raised funds for their favorite community-service organization. The winning team received all the funds for their charity.
   The team representing the Three Rivers Bread Basket was the ultimate winner. Last month, a check for $1,015,41 was presented by SFCC to the local food pantry.



  I embarked on a road trip recently with my two college-aged kids Devon and Julia to Colorado for a family reunion. It was a lot of fun driving together, playing car games, staying at a quaint little bed-and-breakfast in a small mountain town, and eating well-prepared, car-friendly food.
   When driving through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, the monotony of the open road can lend to some pretty boring moments. There are only so many times you can play Slug Bug or create anagrams from road signs.
   So what better way to break it all up than to chow down on some good eats? Food always has the potential for adventure, in my opinion.
I’m not big on stopping at fast food joints or gas station marts for junk food to fill the hunger gap that can leave one with a hangover of sorts the next day. And since exercise is non-existent in a car, healthy eating is key.
   It took me a while to figure out what to make. I wanted it to be healthy, easy to prepare and clean up, budget-friendly, and satisfying.
   The recipes at right are what I came up with, paired with a variety of fresh produce, and last but never least, lots of water.
   We did stop for ice cream, however. Ice cream is a must, no matter what.
   Bon Appetit!

2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), boiled until soft then mashed.
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Greek olives, diced
2 small green onions, diced
1 large celery stick, diced
1/2 large red pepper, diced
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/8 cup diced bread-and-butter pickles (optional, but I like the contrast with the pungent olives and a touch of sweet from the pickle)
Salt to taste and a dash of
fresh-ground pepper
Spread on crackers, rice cakes, or whole grain bread. Add lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes, if desired.

Baby carrots
Celery sticks
Cherry tomatoes
Broccoli bits
Sugar snap peas or green beans
Cucumber coins

1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
2 tbs. cream cheese, softened
2 tbs. Good Seasons Italian dressing mix or any fresh herbs in season.
(If using herbs, remember to salt. Do not add salt if you use dressing mix.) Whip everything together until creamy.

In equal parts, raw or roasted:
Pine nuts
Sunflower seeds
Golden raisins
Dried mango, diced
Dried pineapple, diced
Dried plums or apricots, diced

3/4 cup raw cacao powder
1¼ cups almond meal
1 cup coconut butter (melted)
1/2 cup raw honey
Golden raisins, goji berries, or shaved dried coconut may also be added to these before rolling into balls.


Sarah Lahmann

1974 ~ 2010 

  Sara Elizabeth Lahmann of Three Rivers died Friday, June 4, 2010, at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia due to a degenerative disease. She was 35.
   Sara was born Oct. 21, 1974, in Visalia. She was a sixth-generation Tulare County native.
   Sara was a graduate of Golden West High School in Visalia and earned an AA degree from College of the Sequoias. She was a member of the FFA floral judging team at Golden West and earned certificates in horticulture and nursery management from COS.
   Sara often expressed her happiness with the family move to Three Rivers 10 years ago to the restored adobe home of her great-grandparents Jim and Claire Livingston. She loved gardening and was a member of the San Joaquin Herb Society and Three Rivers Woman’s Club. She assisted with the maintenance of the Herb Society’s former herb garden at the COS farm for many years.
   Sara was the granddaughter of the late Earl and Jean Davis of Three Rivers. She is survived by her parents, Steve and Barbara Davis Lahmann of Three Rivers; brother Mike Lahmann and companion Charlotte Dalzell of Ione; sister Katy Lahmann Harris and husband Steven of Alberta, Canada; nephews Ian, Kevin, and Blake Harris; grandmother Ella Listar; aunt Ruth Pugh; aunt Kathy Davis Lipp and husband Bob of Kennewick, Wash.; uncle Jeff Davis and wife Barbara of Exeter; and numerous nieces and nephews.
   A viewing and rosary were held Wednesday, June 9, at St. Clair’s Catholic Church in Three Rivers. A mass of Christian burial was held Thursday, June 10, immediately followed by interment at the Three Rivers Cemetery.

Elizabeth Andresen
1920 ~ 2010

   Elizabeth Wells Jones Andresen died Tuesday, April 27, 2010. She was 89.
   Elizabeth was born in Denver, Colo., on December 26, 1920. Her family moved to Glendale, Calif., that year where Elizabeth and her brother Walt walked to the Dorn Street Elementary School. (Walt Wells later became a cattle rancher and was a longtime resident of Three Rivers.)
   Elizabeth graduated from Marlborough High School in Los Angeles. She continued on to graduate from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Merchandising in 1943.
During World War II, Elizabeth earned her wings as a pilot in Reno, Nev., so she could ferry planes to those flying in war zones, however, a marriage proposal from Robert E. “Bob” Jones intervened, and she gave up her potential flying career.
   Bob and Elizabeth settled in La Canada, where they raised their four children. Their marriage was cut short in July 1971 when Bob died in a scuba-diving accident.
   Elizabeth lived in La Canada Flintridge for 52 years from 1951 until 2003. She was extremely involved in the community. In 2003, Elizabeth and her second husband, Bob Andresen, moved to Villa Gardens in Pasadena.
   In 1972, Elizabeth and Robert “Bob” Andresen were introduced by friends and the couple married later that year. They enjoyed gardening, volunteer work, and world travel.
   During their 34 years of marriage, Elizabeth and Bob Andresen hosted many friends and family members each summer at Kaweah Han Lodge, located near the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park.
Elizabeth is survived by her children, Dale Jones of Shell Beach; Joyce Millikan of Pasadena; Wendy Allestad of Altadena; stepdaughter Elyse Carr of Seymour, Ind.; eight grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
   The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, remembrances be made to the Crescenta-Canada YMCA or the charity of the donor’s choice.

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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