the News - Friday, July 31, 2009
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
IN THE JULY 31 PRINT EDITION:
in Mineral King:
business, all pleasure
gallery of newly completed Mineral King mural,
at the Mineral King Preservation Society picnic,
the John Krebs Wilderness dedication ceremony
Slicky overrun with swimmers
It’s a Three Rivers ritual for
as long as anyone can remember. When temperatures
soar on summer afternoons, locals and visitors alike,
mostly from towns in the hot, dusty valley, flock
to area swimming holes.
The pressure to find parking and then
some riverfront space for ice chest, beach towels,
dozens of family members, and carloads of teens can
be overwhelming. In fact, according to one riverfront
business owner, Margaret Roberts of Rio Sierra Riverhouse,
located just above the upper pool at Slicky, it’s
getting crazy out there.
“Last weekend, it was unbelievable. There were
kids going back and forth making beer runs, and at
least one fistfight,” Margaret said. “I’m
afraid this weekend that the normally peaceful river
scene here is going to explode.”
Margaret says she’s had to hire
a security guard to patrol her property to ensure
that her paying guests don’t get caught up in
the mix that includes Valley folks from every town
and some from as far away as Fresno. There are no
trash containers or toilet facilities near Slicky
so all those visitors are obviously impacting water
“Some of the folks actually bring toilet paper
down to the river,” Margaret said. “When
I ask them where they go when nature calls they say
‘in the river.’”
The human waste in the water is one obvious
problem and trash along the waterfront is another.
Margaret and a contingent of locals who frequent Slicky
remove mind-boggling amounts of trash daily that include
everything from soiled diapers, beer and liquor bottles,
to every kind of fast-food container.
But the trashing of the river is just
the tip of the iceberg. Margaret is convinced that
where there are crowds of people consuming untold
amounts of alcohol, eventually there will be trouble.
A number of local residents and business
owners have called the Sheriff’s Department
to report problems recently only to be told that deputies
can only respond to a reported crime. Margaret says
she’s worried what might happen, so she has
requested a special meeting with Sheriff Bill Wittman
to ask for more deputies.
The attendant problems at Slicky have
been building all season because of other area closures
and the new fees at Slick Rock. It’s just less
hassle for river swimmers to use Slicky.
The word is out, according to the Three
Rivers kids who use Slicky. Directions to the site
in Three Rivers are posted on social networking sites
like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
“I want to make it clear to the local kids who
use Slicky: you are not the problem,” Margaret
said. “But there is going to be trouble or someone
getting hit crossing the highway. I want to see more
deputies here during the busiest times, so that doesn’t
Comfort Inn burglarized
It’s one of the unpleasant parts
of every summer season. There are lots of tourists
and carloads of visitors here daily. Add to the mix
locals who come and go to work or who meet friends
just to hang out.
In summertime, it’s not unusual
for someone to be out late at night or to be in the
parking area at the Comfort Inn and Suites. Apparently,
someone was in the area around 1:30 a.m. on Friday,
July 24 and noticed an unlocked window directly behind
the inn’s front desk.
That window looks out onto the parking
area and is located in a separate office of the inn.
Using that window, someone apparently gained entry
to the premises and removed at least one check and
The loss was estimated at $450. The night
desk clerk, according to the owner, was in the front
lobby and never heard or noticed anyone in the office
or near the premises around that time.
The owner also said that footage from
surveillance cameras is currently being reviewed and
may have recorded the night’s activity. At
least one other Sierra Drive business, Sierra Sporting
Goods near Yokohl Valley road, reported a burglary
the same night.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department
is investigating these cases and is advising all property
and business owners to be especially vigilant during
the busy summer season. Anyone with information about
these cases or any crime is asked to call the Sheriff’s
dispatcher at 733-6211.
Fire discovered in Middle Fork
The Granite Fire was discovered on the
evening of Wednesday, July 29, after a series of lightning
strikes occurred throughout Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks. It is in Sequoia National Park near
Granite Creek in the upper Redwood Meadow area of
the Middle Fork drainage of the Kaweah River.
The fire is exhibiting active behavior
and has a high potential for growth because of continuous
fuels and rollouts. As of Thursday morning, it was
reported to be just over an acre in size, but remaining
Although there are no immediate threats
to life or property, the Granite Fire will be contained
due to its high potential for growth, as well as possible
smoke impacts on the parks and Three Rivers.
According to Deb Schweizer, parks fire
information office, there are one to two-foot flame
lengths with a single tree torching. Members of Crew
91 were inserted near the fire by helicopter Wednesday
night to begin efforts to line and contain the fire,
The remainder of the crew was flown in
Thursday with a helicopter to support the ground operations.
The crew estimated that the fire would be 40-percent
contained on Thursday.
Due to significant lightning activity
in the Sierra this week, Deb said that more fires
could be detected in the upcoming days.
The following five fires were reported
on last week (“Lightning ignites five backcountry
fires,” July 24, 2009). Here is an update:
Horse Fire— The
Horse Fire, discovered July 19 at the headwaters of
Horse Creek in the vicinity of Hockett Meadow in southern
Sequoia, has expanded to 13 acres in size. It is burning
at 9,100 feet elevation, and two fire monitors are
onsite to assess fuels and its potential for growth.
Burnt Fire— This
fire north of Tehipite Valley in Kings Canyon National
Park is a half-acre in size and has been classified
This fire in Kings Canyon remains at less than an
acre and has been placed in inactive status.
Laurel Fire— This
fire was discovered in the Kern River drainage in
Sequoia, is less than a tenth of an acre, and has
been declared inactive.
Red Spur Fire—
Also inactive, this fire is also located in the Kern
drainage, near Mt. Kaweah.
In other parks fire news—
The Big Baldy Trail along the Generals Highway in
Kings Canyon National Park on the boundary of Giant
Sequoia National Monument has been closed since the
Hart Prescribed Fire was ignited July 8. It reopened
to the public this week as fire activity in this area
has diminished significantly.
Park fire managers warn that there are
still some hot spots within sight of the trail and
hikers should remain on the trail in these areas.
The Hart Tree Trail is the only trail closure still
in effect; all other trails in the Redwood Canyon
area remain open.
A 12-acre mechanical thinning project
commenced this week near Atwell Mill Campground in
the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. The
project is intended to provide defensible space protection
in the area.
On Tuesday, July 28, a lead truck scouting
the route up the Mineral King Road couldn’t
prevent a Mayflower flatbed container truck from getting
stuck on the very first curve. The mishap, which occurred
at 2:40 p.m., closed the Mineral King Road for nearly
two hours. Kevin Hendricks, Sequoia-Kings Canyon’s
new chief ranger and owner of the cargo, had to wait
a little longer than anticipated for the delivery
of his household belongings.
Killer on the lake
By Brian Rothhammer
The killer cannot be seen, heard, or
Two 10-year-old girls were enjoying a
day on the lake with their family. Unaware of the
lurking danger, the girls entered the water.
Behind the family’s 20-foot ski boat, the girls
were doing some “teak surfing.” The third
time out, a passenger in the boat noticed that one
of the girls was not responding to his calls.
Hauling both girls aboard, the parents
gave immediate CPR to their children as their brother
gave the boat full throttle toward shore. Only a flawless
rapid response by park staff with rangers and ambulance
arriving within five minutes was able to save both
of the girls from a likely death.
The killer slipped away unnoticed. The
operator of the vessel was cited by authorities.
A Hollywood suspense thriller? No. Who
is this killer and why was the boat operator cited?
This incident took place recently at
Grand Teton National Park, Wyo. The killer is carbon
monoxide (CO). The unknowing accomplice in this near
tragedy was the boat operator. The violation was his
part in the act of teak surfing.
Teak surfing (also known as teak boarding)
is an increasingly common practice of hanging on to
the swim platform behind a boat as the boat idles,
then gradually gets underway. As the speed increases,
the “surfer” lets go of the swim platform
(often made of teak) and body surfs the wake created
by the boat.
Sounds like a lot of fun until the monoxide
kicks in, and the killer works fast.
The problem with carbon monoxide is that
blood has 210 to 250 times the affinity for CO than
it has for oxygen. Simply put, carbon monoxide sticks
to hemoglobin (red blood cells) in the lungs, and
oxygen can’t get past it. The victim suffocates.
This can happen very quickly and with
“They can be riding for just a minute or two
before they get the poisoning,” said Roland
Rojas of the Tulare County Lake Patrol at Lake Kaweah.
Rojas and the Lake Patrol are very aware
of the danger involved with teak surfing and of its
“We have literature and pamphlets [at the Kaweah
Heritage Visitor Center] that boaters can read,”
Along with urging boaters to avail themselves
of all safety regulations, Rojas advises that “teak
surfing is against the law.”
After the August 2000 CO poisoning deaths
of two young brothers at Lake Powell in Arizona, the
Department of the Interior had extensive studies performed
by the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health. After three years of compiling information
at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the resulting
in-depth report released by NIOSH provided some alarming
The report reveals that CO levels can
be as high as 26,700 parts per million (ppm) on ski-boat
swim platforms during teak surfing. That is over 22
times the 1,200 ppm that is considered by NIOSH to
be immediately dangerous to life and health.
Houseboats, and houseboat generators
in particular, present CO hazards as well. In 1994,
a child was overcome while swimming near a houseboat
on Lake Powell.
The child was exposed to CO fumes for
only three minutes before succumbing. The child died
as another was able to regain consciousness and swim
The culprit in that case was a generator
with an exhaust terminus under the extended rear deck
of the boat. Between 1994 and 2002, nine CO deaths
were reported on Lake Powell. Seven were caused by
this same design flaw.
Between 1990 and 2004, over 80 CO poisonings
occurred inside houseboats on Lake Powell alone. In
50 of those cases, CO detectors were verified to have
been on board, but in only one incident did the alarm
Boating presents a series of hazards,
and the sneaking, lurking danger of the silent killer
carbon monoxide is taking the lives of more unsuspecting
boaters and their guests each year. No deaths from
CO poisoning have yet occurred on Lake Kaweah, and
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with the Tulare
County Lake Patrol are determined to keep it that
“Carbon monoxide is a killer. Do not swim around
a boat with a generator or motor running. Teak surfing
can put you under forever.”
These words are printed in bold type
on the back of trading cards provided to young visitors
of Lake Kaweah by Senior Park Ranger Matt Murphy.
They are, literally, words to live by.
Life jackets are free for
children at Lake Kaweah
Suppose you just arrived at Lake Kaweah,
are putting your coolers, towels, and such into the
boat, and going through your “did I forget anything”
Got the shades. Plenty of sunscreen.
Chips and dips. But, geez!, there’s three kids
and only two child-size lifejackets. What do you do?
The Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center, located
at the Lemon Hill marina, has 12 life jackets for
children available to loan free of charge for just
The Life Jacket Loaner Program was started
in 1998 by the BoatU.S. Foundation (Boat Owners Association
of the United States) and operates at over 500 locations
throughout the nation.
All you need to do is talk to the friendly
folks at the Visitor Center, provide your name, phone
and drivers license number, and fit the young person
for the proper size.
“We do ask that you please return the jackets
prior to closing time [4 p.m.] or make arrangements
at the Kaweah Marina,” said Carol Butler, a
volunteer at the visitor center.
Life jackets are required on Lake Kaweah
for all occupants of a watercraft, and must be worn
by all occupants under the age of 12 while a boat
is in motion.
The Art Co-Op features
Artists are lucky. They get to work at
home or wherever the inspiration hits them.
But there is one thing missing in this
ideal working scenario. A storefront in which to display
and sell their completed projects day in, day out.
A collaboration of area artists have
solved this dilemma, and as of Friday, Aug. 7, the
doors will open on The Art Co-Op in Three Rivers.
There are six artists who are in on the
ground floor of this venture: Tina St. John (see “Welcome
to My Food Column” on page 5), Jana Botkin (see
pages 6-7 for a sample of recently completed work),
Nesi Mesman (see this week’s Neighbor Profile),
Pamela Lockhart, Kim Elia, and Sam McKinney.
The Art Co-Op is a cooperative of artists
contributing time, money and, most importantly, their
“The artists involved will have ‘bread-and-butter’
art, which are pieces of art that are affordable to
everyone,” said Tina St. John, artist and Co-Op
The advantage of having affordable local
art is that it makes great year-round gifts, as well
as a memorable, one-of-a-kind souvenir of a Kaweah
Beginning August 7, The Art Co-Op will
be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. One of the artists
will always be manning the shop during regular hours,
so there will be the opportunity to discuss a potential
purchase with an expert.
Other artists will also be involved in
the Co-Op as one will be featured on a revolving basis.
The August featured artist is Ginny Wilson of Blue
The public is invited to attend next
Friday’s grand-opening reception with the theme
of “A Celebration of Art on the River.”
Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
For more information, call 561-1307.
Makeover coming for Chamber website
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s
comprehensive new website is scheduled to be completed
in late August and will expand local exposure on the
Upon the unveiling of the site, there
will be advertising opportunities for businesses to
promote themselves to all viewers of the site in addition
to the free listing and information they will receive
as a benefit of their membership.
The chamber is expanding its commitment
to local events by providing an interactive community
calendar that will be downloadable from the new website.
In this regard, it’s important that chamber
members and community groups update their information
and photos to launch the site by the end of August.
Keep watching the Chamber Corner for the official
More benefits, projects, and activities
are in development, and we encourage businesses both
small and large to explore the new opportunities arising
from the efforts of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber
For membership information, contact Linda
Drouet at 561-2000.
Still time to file for local
Altogether, there are six seats available
on two local boards in the upcoming November election.
But if not enough candidates file to run by Friday,
Aug. 7, then the races won’t even appear on
the ballot and directors will be appointed rather
than elected by voters.
The Three Rivers Memorial District has
four seats up for re-election. The Community Services
Forms for declarations of candidacy may
be obtained from the Registrar of Voters, Elections
Division, 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia (across from
Welcome to my food column
The (hungry) kids of summer
Tina St. John
Summertime and hungry kids go hand-in-hand. I remember
when my kids were young and I would take them to the
river for the entire day.
Their little tummies seemed like bottomless
pits. I would pack a cooler filled with watermelon,
bagels, and cream cheese. The bagels and cream cheese
would fill their bellies, and the watermelon would
wash it all down and quench their thirst.
Fast-forward 15 years. Summertime is
here, they’re a whole lot bigger now, and so
are their appetites.
Their tastes have changed. But nothing
beats mom’s cooking when you’ve been away
for two whole semesters eating pizza, ramen noodles
and, yes, bagels and cream cheese.
So when they’re not in school and
are home more often, which for most moms seems to
be during the summer, how do you keep up with feeding
them? The refrigerator seems to be like a feature
As soon as you get back from the grocery
store, it’s as though you never went. After
all, they’re growing like our flowers and vegetable
gardens, so they need nurturing right?
Well, I’ve included a Survival
Kit with fast, healthy, and easy snacks to help keep
you from having to take out a loan for your summer
food bill. Sort of like a teaser trailer to hold them
over until dinner is served.
On another subject, if readers are interested
in signing a petition to reauthorize The Child’s
Nutritional Act back into school lunches, go to:
BEST SUMMER SALSA
1 can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeño pepper (seeds removed)
1 small bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Pinch of brown sugar
Juice of 2 limes
½ small red onion
Blend diced tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, cilantro,
garlic, sugar, and lime until well blended. Dice red
onion and add along with salt. Refrigerate.
You can serve this with:
Avocado and beans sprinkled with cheese
Recipe from Tina St. John’s
“Welcome to My Food Column,” published
July 31, 2009, in THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH.
LIGHT AND EASY VEGETARIAN CHILI
3 tbs. of olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 small onion
1 large green pepper
1 large red or yellow pepper
1 large clove of garlic
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 cans of pinto beans
tbs. chili powder
Sauté onion and peppers in oil until onions
are translucent. Dice garlic and add to onions and
peppers for 1 minute. Add to tomatoes, beans, and
chili powder. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Salt
Recipe from Tina St.
John’s “Welcome to My Food Column,”
published July 31, 2009, in THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH.
GRAPES WITH REALLY THICK YOGURT DIP
Grapes or any other type of fruit
1 quart plain yogurt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
Lemon rind, grated very fine
Place the cheesecloth in a colander and pour in the
yogurt. Make sure there is space between the colander
and the pan that the colander is sitting in. Cover
and refrigerator overnight. Next day, empty the whey
from the pan. Place the strained yogurt in a bowl
and mix the syrup and lemon rind together. This is
a wonderful dip for any fruit. You can also make this
a savory dip for veggies (carrot or celery sticks)
by adding herbs instead of syrup. Also if you don’t
care for lemon rind, add vanilla extract to taste
Recipe from Tina St.
John’s “Welcome to My Food Column,”
published July 31, 2009, in THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH.
Soda: Liquid candy
The Center for Science in the Public
Interest, a nutrition and food-safety watchdog group,
has launched a web-based Liquid Candy Tax Calculator
to show policymakers, activists, and media exactly
how much money states and the federal government could
raise by levying taxes on soft drinks. The calculator
can be viewed at www.cspinet.org/liquidcandy/.
While California and several other states
already tax soda, a new federal excise tax of one
penny per 12-ounce soda could generate more than $1.5
billion per year, according to the calculator. A steeper
tax of one penny per ounce could raise roughly $16
billion a year — an amount that would make a
serious down payment on a comprehensive healthcare
CSPI estimates that taxing soda at that
amount would also reduce consumption by 13 percent
overall and perhaps more among children, which would
help slow the obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics.
“Soda and non-carbonated soft drinks are basically
liquid candy, providing nothing of positive benefit
to the diet, just empty calories,” said CSPI
executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Soda
is cheaper than dirt, we consume too much of it, and
it causes expensive health problems. The question
is why has it gone untaxed for so long at the federal
Leading healthcare and nutrition advocates
are urging Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus
(D-Mont.) to tax soft drinks to help fund healthcare
“While many factors contribute to weight gain,
soft drinks are the only food or beverage shown to
have a direct link to obesity, which in turn can lead
to hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, Type 2 diabetes,
cancer, arthritis, and other health and psychosocial
problems,” the advocates wrote in a letter to
Baucus. “In addition, consumption of sugary
beverages can cause tooth decay and dental erosion.”
Besides CSPI, groups signing on to the
letter include the American Public Health Association,
the California Center for Public Health Advocacy,
Consumers Union, Partnership for Prevention, Shape
Up America!, and Trust for America’s Health.
Health warnings on soda
CSPI says that one out of every 10 boys
consumes 66 ounces of soda per day, equivalent to
five-and-a-half 12-ounce cans, or about 800 calories.
One out of every 20 boys consumes the equivalent of
seven cans per day, or about 1,000 calories.
Girls reportedly consume more than two
cans per day on average.
“How did a solution of high-fructose corn syrup,
water, and artificial flavors come to be the default
beverage?” asked Jacobson.
CSPI has filed a petition with the Food
and Drug Administration, asking the agency to require
a series of rotating health notices on containers
of all non-diet soft drinks — carbonated and
non-carbonated — containing more than 13 grams
of refined sugars per 12 ounces (the typical 12-ounce
soda contains 40 grams). CSPI said those messages
—The U.S. Government recommends that you drink
less (non-diet) soda to help prevent weight gain,
tooth decay, and other health problems.
—To help protect your waistline and your teeth,
consider drinking diet sodas or water.
—Drinking soft drinks instead of milk or calcium-fortified
beverages may increase your risk of brittle bones
CSPI also said that caffeinated drinks
should bear a notice that reads, “This drink
contains caffeine, which is a mildly addictive stimulant
drug. Not appropriate for children.”