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In the News - Friday, June 26, 2009

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)



Readers' Poll ballot


TRUS staff face cuts

School's 2009-2010 budget approved

    In these uncertain economic times, virtually every public agency in California is struggling to agree upon a realistic budget. At Wednesday night’s regular meeting, the Three Rivers Union School District’s board of trustees approved the new fiscal year (2009-2010) budget but not without some tense moments.
   The biggest culprit appears to be a declining student enrollment that is projected to be 155 in the new school year. That’s down another 18 students from the past year and nearly 100 students from a decade ago.
   That makes trying to plot the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) revenue a nightmare, especially while local administrators wait to see what, if anything, ever again trickles down from Sacramento. State budget woes are downright depressing, and it’s putting a damper on small school districts like Three Rivers.
   Now the local district’s budget has some open wounds caused by a steep decline in revenue, and the situation will likely worsen before it gets better.
   The Wednesday, June 24, meeting opened with a brief closed session where Sue Sherwood, superintendent/principal of the school district for 14 years, agreed to forgo a one percent step pay raise in the new school year and will be paid the same salary as last year. The public hearing portion of the agenda began by approving a move of 15 funding categories within the budget from “restricted” to “unrestricted.”
   These categories — like deferred maintenance, peer assistance, school safety, and others — all appeared to be items that could furnish much-needed cash in the event of an emergency. Then Superintendent Sherwood conducted a line-by-line review of each section of the nearly 100-page budget document.
   There really wasn’t anything controversial until the proposed cuts in classified contracts were discussed. The hours of all 11 of these employees, which include everybody from instructional aides to the custodian, were being cut. In some cases, the most senior employees, who have experienced deep cuts recently, received the deepest cuts.
Beth Rohrkemper, an instructional aide, had her hours cut from 30 in 2008 to 25 beginning Fall 2009. Rohrkemper, an aide at TRUS since 1985, said she expected the cuts in hours, but was told that they would not exceed 10 percent.
   Valerie Abanathie, retired TRUS employee and current trustee, objected to the cuts exceeding 10 percent. She rescinded her previous yes vote on the budget because the document contained, she said, some new things that were not in the preliminary documents presented to the board.
   The projected 2009-2010 budget calls for revenues of $1,171,665 with expenditures of $1,156,126. The expenditures of 2008-2009 were slightly more at $1,249,131.60.
   Sherwood said that the budget is not final for another 45 days, and she would search for other areas that might be cut instead of the ones proposed for classified employees. Teachers, who are certified employees, were given a one-percent step increase in the 2009-2010.
Bob Burke, a career high school teacher in Visalia and longtime trustee, said he knows that Three Rivers is in the unenviable position of not really being able to pay a “livable wage.”
   Now and in the past, salary was not always the first priority of teachers who wanted to both live and work in Three Rivers. Apparently, that’s the case with Katie (Crawford) St. Martin, who was hired as the new kindergarten teacher.
   St. Martin has taught in Woodlake for the past six years. She was chosen from more than 90 applicants, mainly because she was already credentialed and was willing to work as a part-time (75 percent) teacher.
   Trustee Abanathie also objected to the manner in which St. Martin was selected and again was the sole no vote among the five board members. After some discussion, the board agreed to draft a formal hiring procedure.
   Copies of the proposed budget are on file at the TRUS office and may be inspected during regular business hours.
   The next regular board meeting of the TRUS trustees will be Tuesday, July 7. The meeting was rescheduled from the usual Wednesday evening so Superintendent Sherwood and Linda Warner, teacher, can attend the Edible Schoolyard Academy in Berkeley on July 9 and 10.
   Tuition to attend the popular academy, which instructs school staff on curriculum to teach students to grow (and eat) more vegetables is $400 per participant. This is being paid by a donation from the Three Rivers Woman’s Club while Sherwood and Warner will pay their own travel expenses.

Horse Creek Campground to reopen

   Now when Lake Kaweah levels drop, it’s a mixed blessing, but it hasn’t always been that way. In terms of recreation facilities, we lose some and gain some, but we have more water a lot longer.
   Before the basin was expanded in 2004, in a dry year the lake’s pool could be barely more than a big mud puddle by the Fourth of July weekend. Not so anymore, and take this year (70 percent of normal snowpack) as an excellent indicator.
   As water levels drop, the days are numbered until the new boat ramp at Slick Rock is left high and dry. But simultaneously, the old No. 2 boat ramp can reopen, which it did earlier this week.
   Then the campground can be reopened and that facility is scheduled to start booking sites again as soon as this weekend.
   Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah general manager, said that if current release levels hold, recreational users could be in an unprecedented position.

  “It’s conceivable that we would be able to keep the ramp at Slick Rock open until after the busy holiday weekend,” Deffenbaugh said. “There’s still plenty of water for everyone, better parking options, and more choices than most folks are used to at Lake Kaweah for this time of year.”
   One of those choices will be a special July 4th open house at Slick Rock being jointly hosted by Lake Kaweah and the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Plans are being finalized for the gala celebration and it’s bound to feature some good old-fashioned festive fun on the Fourth.
   The lake storage is currently at 73 percent and is dropping two vertical feet per day. The current elevation as of Thursday, June 26, was 687.28.

Fish mysteriously die at Lake Kaweah

   According to several reports, there was a massive fish kill at Lake Kaweah that had some local fisherman wondering what might be plaguing the local fishery. The dead fish started washing up on the shoreline three weeks ago.
   Phil Deffenbaugh, general manager at Lake Kaweah, estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 fish were killed. The kill, he said, was confined exclusively to carp, a notorious bottom feeder related genetically to their more famous domesticated cousins — goldfish and Japanese koi.
   Carp are a highly prized food fish in Europe and Asia. In the U.S., the carp species is less popular because it tends to eradicate more popular game fish with which it competes for aquatic resources.
   Similar fish kills has been reported recently at Lake Mojave and Lake Havasu. California Department of Fish and Game scientists believe that a herpes-like virus is responsible for the fish kills that only affect carp. As water temperatures warm in the late spring, the virus becomes more prevalent impacting the gill function and causing secondary infections.
   The Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) has already been determined to be the source of the Mojave fish die-off and is probably related to the Havasu kill owing to the fact that the lake is downstream. Lake officials at Havasu and Kaweah are awaiting the pathology results from the California Department of Fish and Game.
   The virus is not harmful to humans although handling of the infected species is not advisable. Like invasive species, KHV may be transported by mussels or other aquatic growth that attaches to the hulls of recreational boats being transported for use at multiple lakes.


Update on Measure R and

its transportation projects

by David Harrald

   Back in 2006, the citizens of Tulare County passed Measure R to generate a projected $652 million over 30 years to Tulare County for transportation projects. Almost three years later, the half-cent sales tax revenue has exceeded expectations.
   With this funding, we’ve been able to accomplish things we never could have afforded in the past. Even now, amidst uncertain economic times, Measure R funds continue to allow us to repair and improve our roads, enhance transit services countywide, expand the network of bike trails, and improve our environment.
   I would like to take this opportunity to give everyone a current look at what Measure R has done for us since its passage. Keep in mind that in the next five years, over $400 million of construction projects are planned and many of those projects wouldn’t be completed without Measure R funds.
   Since July 2007, our cities and county have spent $15.7 million in Measure R local program funding to pay for everything from pothole repair to road rehabilitation to freeway interchange improvements. This funding makes up 35 percent of Measure R expenditures. This money has been spent by each individual city and the County of Tulare based on the needs of the communities.
   For instance, the City of Dinuba had not been able to do a citywide street maintenance project in years. With Measure R local program funds, the City of Dinuba combined its Measure R funding with other sources and completed a $6.5 million citywide street improvement project in just one year.
   The City of Exeter sealed and protected more than 700,000 square feet of its roads — more than it normally would have been able to do on its own.
   The City of Lindsay used its Measure R funding to resurface downtown streets, do intersection improvements, and resurface Tulare Road, a heavily used road in need of repair.
   Late last year, we saw the first use of Measure R funds for regional projects — projects that provide for the movement of goods, services, and people throughout Tulare County. This regional funding makes up 50 percent of Measure R revenue.
   Since Measure R was implemented, $3.5 million has been spent to fund regional projects, including the widening of Road 80 just north of Visalia, the Avenue 416/Road 56 signal project just west of Dinuba, and the Santa Fe/SR-198 overcrossing. By the end of the year, we’ll also see work begin on a regional project in Porterville: the widening of Scranton and Indiana.
   These are projects that will help everyone in Tulare County, not just those people who live in the immediate area. In the next five years, we’ll see $120 million go to regional projects funded by Measure R, which will include work on the widening of Road 108 to four lanes within the City of Tulare, the widening of Avenue 416 from Road 56 to Road 80, the widening of Betty Drive to four lanes from Highway 99 to Road 80, and the widening of Caldwell Avenue.
   Again, without Measure R, these roads would most likely continue to deteriorate as transportation budgets become more limited in this economy. Further, the City of Tulare and the County of Tulare have leveraged Measure R funding through matching funds of state money for a total of $30 million in funding for railroad overcrossings/grade separations in the City of Tulare.
   Measure R has also helped improve the network of bike paths in Tulare County. Fourteen percent of Measure R’s budget goes to transit, bike, and environmental improvements.
   To date we’ve spent $1.1 million on bike projects. Much of the work in this category is not yet complete, but agencies are actively working to complete projects such as bike and trail improvements. For example, with Measure R funding, the City of Visalia has hired a consultant to do design improvements to the Packwood Creek Trail in Visalia.
   This summer, we will also see work begin on a bridge project on Cameron Creek at Mooney Grove Park. Additionally, Measure R is helping to fund crosswalks, ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, lighting, and trailhead improvements along the Santa Fe bike trail in Tulare.
   Transit improvements, also included in the 14 percent funding category, have also been plentiful thanks to $1.9 million in Measure R funding. That funding has helped ensure that more buses are running to serve some of the most popular routes.
   Service hours have been extended on weekends and holidays, routes countywide have been expanded, and new routes have been formed to serve residents in rural areas who rely on transit. One of the first uses of Measure R funds helped start the Loop Bus, which takes youth from Goshen to recreation centers in Visalia to make sure they have access to safe and supervised activities throughout the summer months.
   These are just some of the great improvements we’ve seen Measure R accomplish in the past two-and-a-half years. The good news is that more great work is on the way.
   I invite anyone who would like to learn more about Measure R to attend a meeting of the Citizens’ Oversight Committee. We meet quarterly and our next meeting is on Monday, Aug. 10.
   For more information on this meeting and Measure R, go to www.TCMeasureR.com or call Ramon Lara, Measure R coordinator, 713-3017.
   David Harrald is the chairman of the Measure R Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

3R artists take part in

‘Views of Yokohl Valley’

   Well over a year ago, a group of artists and friends attended a scoping meeting in Exeter to offer input on the Yokohl Ranch planned community.

  “We were shocked to grasp the huge size and scope of the planned development,” said Mona Fox Selph of Three Rivers, a professional artist and member of the Tulare County Citizens for Responsible Growth. “We realized the impact it will have on the health and environment of all of the citizens and wildlife of Tulare County.
   Mona was a friend of the late Ray Strong (1905-2006), a renowned landscape painter who spent his final years in Three Rivers. Ray was a founding member of the Oaks Group, a collection of artists from the Santa Barbara area that held numerous shows over several decades to raise public awareness and funds, and as a result saved hundreds of acres of beautiful coastline from development.
   Mona approached Kevin Bowman, director of Arts Visalia with the idea of a show about Yokohl Valley. Kevin consented, and the result of this collaboration will be a month-long exhibit entitled “Views of Yokohl Valley.”
   Mona will have several paintings on display. Father John Griesbach is currently working on two paintings for the exhibit.
   Other Three Rivers artists have been invited to participate, including painters, photographers, and various other media.
   Views of Yokohl Valley will debut in July at the Arts Visalia gallery at 214 E. Oak Ave. (across of The Depot restaurant). A reception with the artists will be held Friday, July 10, 6 to 8 p.m.

Blue Thong Society

debuts in Three Rivers

by Brian Rothhammer

   Blue what?, you ask. That’s right, thongs!
   The Blue Thongs have arrived in Three Rivers.
   On June 18, 2009, a local chapter of the Blue Thong Society was formed. Their inaugural meeting was held in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River.
   You may have heard about the national Red Hat Society. Their local chapter is called the Kaweah Kuties. This new group of gals — who have dubbed themselves the “Riveritas” — share similar goals but dare to be even more irreverent.
   Attending this auspicious occasion were the chapter director or “Top Thong” Janene Lasswell and four charter Riveritas: Bev Drewry, Debbie Jo Bird, Karen McIntyre, and Lillie Hart. There was little formality, no sergeant-at-arms, no Robert’s Rules of Order whatsoever. They do, however, have an agenda.
   Just who, or what, is a Blue Thong? A blue thong could be a flip-flop sandal or a fabric-deprived swimsuit of an azure tone. Their logo looks like either or both, or a bit like the Shmoo character in the old Li’l Abner cartoon strip.
   The Blue Thong Society is a new organization founded in 2006 by four friends. A year prior, one of them was approaching her 50th birthday. When one friend suggested the gift of a red hat, another retorted that Mary Jo Wallo was more of a red thong sort of gal. That irreverent remark inspired an irreverent, yet socially productive society.
   You see, these aren’t (necessarily) crazed women running about in skimpy attire and cheesy footwear.
   These women have a mission and a purpose. The blue in Blue Thong was chosen as it represents the emotions of sympathy, harmony, friendship, and loyalty.

  “The Blue Thong Society is about attitude: sassy, irreverent, strong, fierce, and fun,” according to the group’s literature. “It’s also about giving back. This altruism-with-attitude is what keeps the group going, and growing.”
   And grow they have, with over 300 chapters and 6,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
   Each chapter of the BTS must choose a local cause or charity to support, and the Riveritas have chosen the local Bread Basket food pantry. In addition, the Blue Thong Society Project Foundation has plans to build “Blue Houses” for deserving women.
Enough of that business stuff.

  “We are not a business or professional network or group,” said Janene. “We avoid that. Our motto is ‘Fight Frump.’”
   Their sponsor is a vodka distiller whose product “is really good, by the way, and comes in a beautiful blue bottle,” attested Janene. “Our agenda [at the first meeting] was to pick the name Riveritas, learn to make the BTS signature drinks, the Thongatini and the Thongarita [although neither alcohol consumption nor the wearing of the thong are prerequisites of membership], and to adopt the Bread Basket as our local cause.”

  “We had a blast,” said Janene of the first meeting. “You’d see women there… just having fun… who usually are too busy with work, family, etc., to take time out for each other. It was the first warm day of the season and the river was just right for swimming.”
   Several members plan to attend the BTS regional event in Camarillo next month and, in April 2010, the BTS National Convention in New Orleans, La. Last year, over 200 BTS members went on the second annual “Fight Frump” conference and cruise aboard the Carnival Cruise’s Elation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
   Annual dues for membership in the Blue Thong Society are $30 (plus a donation to the “lush fund”). Check out the national BTS website at www.bluethongsociety.com.
   For information about joining the local Riverita chapter, contact Janene Lasswell at 561-0900.

Measure R funds

at work in Woodlake

   In March, Measure R funds collected from Tulare County sales tax were used in Three Rivers to widen, and according to a Tulare County public works engineer, make the Cherokee Oaks Bridge safer. Now more of the half-cent increase in sales tax revenue is being used in Woodlake for overdue road repairs.
   Work was started last week citywide in Woodlake on a project to chipseal a number of streets with a material that uses recycled tires, said Ruben DeLeon, superintendent of public works for the City of Woodlake. The city is using $368,477 in Measure R funds so that the badly needed maintenance work can be done now.

  “Without this funding, these roads would not have been repaired for at least another 10 years,” said DeLeon. “People will really appreciate this repair work when it’s finally completed.”
   The City of Woodlake was allocated $750,000 in Measure R local program funds but because the contract came in under budget, Woodlake will be able to get even more done as a part of the innovative program. The rubberized chipseal, which is formulated with melted tires, will extend the life of some of Woodlake’s heaviest used arterial streets from seven years to 10 years.
   DeLeon said the chipseal process is not only good for motorists who drive the streets of Woodlake but this project is good for the environment too. A similar recycled rubberized material will also be used in the new all-weather track scheduled to be installed around Leo Robinson Field at Woodlake High School.

Volunteer ‘Trail Trekkers’ wanted

   Expanding on the successful River Rovers program, rangers in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park are beginning a similar program to keep hikers safe on trails. But the success is dependent on the amount of people who volunteer.
   Trail Trekkers will work directly under the supervision of a park ranger while exploring the Mineral King trails and sharing their knowledge and experience with visitors. Volunteers will also report trail conditions and any other observations to park staff.
   Prospective Trail Trekkers will receive training from rangers.
   This volunteer group is modeled after the River Rover program that has the goal of eliminating drowning and other river emergencies in the foothills area of Sequoia National Park.

   Lifesaving program— In fact, a River Rover is directly associated with helping to save a life on Saturday, May 30, when he radioed park dispatch to report that a 23-year-old man had fallen into the Kaweah River near the Hospital Rock picnic area. The victim was apparently rough-housing with a companion when he slipped off a rock and entered the current, which swept him to a submerged rock where he was able to stand up in the cold, waist-deep water.
   Rangers arrived on-scene and were able to rescue the young man. He was treated for mild hypothermia.
   Drowning is the number-one cause of death in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The River Rovers are having a positive impact on this dire statistic.
   Now the Trail Trekkers will be keeping hikers and resources safe by educating people on trail etiquette, informing them of route options that meet the hikers’ abilities, and more.
   For information on either program or to volunteer, call Denise Robertson, 565-3132.

Roadwork ongoing in Sequoia NP

   An improvement project involving about nine miles of Generals Highway between Wolverton Road and Little Baldy summit, including Wuksachi Road, began Tuesday, June 9, in Sequoia National Park.
   Plans call for the surface of the highway to be pulverized and graded and new asphalt to be laid over the next five months. Additional work to repair and install culverts and to remove and replace curbs will be performed in conjunction with the road improvement.
   The project will be divided into three segments; work on the first segment has already begun. This stretch of road extends from the Wolverton Road intersection to the Wuksachi Road intersection.
Initial work on this segment of the project will affect the highway between Lodgepole Road and Wolverton Road.
   The project manager said the contractor’s intent is to keep one lane of traffic moving continuously. However, motorists are advised to expect slight delays on approximately a mile-long stretch of the highway construction zone.
   Current plans call for continuous traffic flow throughout the project area outside the segments under construction and for flagging to facilitate surveying requirements for the project.
   The next segment of the project will take in the highway from the Halstead picnic area turnout to about 1,000 feet north of Little Baldy summit, the highest point along the Generals Highway. The tentative start for this segment will be in early July.
   The third and last part of the project includes the stretch of highway approximately 1,000 feet south of the Wuksachi Road intersection to the Halstead picnic area turnout. Work on this segment is expected to begin in early September.
   The current construction will impact travelers mainly if they are trying to drive from one park to the other. For the most part, visitors who view the main attractions in either Sequoia or Kings Canyon will not even notice the roadwork.
   Rehabilitation of the Generals Highway has been ongoing since 1996. Construction of the highway into Sequoia was completed in 1926.


Guide for Positive Change:

How crashworthy are you?

  This article is published as part of the Sequoia Mountain Healers series to promote health and wellness.
   On June 1, an Air France Airbus A330-200 en route from Rio de Janiero to Paris crashed, killing all 228 people aboard. After hearing about this devastating plane crash, I immediately made an analogy to our lives.
   Facts are still being studied and indicate a possible malfunction in the plane’s electrical system, however, in the beginning, the story indicated a possible weather pattern, something outside the plane, causing the crash.
   Airline sustainability relies on the dependability of repeated and predictable operations. In this case something unexpected happened.
This story is impressive because it correlates directly to our lives. Each one of us is like a plane, traversing our life-path, going from point A to point B.
   We also have an internal wiring system that activates our guidance system. Meridians run through our body modeling that of a house-wiring diagram.
   The EKG machine measures the heart’s electrical activity. When the electrical system within our body gets zapped we can go off course.
We also get physical signals. Our throat, chest, stomach, and back offer superior guidance to deeper issues calling for our attention. For example, saying “yes” when we mean “no” may send an immediate signal to our chest creating anxiety and tension.
   The captain of the Airbus A330-200 was experienced and had impressive air time documented. We, too, are practiced at this thing called life.
   During Airbus Flight 447, at least 12 other airplanes shared the same trans-Atlantic sky, but none reported any problems.

  “Although none of the other flights are known to have reported weather problems en route, aviation experts said weather can change suddenly and vary over short distances, so one plane might experience conditions far worse than another,” said a news report.
   We too, experience “weather” in our lives. Our individual choices and decisions are a large factor in how that weather affects us.
   What route did we choose when we experienced or caused a particular outcome? Experienced pilots deviate around storm cells.  How have you trained yourself to swerve around the storms?
   Outdated thought patterns, guilt, anger, and judgment actually prevent us from circumventing undesirable weather and can actually contribute to the danger of storm systems.
   Life out-of-the-ordinary happens. Are you in tune with your internal guidance system? Are you tracking your safety records and flight logs?    Are you paying attention to your flight patterns? Are you monitoring your computer systems?
   What benefits would there be if we observed and responded to our internal operating systems on a more regular basis?
   We humans may rely and operate on autopilot more often than planes. In fact, there are studies that indicate we can be on autopilot 80 to 90 percent of the time.
   Think of the last time you drove from point A to point B but don’t remember details of the landscape, other cars, or your speed.
   It is helpful for each of us to analyze our own flight pattern history and determine how we are moving closer to our desired destination or not. We are fortunate to have personal indicators within to keep us on target. It’s important to set our flight plan and to be aware along the way. “Autopilot” may not help us when the unpredicted happens.
   The unexpected can and will happen, so consider: how crashworthy are you? Will you be able to avoid one? What can you do now to set up for a safer landing?
   Guidance for positive change includes observation, understanding, and realization that bad and good happens. Explore the opposites and paradoxes here at “Life University.”
   When we can look at the difficult lesson and get in the sandbox with it, or witness it from the teacher-tower, we advance on our master path.    Take hold of the controls in your “plane” and be conscious of your flight plan, your maneuvers, and the weather. Remember system failures can make us stronger from experience.
   Kay Packard is a “Guide for Positive Change.” She is a member of the Sequoia Mountain Healers whose intention is to encourage and support health and wellbeing within the local and global communities. Visit www.handfactor.com and www.sequoiamountainhealers.org. (All Airbus accident details are from CNN and Reuters articles on the Internet.)

A smart investment:

More than 10 reasons to shop local

   In less than two decades, large retail chains have become the most powerful corporations in America. Today, these mega-retailers are fueling many of the country’s most pressing problems, from the shrinking middle class to rising pollution and diminished civic engagement.
   So when consumers spend their dollars at big boxes like Wal-Mart and Home Depot or chains like Starbucks and Old Navy, they might be saving a buck, but they are also contributing to the homogenization of America and the precipitous decline of independent businesses.
   But consumers can really make a difference. “Buy local” campaigns around the country are changing shopping patterns and influencing government decision-making.
   There are so many reasons to shop in Three Rivers and the surrounding communities. It’s fun, convenient, and will inspire prospective business owners to make the investment to live and work here, ensuring a stable economic future.
   Here are some more reasons:

1. Protect local character and prosperity. Three Rivers is a unique place; there’s no other quite like it. By choosing to support locally owned businesses, you help maintain Three Rivers’s diversity and distinctive flavor.

2. Community wellbeing. Locally owned businesses build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes.

3. Local decision-making. Local ownership means that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4. Keeping dollars in the local economy. Your dollars spent in locally owned businesses have more impact on Three Rivers than dollars spent at national chains 30 miles away. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement, and promote community development and investment.

5. Jobs and wages. Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6. Entrepreneurship. This is what fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity while serving as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7. Public benefits and costs. Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores or strip malls.

8. Environmental sustainability. Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers, which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9. Competition. A marketplace of towns made up of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation, diversity, creativity, and low prices over the long term.

10. Product diversity. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.


Teenage fitness

Dear Teenager—
   At your age, independence becomes very important. Making good choices is important in ensuring you will be able to achieve this goal of less supervision.
   A part of this transition to independence includes taking charge of your own body. On all levels, especially emotional and physical, the teen years are a period of tremendous transition.
   But what better time — before you are completely on your own and while your body is naturally young and wholesome — to create a fitness plan that will allow you to lead a healthy, energetic, and meaningful life?
   When you are fit, you will have a greater ability to take control of your life and make decisions that are best for you. And if health and fitness become a habit in your teen years, it is more likely that you will be a fit adult, thus reducing your risk of obesity and all its related illnesses and conditions.
   Fitness is a balance between the right amount of physical activity and proper nutrition. Fitness is not about having a perfect body — an impossible and highly subjective goal — but, instead, having a body that feels good to you.
   During this time, it is normal to feel physically and emotionally awkward or out of sync at times. You are not alone; every teen, male or female, deals with this.
   If you have a daily routine that includes enough sleep, wholesome food, and exercise, you will be well on the road to health, positive body image, and high self esteem. And, remember, what you see in the mirror is far less important than what is inside; being happy from within is what makes you beautiful on the outside.
   Nutrition basics— Bingeing, purging, and starvation will not lead to fitness. These practices will make you sick, fat, or kill you.
   Diets don’t work (there is a reason the word starts with “DIE”) and they usually leave out important nutrients necessary for a teen’s developing body. Eat in moderation, include fruits and vegetables everyday, avoid soda and fast food as much as possible… for the rest of your life.
   You actually need to eat to be in top physical shape. Breakfast, lunch, a snack or two, and dinner is the ideal daily meal plan.
   Moderation in food balanced with physical activity is the key to losing weight or simply maintaining your weight. Here are some tips to get you through the day, everyday:

Don’t skip breakfast.

Eat a serving of something that is red and orange (grapes, strawberries, orange, sweet potato, cantaloupe, tomatoes…) daily.

When you are about to snack on something, ask yourself if you are really hungry. Learn what real hunger feels like, compared to eating mindlessly or because you are bored or upset.

Choose low-fat snacks, such as pretzels, air-popped popcorn frozen fruit bars, baked tortilla chips and salsa, English muffin or toast with fruit spread.

Get three servings of calcium a day (low or non-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, orange juice fortified with calcium…).

Drink lots of water everyday.

Eat something green with two of your meals (lettuce, spinach, green beans, asparagus…).

Eat broiled or grilled entrees rather than fried or sautéed.

Avoid caffeine because it leaches precious calcium right out of your growing bones (use the coffeehouses that are now everywhere for socializing, but avoid the coffee drinks because of the caffeine, the excess calories, and the exorbitant prices).

  When first trying to improve your eating habits, you may think that the healthy choices don’t taste as yummy as some of the fast food, sweets, processed foods, and high-fat selections you may be eating now. This is only because your tastebuds have been conditioned to expect salty, fatty, or sweet flavors. Humans were not meant to eat this way, however, so as you revert to more healthy, natural choices, that is eventually what you will begin to crave.
   Don’t think you can never have any of your favorite foods again. It will drive you crazy, you will want them more than ever, and you will beat yourself up if you indulge.
   Remember the 90-10 rule. Ninety percent of the time try to eat well. The 10 percent takes place when you want something that may fit into these categories because it has a lot or sugar, fat, or contains a lot of calories, or just tastes awesome.
   Save the 10 percent for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, family gatherings, a vacation, or even a night out with friends.
   Remember that society has a narrow-minded attitude of beauty. You don’t have to measure up to anyone’s standards.
   Never forget that your body is a miracle and you are the one who is in charge of it. And appreciate everything that makes you unique.
   Next time— Exercise: In other words, get off your butt!

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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