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In the News - Friday, July 19, 2013





Calm restored at area swimming holes

   In the wake of the June 27 shootings at Cobbleknoll that left two dead and two wounded, nobody was certain what might happen next. Many locals feared reprisals for the gang-related violence.
    But Sheriff Bill Wittman delivered on those beefed-up patrols, and the last two weeks has been all quiet on the river front.
    “Since the July 8 meeting, I’ve been getting anywhere from 15 to 20 calls each day asking me to check out one place or another,” said Scott Doyle, Three Rivers resident deputy.     “Most of the calls turned out to be false alarms. Either the person or persons had left the scene or it was a family with kids just trying to access the river.”
    Deputy Doyle said he has recently run several groups out of Cherry Falls and Paradise — the closed BLM recreation areas on upper North Fork Drive. There is evidence that some gang members have frequented those sites but no reports of trouble.
    Two Dinely Drive residents reported that a photo in the Commonwealth of an SUV that was pulled over at the recent DUI checkpoint (June 30) in Sequoia National Park was the same vehicle they saw canvassing their Three Rivers neighborhood. Reportedly, the two occupants of the vehicle were posing as Jehovah’s Witnesses and taking pictures of houses and individual properties.
    Deputy Doyle says he appreciates all the concern but cautions that a little discretion goes a long way.
    “I’ve noticed a lot less activity at the river in the past week so hopefully we won’t see any more trouble this season,” Deputy Doyle said. “If you see something suspicious, let us know right away.”
    It appears that the number of burglaries have declined recently, too, but car break-ins are still being reported along Highway 198. The overall decline in crime does not, however, mean these incidents will not happen again.
    Since the last town meeting, several locals have asked Sheriff Wittman to look into how much it would cost to fund another full-time or part-time deputy to patrol at night or be the back-up on the busy weekends. Sheriff Wittman said he would research the numbers and report his findings at the upcoming town meeting, scheduled for Monday, Aug. 5.
    In addition, at the upcoming meeting, there will be more information on how to spot gang members and prevent crime before it happens.

Drought conditions impact parks’ facilities

   The persistent drought conditions are affecting the western U.S. from fires to farming, and now the lack of water is affecting the local national parks too. Cedar Grove and the north side of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are the areas to feel the water shortage first.
    In Cedar Grove, public shower and laundry facilities have been closed as conservation measures. Grant Grove on the rim of Kings Canyon is the closest shower for Cedar Grove visitors, campers, and thru-hikers (a one-hour drive).
    Elevated levels of turbidity have been found in drinking water sources in Cedar Grove so the public is being asked to boil water or consider using bottled water. The Cedar Grove and Grant Grove markets sell the single-serving bottles and water by the gallon.
    The oaks and other trees in Cedar Grove’s Sentinel Campground are showing effects of drought and may soon become a management dilemma. Park forestry experts are currently identifying potentially hazardous trees and when and if any might need to be removed.
    Advanced reservations are no longer being accepted for Dorst Campground because that water system could fail in the near future. A limited number of campsites are available first-come, first served, for a maximum stay of two nights.

Fire on the Congress Trail

   The week after we passed through the area, a fire was discovered along the Congress Trail between the Senate Group and House Group of Big Trees. Aptly called the Congress Fire, it was discovered July 5 burning in the crown of an unnamed giant sequoia.
    Proving an absolute ability to survive any and all things, this fire has reportedly been smoldering in this tree since last summer, a holdout of the 183-acre Circle Meadow Fire that was ignited on June 26, 2012.
    Park fire specialists say they don’t know of an instance when this has happened previously. The only plausible explanation is that this fire smoldered through the winter and increased in intensity as the weather warmed. The drought conditions of the past winter created the conditions that allowed this fire to continue to burn within the tree.
    The Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park receives an average of 30 inches of precipitation during the months of January through April. During this period in 2013, only eight inches of precipitation were recorded.
    Because the smoldering giant sequoia continues to intermittently emit smoke in the uppermost portions of the tree and a few branches have fallen, a short section of the Congress Trail between the House and Senate groups of Big Trees has been closed. Most of the trail remains open, however, and all of the famous trees, including the House and Senate groups, can still be visited.
    There are currently no plans to suppress the fire although any branches and duff burning beneath the tree will be extinguished. The potential for this fire to spread is low since the surrounding area was burned in the previous summer.

Work in progress (photo caption)

   Renovations to the Congress Trail in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park are ongoing. The entire loop trail of over two miles that begins and ends at the General Sherman Tree is paved and travels through the heart of the famous Giant Forest Grove of Big Trees. It is potentially wheelchair-accessible although there are some hilly sections and protuberances in the pavement where root systems and weather fluctuations ensure that upkeep is a perennial process. This trail is a can’t-miss for park visitors.

Nomination period open for November election

   Several local public offices will have seats up for grabs during the fall election season. Those interested in jumping into the ring of local politics may now file the paperwork necessary to be on the ballot.
    In Three Rivers, two seats will be on the ballot for the Community Services District and three seats (two for veterans) are available on the Memorial District board.
    Locally, hundreds of people depend on the Three Rivers Memorial Building, which is governed by the five-member board. It is a hub of activities for the Three Rivers Senior League, Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, Lions and Woman’s clubs, and others.
    In addition, one commissioner position is open on the Woodlake Fire District and two seats on that city’s Memorial District. In Lemon Cove, there are two seats vacant on the Memorial District and three seats on the Sanitation District.
Potential candidates may file through Friday, Aug. 9, in the Elections Division at Government Plaza, 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia.
    The Elections Division office hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Fridays, 8 a.m. to noon. On Friday, Aug. 9, there will be extended hours to 5 p.m.

Upgrades coming to local playgrounds

   First 5 of Tulare County will be providing six grants to support infant health, early childhood development, and school readiness at preschool and healthcare sites throughout the county.  One of the grants will be used toward playground supplies at the new River Kids Preschool in Three Rivers.
    The funds are earmarked for playground blocks. First 5 says studies demonstrate that block play leads to improved math performances in later grades and encourage group play.
    This grant and all First 5 projects are funded through Proposition 10 cigarette tax funds.
    In other playground news, work on the Three Rivers School primary-grades playground has begun in preparation for the new equipment funded through a KABOOM! Playground Grant of $15,000. The new play structure is scheduled to be installed during August.

Hiking the Parks:

Giant sequoias (photo gallery)

By Sarah Elliott

   Last week’s hike was a challenging one (Hiking the Parks: “Spring Lake,” July 12, 2013) and certainly not for everyone. This week’s hike is for everyone because it’s what all who enter Sequoia National Park come to see: really big trees.
    We embarked on this journey in the morning hours on a Sunday a few weeks back.   Although in the heart of Giant Forest during peak visitor season, we once again avoided seeing no more than a handful of other people. What we did see was the sun rise on Crescent Meadow and endless fields of lupine in bloom, carpeting the forest floor with brilliant color.
    We departed from the Crescent Meadow parking lot and, without a map, followed trail signs to the General Sherman Tree. The out-and-back trek is about 4.5 miles total.
    There are several routes that will take hikers to and from these destinations. We took the Crescent Trail to Circle Meadow, then skirted the west side of the meadow until we reached the Congress Trail, which took us to the Sherman Tree.
    All junctions are well-signed with directions and mileages, so it’s possible to hike as much or as little as time and stamina allow.


Dorris Pooley
1921 ~ 2013

    Dorris Clifford Pooley of Three Rivers passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Visalia due to complications from a stroke that she suffered on June 15. She was 91.
    A public visitation will be held Sunday, July 28, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Webb-Sanders Funeral Home, 163 S. Mirage Ave., Lindsay. A public graveside service will be held Monday, July 29, at 10 a.m., at the Lindsay-Strathmore Cemetery, 639 S. Foothill Ave., Lindsay.
    Dorris was born November 26, 1921, in Berkeley to Kenneth Ross Clifford and Dorothy Miller Clifford. She was the youngest of three children.
    Dorris was raised on the family farm west of Strathmore with her parents; two brothers, Kenneth Clifford Jr. and Norman Clifford; and cousin Jack Miller. She attended Prairie Center Grade School and Strathmore Union High School.
    She graduated from the College of the Pacific (present-day University of the Pacific) in Stockton with a degree in education. Following her graduation from college, Dorris taught elementary school in Fresno briefly before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in January 1944 during World War II.
    She was a member of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) stationed in Pasco, Wash., and worked in the control tower. She was an air traffic controller for Navy pilots who were being trained for day and night aircraft carrier landings.
    While in Pasco, Dorris met her future husband, Richard Pooley of Hood River, Ore. She completed her service in January 1946.
    In June 1946, she and Richard were married in Stockton. Following the birth of her two children, William Pooley and John Pooley, the couple settled in Portland, Ore., where she furthered her education to become a speech therapist.
    Dorris returned to teaching in 1955, this time as a speech therapist for Portland Public Schools. She eventually taught in the special education program.
    In 1978, Dorris moved back to Tulare County where she took up residence in the family vacation home in Three Rivers, the home that she and her brothers had built on their parents’ property in 1965. She continued her career by teaching special education for Visalia Unified School District.
   Dorris retired from her 31-year teaching career in 1986 and enjoyed the time she had to follow her many passions. She loved working in her garden along the Kaweah River.
    Sewing was her lifelong hobby and as an accomplished seamstress she always had numerous projects in the works. After retirement she took up square dancing where her homemade dresses were always better than her ability to follow the calls.
Three Rivers was always the place she called home and the place she loved so dearly.
    Dorris was preceded in death by her parents, brother Kenneth Clifford Jr., and her son, John Randolph Pooley.
    She is survived by her son, William Pooley, and wife Ingrid of Aloha, Ore., and Three Rivers; and brother Norman Clifford of Concrete, Wash.




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
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