In the News - Friday, July 16,
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
man hurt in bike accident
Thompson, 43, of Three Rivers faces danger everyday
on the job. He’s a lineman who works for a contractor
that installs power lines and transmission towers.
In his leisure time, he rides a racing
bike and is an avid kayaker. In fact, it was the Kaweah
River that was the key factor in his decision to make
his home base on North Fork Drive seven years ago.
The morning of Thursday, July 1, started
like so many others. Chris was cruising down North
Fork Drive and just pulling out of the section that
nearby residents refer to as “Deadman’s
Curve,” located about a quarter-mile above the
North Fork Bridge and just before the straight stretch
that extends to Pierce’s Corner.
Not surprisingly, there have been numerous
car accidents in this section of North Fork Drive.
The most recent one was another near-fatal that occurred
Sunday, July 10. (See story below.)
Chris estimated he was going 25 mph when
he looked up at an oncoming motorist at the same time
the bike hit some wavy bumps in the asphalt.
next thing I knew the bike went down and I hit head
first,” Chris recalled. “My bike helmet
literally blew up but it did exactly what it was supposed
to do: absorb the impact.”
Chris estimates he slid at least 15 yards
on his side before coming to a grinding halt, partly
on the gravel shoulder and partly on the roadway.
A woman walking her dog quickly approached the sprawled
out biker and asked if there was anything she could
couldn’t even respond to her immediately as
I was still trying to check all my parts and assess
the damage,” Chris recalled. “I was bleeding
from the nose, my back and shoulder hurt, I was extremely
nauseous, and I could feel all my blood rush to my
belly. I said to the woman, ‘Call an ambulance.
I’m going into shock.’”
Chris remained conscious throughout the
entire incident. Tulare County firefighters arrived
on the scene at 8:38 a.m., within six minutes after
dispatch fielded the 911 call. He remembers the firefighters
loading him on a board.
you do don’t touch my head,” Chris recalls
telling the EMTs.
The Exeter Ambulance arrived on scene
at 8:57 a.m. and transported the patient to Kaweah
Delta Medical Center where he had same-day surgery
on a broken hip.
Today, Chris is on the mend, but awaiting
a shoulder operation that his doctors advised Chris
to hold off on until he no longer needs crutches.
In good spirits and able to reflect on his experience,
Chris said the real shocker came when he received
the ambulance bill of $1,880. Fortunately, he has
an excellent insurance policy from an employer who
he won’t be returning to work for in 2010.
To the woman who was walking her dog at the scene
on July 1, please contact John Elliott at the Commonwealth
(260-2909). You have a message from Chris.
motorist arrested in DUI accident
40-year-old Kaweah man was arrested after the 2007
Toyota FJ Cruiser he was driving northbound left the
North Fork Drive roadway, collided with a fence, and
became hung up on some boulders about a quarter-mile
north of North Fork Bridge. The accident occurred
Sunday, July 11, just after 9 p.m.
The driver fled the scene, but was detained
as he was walking along North Fork Drive.
After the CHP arrived at the scene, the
man was arrested on suspicion of DUI and booked into
Tulare County Jail.
The vehicle had expired Virginia license
tags and the driver was not carrying a valid driver’s
license. The man was identified by a California identification
card that was found in his possession.
According to CHP officer Flynn, acting
public information officer, the severity of the charges
will depend on the driver’s blood alcohol content.
Those results are pending.
Electric Railroad on display
Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center
members of the Visalia Electric Railroad Modelers
and Historical Society were at Lake Kaweah on Saturday,
July 10. The purpose of their visit was to deliver
a valuable gift to the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center.
An important part of the history of Lake
Kaweah and Terminus Dam is the rail system that served
the area in the early 20th century. It was absolutely
unique and helped mold the character and economy of
the Kaweah valley.
In the age of steam railroads, a cleaner,
quieter, “greener” technology —
electrical power — began to replace coal-burning
locomotives in many larger cities. This new locomotion
even found its way into a few railroads serving rural
communities such as Exeter and Lemon Cove.
The Visalia Electric Railroad began passenger
service in 1908, and before long the orange electric
cars were hauling loads of people to a special destination
on the banks of the Kaweah River. Terminus Beach offered
visitors a large deck along the river for dancing
and special events such as professional boxing matches.
During summer, the cool waters of the
Kaweah attracted hundreds of swimmers seeking relief
from the Central Valley heat. On Independence Day
1915, the VE punched 5,000 tickets.
Since its founding 15 years ago, this
historical organization has been dedicated to the
preservation of the history of the VE through the
modeling and interpretation of rolling stock and railroad
many years, the Visalia Electric Railroad was the
link to the outside world for the residents and the
agricultural goods they produced,” said Ed Keogh,
president of the nonprofit group.
When approached to participate in the
renovation of the Lake Kaweah visitor center, Ed Keogh
met with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers volunteers to
develop ideas and interpretive concepts. Over a period
of several months, rolling stock models were sourced,
modified, and finished to faithfully represent the
railcars that serviced Terminus. While the models
were being built by group members, an appropriate
setting was under construction at the visitor center.
The new exhibit now features a “ticket
window,” complete with a posted schedule of
arrivals and departures from July 18, 1915. Built
into the window are two cases that feature the gems
of the exhibit — HO-scale (1:87) models of the
railcars and locomotives that served here. The most
unique is a replica of an electrically-powered “interurban”
car like the ones that brought swimmers to Terminus.
The visitor center at Lake Kaweah has
changed over the past several months. With the addition
of new displays on the dam, the fusegates, water management,
early residents, and the flora and fauna of the Kaweah,
visitors can learn more about the unique history and
culture of the lake bed and the surrounding Corps
of Engineers property.
Valerie McKay, USACE park ranger, observed
that the generosity of the gift from VERMHS allows
visitors to understand why “…the name
of the dam is Terminus Dam.”
For more information about VERMHS, contact
Ed Keogh at firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Butler is an USACE
volunteer at Lake Kaweah.
HOT summertime reads
an ice-cold glass of lemonade and climb into your
hammock. Here is the first of two installments about
some of our favorite summertime reads — some
recent publications, some classics — that will
keep you thoroughly entertained whether relaxing at
the river or struggling through the dog days.
It’s been 25 years since Larry
McMurtry came on the scene with this blockbuster.
If you read just one Western novel in your life, make
sure this is the one.
It’s the tale of a pair of former
Texas Rangers who embark on a cattle drive from Texas
to Montana through untamed, wild country. The story
is filled with all the harrowing adventures that can
possibly be had while on that dusty trail.
Follow Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call
as they battle sandstorms, snakes, bad food, bad water,
Comanches, and more. Like only a storyteller like
McMurtry can do, each character is so well-developed
that the reader is quickly roped in and along for
Be prepared to laugh... and cry…
sometimes on the same page. When Lonesome
Dove is over but you aren’t ready to let
Gus and Call ride off into the sunset, then move onto
the prequels (which were both written after Lonesome
Dove), Deadman’s Walk and Comanche
Moon, in that order.
Lonesome Dove was made into
a television movie; as usual, the book is the more
gripping account. It’s the reader’s imagination
that best tells this adventure.
The Last Season
While author Eric Blehm is still basking
in the acclaim of his most recent release —
The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green
Berets Forged a New Afghanistan — he will
always be locally renowned for his 2006 account of
the mysterious disappearance of longtime ranger Randy
Morgenson. Randy was an idealist who fiercely protected
his summertime home that is the hundreds of thousands
acres known as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
After nearly 30 years as a seasonal backcountry
ranger, Randy left his Bench Lake ranger cabin one
day in the summer of 1996 and was never heard from
again. A massive search and investigation ensued but
no trace of Randy was found.
Discussion swirled about Randy’s
disillusionment with various aspects of his life,
from his marriage to his summer employer, the National
Park Service. As experienced as Randy was in the Sierra,
it was nearly unfathomable that he could have succumbed
as the result of an accident, so theories such as
suicide, foul play, and planned disappearance all
made the rounds.
It wasn’t until five years later,
nearly to the day, that the question of what happened
to Randy was finally answered. No spoiler alert here;
get the book (available at local parks visitor centers
and online) and read all about it.
Eric Blehm’s meticulous research
creates a fascinating biography that depicts how Randy
got to where he was, both physically and intellectually.
in the Woods
If you are feeling guilty about the kids
spending so much time inside this summer (“It’s
hot!” “There’s nothing to do!”),
this book will reinforce that emotion while convincing
you to take them outside… a lot. They will be
better people as a result, according to author Richard
Louv is single-handedly responsible for
coining the terms “nature deficit disorder”
and “denatured childhood” after compiling
several studies that point to exposure to nature as
essential for a child’s healthy physical and
emotional development. The current disturbing disconnect
robs children in many ways, Louv surmises, linking
the lack of nature to obesity, attention disorders,
depression, lack of creativity, and a foreboding warning
that nature itself will experience a deficit of stewards
in generations to come.
In other words, nature needs children
as much as children need nature.
So, pack up a picnic, buckle the kids
in the car, take the short drive to where it’s
cool (Giant Forest is less than an hour away), and
let the kids experience some disorganized, unstructured,
not-using-their-inside-voices, get-dirty, creative
play while you sit in the shade of a Big Tree and
It’s time for a “nature-child
reunion,” as author Louv would say.
An Eater’s Manual
This pocket-size book by Michael Pollan,
America’s most trusted resource on all things
edible, will be a quick read for anyone who is ready
to make the commitment toward better eating or for
others who need a refresher course. It’s a condensation
of Fast Food Nation and Omnivore’s
Dilemma in an easy-to-read format that will spell
out the commonsense rules of sustenance that we as
a society have cast aside in our quest for super-sized,
mega-gulp, venti, two-for-one dollar deals of manufactured
There are simple mantras such as “If
it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a
plant, don’t” and “Eat animals that
have themselves eaten well.” Eating has become
such a complicated matter, but this book proves it
Its three parts, each ask and answer
a question about our diets: Part I: What should I
eat? (Food). Part II: What kind of food should I eat?
(Mostly plants). Part III: How should I eat? (Not
too much). These are the basic tenets of eating, but
since we all need reinforcement every now and then,
this guidebook will lead you down the right grocery
There is an overabundance of diet books
that claim to be the salvation to permanent weight
loss and healthy eating, but this book is so basic,
so obvious, that it breaks the mold.
And remember, as Michael Pollan writes,
“It’s not food if it arrived through the
window of your car.”
This book is what I’m currently
reading. It has been on my list since its release
The true story is eerily refreshing to
read about subzero winters in the Far North while
experiencing the hot summer nights of the Sierra foothills.
This book is based on the journals of
Norma Cobb and written by Charles Sasser from Norma's
viewpoint. Norma reportedly is the last woman to claim
land under the Homestead Act.
That land, however, happens to be located
about 150 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska, near the
Arctic Circle in the beautiful yet isolated Minook
In their quest to have land of their
own, the Cobbs venture to Alaska in 1972 with their
combined family of five young children, ages three
to nine (no nature-deficit disorder here).
I’m not going to spoil this worthy
read by flipping to the end of the book so some details
are certainly missing. But so far the “Cobbs
and their Kernels” are having a non-stop adventure.
There have been money problems, harsh winters, run-ins
with bears and wolves, a shooting, thefts, threats,
hard lessons in frontier justice, and even some “hairy
man” (aka Bushman) sightings. This memoir is
a page-turner and a very cool read.
The preceding are
a few of Sarah’s favorite books. Next, John
will reveal his picks. Want to contribute? Share your
will be chilling at
annual Custom Car and Bike Show
the coolest thing to do on the hottest night in town?
Chillin’ at the Oldies but Goodies Street Dance
and Cruise Night, of course.
Woodlake is the place to be this Friday
night for some “show ‘n’ shine”
and to dance to the music of DJ Tony Avila as feeling
good sets the tone for Woodlake’s 12th annual
Custom Car and Bike Show.
I f you’d like to shine up your ride and
display it in the show, entries are still available
during Cruise Night and on the day of the event (Saturday,
July 17) for $20.
The entry fee includes a ticket for the
50/50 raffle, a dash plaque, and a meal ticket good
at any restaurant in town. The first 150 entries get
a free event T-shirt.
Just chillin’ is free. This is
the 12th year that the Woodlake Chamber of Commerce
and their sponsors have presented these events as
“…a gift to the Woodlake community,”
and to “invite folks in neighboring communities
to visit our friendly town,” said Rudy Garcia,
one of the event’s organizers.
Saturday morning’s forecast is
too cool for school. Even as the thermometer rises,
coolness sets in again as hundreds of the smoothest,
sweetest machines on wheels glide into Woodlake City
Move-in is from 7 to 10 a.m. This is
when hot rods, bikers, cruisers, and more get their
assigned spots and set about polishing and massaging
their rolling sculptures. Many folks develop an affinity
for their cars but here it’s extreme.
The degree of engineering, the level
of craftsmanship, the endless hours spent on some
of these machines to elevate them to a status of elegance
and beauty is phenomenal. There are also the “Rat
Rods,” apparent mismatched heaps of pieces and
parts still “in the leather.”
Be it a perfectly restored classic, a
“rude boy” hot rod, a Harley, Vespa, or
Schwinn, you will see it here. You’ll also meet
a diverse assemblage of folks of all ages sharing
a common appreciation and fellowship as they admire
each others’ restored prides and joys.
All through the day, vendors will offer
their wares. Woodlake’s great eateries will
also be showcased with lots of car show specials.
At noon the judging begins. There are
31 categories, each with a first, second, and third
The awards ceremony starts at 2 p.m.
Last year 84 trophies were awarded to all the coolest
So let’s see; the coolest cars
in the hemisphere, custom motorcycles, cruising bicycles,
all kinds of the coolest people…
Woodlake Car Show? It’s obviously
the cool place to be.
car buff enters classic Edsel
Woodlake Car Show
Drewry of Three Rivers, winner of a second place trophy
at the 2009 Custom Car Show, will be sharing his 1959
Edsel Ranger at the Woodlake event on Saturday, July
17. He acquired it seven years ago because “it
was all there” and, according to Bill, a worthy
classic to add to his collection.
With the Edsel, its own inglorious history
outshines even its best restorations. That epic story
has created a unique value for Edsel owners a half-century
unveiled— E-Day. That was a greatly
anticipated day in 1957 when a car was unveiled that
was to launch a whole new division of the Ford Motor
Ford initiated a massive market research
program in 1955 to determine what car Americans wanted
in their future and after an intensive design campaign
came up with the Edsel.
The very first CBS TV show to be live
broadcast to the nation, then “tape delayed”
for re-broadcast in the Pacific Time zone, was The
Edsel Show, a star-studded Edsel marketing extravaganza.
Bing Crosby hosted with musical guests Frank Sinatra,
Louis Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, and comedian Bob
The telecast was one of the highest rated
shows of the year. Soon huge lines of eager buyers
waited outside spanking-new showrooms to catch a first
glimpse of “The Newest Thing on Wheels.”
When the doors finally opened, people
were underwhelmed. It wasn’t a hideously bad
creation nor was it a lemon. It just didn’t
live up to the hype.
Soon afterward, Bob Hope quipped that
the distinctive upright grille of the Edsel resembled
“an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.”
Other popular entertainers assailed the poor Edsel
as it became the butt of numerous one- liners. Then
came allegations of quality control issues and other
damaging rumors. Whether the criticism was justified
or not, the Edsel was doomed by all the bad press
Sales were poor for the 1958 model year
and worse for 1959, even after a thorough redesign.
Very few 1960 Edsels were built before the plug was
pulled in November 1959 by Ford president Robert McNamara.
A rather anticlimactic end to a car that
was to be the cornerstone of an entire automotive
division named for Henry Ford‘s only son. The
very name Edsel became synonymous with failure on
a grand scale, though Edsel Ford had been a very successful
president (1919-1943) of Ford Motor Company.
Ironically, a prototype for a mid-sized
Edsel became the highly successful Mercury Comet.
Bill plans to have the Edsel painted
soon in a red and white two-tone for his 50th high
school reunion this fall. Stop by the Woodlake Car
Show this Saturday and greet Bill and see his classic
this weekend for 3R artists
artists explore clay mono prints in a show opening
this weekend in Visalia — Shirley Keller, Karen
Kimball, Marn Reich, and Claudine Feibusch. The artists,
three from Three Rivers, one from the Bay Area, took
a workshop from Diana Crain at The Art Farm in Petaluma.
Mitch Lyons, who is the creator of “clay
mono printing,” trained Diana. Feibusch, Keller,
Kimball and Reich liked the medium enough to pull
together resources and set up a workshop, taught by
another Mitch Lyons student, in one of their homes
in Three Rivers. They continue to meet for a weekend
every now and then to play with the art form. This
show is the result of this collaboration.
Shirley A. Blair Keller
Artist, Writer, Photographer
Shirley explores how nature impinges
on our lives through photography, art, ceramics, and
writing. She has shown ink quilts in San Francisco;
ceramic masks and photography in Tulare, Visalia,
Porterville, and Three Rivers; and has won awards
over the years. Discarded objects made into art is
a recent exploration. Shirley is the secretary/treasurer
for 1st Saturday Three Rivers and opens Spirit Hill
Studio to the public during 1st Saturdays in Three
Artist, Three Rivers
Karen dabbled in graphic arts before
discovering the clay mono print process in 2008. Since
then she has become a devotee of the freedom and spontaneity
of the clay print art form. The concepts of layering,
composition, and color, common to both graphic art
and clay mono print, are more challenging and fun
in the clay process due to the unpredictability of
layers, of color and design on a clay slab. Karen
enjoys this element of surprise.
Karen is a past president of the Arts
Alliance of Three Rivers.
Ceramics Artist, Three Rivers
Marn began working in clay about 15 years
ago in a College of the Sequoias class. Since then,
she has taken classes and workshops all over California.
Her work has won ribbons at Visalia Art League shows
and the Tulare County Fair, where in 2009, her sculpture
won Best of Show. She has pieces of art in collections
throughout the United States.
get most of my joy from creating things whether it
is with clay, fabric, words, or any other medium.”
Artist, El Cerrito
Claudine Feibusch received her early
art training from her father, a graphic artist and
graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute. Her work
has been exhibited at galleries in Fresno, Visalia,
Three Rivers, El Cerrito, San Rosa, and San Francisco.
Her work is in private collections across the country.
She is a mixed-media artist who has explored ceramics,
painting, construction, and sculpture.
will go crazy for
Horse ranch camp
outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man,”
was Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s philosophy.
This is also the mantra for the Plum Horse Crazy Ranch.
Located east of Exeter, the founders
of the Ranch recognize the therapeutic value in horses,
and use it as counseling for victims of domestic,
sexual or substance abuse, as well as horseback riding
lessons. This summer, in order to raise money for
the organization, the group is hosting a summer camp
for seven-to-18-year-olds to learn how to ride, groom,
and saddle horses.
bread and butter around the Ranch is riding lessons,”
said Amanda Cate, founder Renee Cate’s daughter
and vice president of the Ranch. “This summer,
with the economy being what it is, we were hit hard
because we have less clients for lessons. We decided
to have a kids’ camp to fundraise for the ranch.”
The camp takes place on July 22 to 24,
from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and is located at 30669 Hamilton
Drive in Mehrten Valley. There is room for 12 kids
and the camp fills up fast, Cate said. In addition,
the camp offers arts and crafts, as well as special
presenters discussing various horse-related topics.
Though the riding lessons pay the bills
at Plum Horse Crazy Ranch, the organization was established
to assist those in need using Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
mom, Renee Cate, started the organization,”
said Amanda. “She has always been a horse person,
so she combined her counseling skills with her love
of horses to create this program that works not only
with domestic violence victims, but also sexual assault
survivors and substance abuse addicts.”
Plum Horse Crazy Ranch became a corporation
two years ago, receiving nonprofit status 18 months
ago. Their first summer camp fundraiser was last month.
we get enough interest in our kids’ camp this
month, we will definitely have more next summer,”
The cost of the camp is $75 per child, and there are
discounts for siblings.
always tell everyone the ages are six to 99; if you
can get on the horse, we’ll teach you how to
ride, and it will be a lot of fun,” Amanda said.
Plum Horse Crazy Ranch is looking for
volunteers, as well as donations of hay, grain, and
veterinary supplies. Monetary donations are also appreciated
and are tax deductible.
Visit the Ranch’s website at www.plumhorsecrazyranch.com
for more information or register kids for camp by
Keeley of Three Rivers is a senior at Woodlake High
School. She is currently working as a summer intern
with The Kaweah Commonwealth.
Tail Waggin' Tutor
Boley of Three Rivers is a 100-pound, two-year-old
golden retriever who is, according to owner Jennifer
Boley, very mellow and has a big heart.
Grif is a certified therapy dog who currently
assists two hospices. Each week, he visits patients
and offers a pleasant diversion to their daily routines,
and the patients greatly anticipate the visits.
would be amazed at how bringing a loveable dog to
visit a hospice patient can cheer them up,”
said Jennifer. “They will talk of their childhood
and pets they have had or worked with; anything that
made them happy.”
Griffyn is also a “Tail Waggin’
Tutor” who will visit the library and school
to encourage kids to read.
For many years, Jennifer Boley has raised
and trained golden retrievers. She also works at Lone
Oak Veterinary Clinic in Three Rivers.
students visit 3R, Sequoia
group of high school foreign exchange students from
Belarus visited Sequoia National Park a couple weeks
ago to see the mighty trees and volunteer at the local
national parks. Fourteen students from WorldLink rode
the Visalia shuttle to the parks to spend a day touring
the Giant Forest.
Five of the students stayed in Three
Rivers for a few days to perform volunteer projects
for the Sequoia Natural History Association while
others went to volunteer projects in Visalia. The
Sequoia students worked on various chores at the Beetle
Rock Education Center in Giant Forest and at SNHA’s
Ash Mountain office.
This was the second year Belarus students
have volunteered for SNHA.
The nonprofit WorldLink organization
sponsors foreign exchange students through a program
called FLEX or Future Leaders Exchange. Operated by
the U.S. State Department, FLEX brings high-achieving
high school students from former Soviet Union countries
to the United States to learn about democracy and
the American way of life.
In 2007 and 2008, The Kaweah Commonwealth
reported on WorldLink girls from Tajikistan, who spent
10 months living with families in Three Rivers and
attended Woodlake High School.
Belarus is a small European country on
the southwestern border of Russia. While other former
Soviet countries send exchange students to spend a
school year in America, the Belarus program places
students in homes for three weeks.
During this period, they learn about
American culture, improve their English skills, and
volunteer. The students spend an additional week in
Washington, D.C., before returning home.
Three Rivers has hosted WorldLink students
since 2006. This year, 30 students will be placed
in homes throughout Tulare County.
The next round of 10-month students arrives
in late August and some still need host families.
If you are interested in becoming a host family or
have questions about the role of the host family,
contact Adina Escarsega at email@example.com.
Mark Tilchen is the
executive director for Sequoia Natural History Association.
For information on volunteer programs or tips on hosting
WorldLink students, contact him at 565-3759.
1957 ~ 2010
Rhea L. Ernst died Wednesday, June 30,
after a long, courageous battle with cancer. She was
Rhea was a longtime employee of the National
Park Service. She worked at Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks for 15 years.
In 1980, Rhea began her career as a volunteer
at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis,
Mo., where she was born and raised. That same year,
she was offered a paid position as a seasonal ranger.
In 1981, Rhea became a permanent employee.
The following year, she attended the Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center, which would start her on her path
as a protection ranger.
In 1984, Rhea came to California. She
transferred to Death Valley National Park, where she
worked at Scotty’s Castle in interpretation
and law enforcement.
In 1990, Rhea arrived in Sequoia-Kings
Canyon, where she worked as a dispatcher and, later,
as a fee collection supervisor.
In August 2005, Rhea left the NPS and
her job at Sequoia-Kings Canyon. She moved to Colorado
to be closer to family as she battled cancer. While
there, she held positions with the Centers for Disease
Control and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service until she ended her federal career with a
medical disability retirement in August 2008.
A memorial service is pending.