this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
firestorm rages on
A major wildland fire dubbed
the Telegraph Fire is burning five miles
north of Mariposa and west of Yosemite
National Park, but since Wednesday firefighters
are reporting that they may have turned
the corner on the huge blaze that was
sparked by target shooting on Friday,
July 25. On Wednesday night some of the
4,000 evacuees been given permission to
return to their neighborhoods in the vicinity
of Highway 140 and Mariposa, 10 miles
west of an entrance to Yosemite National
The huge firestorm, which
has burned nearly 30,000 acres, is still
burning within 10 miles of park boundaries
and has destroyed at least 25 homes. Several
communities outside the park where Park
Service employees traditionally own homes,
have been threatened by the inferno.
“It’s really a sad time, especially
for those of us [NPS personnel] who have
worked at Yosemite,” said Deb Schweizer,
fire education specialist at Sequoia and
Kings Canyon National Parks who worked
for eight years at Yosemite. “I
know several people who lost homes during
this terrible tragedy.”
More than 4,000 firefighters,
some from as far away as Greece, remained
on the lines of the huge blaze that is
only beginning to be contained. Schweizer
said she was surprised that the local
parks were able to keep two hotshot crews
on the Kings Canyon fire that is presently
the only fire burning in this area that
has the potential to grow into a more
One veteran Cal Fire spokesperson
said he had never seen such extreme fire
activity this early in the fire season.
“We’re actually just getting
into the traditional fire season, so the
Telegraph Fire is just a preview of what’s
in store for the remainder of the summer,”
Another firefighter on the
line said the fire is behaving strangely
and is very sporadic.
“When it first came through the
Midpines area, it sounded like a train
going by,” the firefighter said.
Power was restored briefly
midweek to El Portal and parts of Yosemite
National Park where it has been off since
the fire began. The local
post office and a few essential businesses
have been operating on generators for
more than a week.
During a typical summer season,
more than 4,000 visitors a day enter through
the west entrance of the park. Hwy. 140
has been closed intermittently but most
tourists are still choosing to enter the
popular park even though its scenic views
in and around Yosemite Valley are mostly
shrouded in smoke.
Other park destinations,
including Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona, and
the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, White
Wolf, and Crane Flat, are unaffected.
“People are still out there hiking,
the campgrounds are full, and everyone
is taking the smoke in stride,”
said Scott Gediman, Yosemite National
The tourists are still in
the park, but the uncertainty of the approaching
firestorm is causing some tension and
lots of visitors to shorten their stay.
Along with the wafting smoke that pales
in comparison as to what lies northeast
of Fresno, some of those visitors are
showing up in Three Rivers and at Sequoia
After an extremely dry spring,
California has been dogged by a record
number of wildfires since June. Hot dry
conditions turned dozens of lightning
strikes into prolonged fire fights. Resources
are already stretched thin and local officials
are reporting that the blazes in the current
fire season have already cost the State
of California nearly $600 million at the
end of the fiscal year, July 31.
The Tulare County Planning
Commission closed one public hearing and
voted to open another in what’s
become a very long, and likely to get
longer, review of the General Plan 2030
Update and its Draft Environmental Impact
Report (DEIR). The latest round in the
County’s general plan process was
held Wednesday, July 23, in the meeting
room of the commission at the south Mooney
Boulevard government center.
Dave Bryant, a division manager
for the Tulare County planning department,
told the commission and a packed gallery
that to date the county has received 94
“County staff is now working to
determine which technical studies may
or may not be needed to complete the DEIR,”
Bryant listed the following
areas relating to specific comments that
cited a need for more data: aesthetics,
agriculture, air quality, biology, cultural
resources, geology, climate change impacts,
hydrology, land use, public services,
transportation, and utilities.
As a result, Bryant is meeting
with the county’s general plan consultant
to determine the scope and cost for more
studies to be included in the final general
plan. The initial comment period on the
DEIR was closed April 14 but several comments
received after that date have also been
At Wednesday’s hearing,
11 more respondents entered comments into
the public record. Terese Lane, a Visalia
teacher and City of Visalia planning commissioner
urged the county “not to throw out
the baby with the bathwater.”
“In the County’s general plan
we need to focus on the significant and
unavoidable impacts,” said Ms. Lane.
“Let’s avoid a rush to judgment.”
Lane said the significant
issues are traffic, air quality, water
storage, energy, wastewater, and storm
water. In other words, she said, there
needs to be a complete infrastructure
Lane ended with a rhetorical
question: “Can the County of Tulare
really control water use?”
Other speakers echoed Lane’s
concerns. Laurie Schwaller of Three Rivers
said people in Tulare County want a sustainable,
“We need to keep that vision,”
Following the public comment
period, six of the seven commissioners
made brief summary statements. There was
a consensus that some progress has been
made but there is still much to be accomplished
before the completion of the General Plan
The commission’s vote
directed the planning department to re-publish
the notice of the next round of public
hearings for a date and time to be determined
5.4 quake rocks
It was felt in a wide swath
from Los Angeles to Nevada and Arizona,
but Tuesday’s 5.4-magnitude earthquake
was not even close to being the “Big
One.” That announcement was made
by a spokesperson for the USGS (United
States Geological Survey) in the aftermath
of numerous temblors that shook buildings,
rattled dishes, and frayed nerves.
More than 50 aftershocks
have followed since the earthquake struck
shortly before noon on Tuesday, July 29.
The epicenter was located in Chino Hills,
some nine miles deep and 30 miles east
of downtown Los Angeles.
USGS officials called the
series of temblors a drill for the Big
One that is forecast to occur in California
within 30 years. Since 1991, there have
been 14 quakes with higher magnitudes
than the Chino Hills event registered
Scientists label the years
since the deadly Northridge quake of 1994
as a relatively quiet seismic period.
That quake measured 6.7 but was not the
most powerful earthquake in recent years.
The Landers Quake of 1991
claims that distinction with a magnitude
7.3. Two other strong quakes of 7.2 have
been experienced in 1992 at Cape Mendocino
and in 2005 off the coast of Northern
For most Southern California
residents on Tuesday there was a loud
boom followed by several seconds of intense
rocking. After the Northridge quake of
1994, hundreds of San Fernando Valley
residents relocated north to the San Joaquin
Valley, including several new residents
who came to Three Rivers.
Geological experts have long
debated whether a major quake could occur
in Kaweah Country. The effects of several
major quakes since 1952 (Tejon, Coalinga,
and Mammoth) have been felt here but no
major quakes nearby have ever been recorded.
The 1906 quake in San Francisco
caused major snowslides in Mineral King
that wiped out the Smith House Hotel,
many cabins, and several other buildings.
One researcher, who worked as a park ranger
in Sequoia National Park during the 1980s,
reported that it is still prudent to have
earthquake insurance in Three Rivers because
there is a dormant fault that runs near
the surface in the vicinity of Ash Peaks.
State outlaws trans
When a state has a governor
that is devoted to health and fitness,
it makes sense that its residents would
learn to become healthier and more fit
as a result. On Friday, July 25, Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 97, which
will phase out the use of trans fats in
all California restaurants beginning in
2010 and from all baked goods by 2011.
Scientific evidence demonstrates
a strong association between the consumption
of artificial trans fat and the development
of coronary heart disease and stroke,
as well as other chronic conditions such
as Type 2 diabetes. Research also suggests
that children who consume trans fats at
age three or four will develop heart disease
sooner; during studies, some kids as young
as eight already have the high cholesterol
and blood fats that clog arteries.
Some foods that contain trans
fats are fast food, stick margarine, microwave
popcorn, pop tarts, and commercially-prepared
fish sticks, cakes, candy, and cookies.
According to the New England
Journal of Medicine, eliminating artificial
trans fats from the food supply could
prevent between six and 19 percent of
heart attacks and related deaths each
year. Coronary heart disease is California’s
leading cause of death.
Gov. Schwarzenegger has put
in place some of the nation’s most
innovative strategies to promote health
and nutrition, including:
—Establishing the toughest school
nutrition reforms in the nation and taking
junk food and sugary sodas off school
—Banning trans fat and food fried
in unhealthy oils in school meals.
—Investing millions of dollars in
fresh fruits and vegetables in school
—Adopting the first-ever physical
—Convening a Summit on Health, Nutrition
and Obesity where leaders of the public
and private sector make commitments to
change business practices to promote health.
—Reinvigorating the Governor’s
Council on Physical Fitness and Sports,
which focuses on rewarding positive leadership
for implementing healthy living in youth.
—Proposing a comprehensive healthcare
reform plan that emphasizes prevention
Although some cities have
banned trans fat, California is the first
state to do so.
Tehipite area of Kings Canyon
After a series of lightning
storms passed through Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks last month, fire
managers on a reconnaissance flight detected
a fire above the Tehipite Valley. The
so-named Tehipite Fire is approaching
200 acres in size, burning above the remote
valley between 5,400 and 7,400 feet in
The fire is being monitored
but allowed to burn in vegetation that
includes mixed conifer and live oak. Although
steep terrain and the remote area make
fire response difficult, its proximity
to the park’s boundary with Sierra
National Forest means that efforts are
being made to keep it from spreading outside
the park, but there are no threats to
private property or structures.
About 75 personnel from the
Kings-Canyon-based Arrowhead Hotshots
and the Fulton Hotshot crew from Sequoia
National Forest are assigned to the fire.
As of this week, the section
of trail between Simpson Meadow on the
east and Sierra National Forest on the
west that travels through the heart of
Tehipite Valley was closed due to the
At the beginning of this
week, the fire was burning below the trail
but by now was expected to have crossed
the trail as it continues burning uphill
and toward the south and west boundaries
of the park.
Five other lightning-caused
fires were also discovered but have been
declared out or are showing little activity.
This is in contrast to active lightning
fires throughout the rest of the state
that kept firefighters busy throughout
All eyes are
By John Elliott
Unless you have been on an
extended trip in the backcountry, most
likely you are among the millions around
the world experiencing the hype for what
will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable
Olympic spectacles. Being billed as “One
World, One Dream” the XXIX Olympiad
is set to open August 8 in China.
If you have tickets for any
of the August 8-to-24 Olympic events you
are indeed fortunate and will be among
those standing in line at a tipping point
A tipping point because these
Olympics will afford an incredible glimpse
into China and its modern capital —
Beijing. The games, a coming-out party
for one the world’s great cities,
will also mark the acceptance of Beijing
as a global capital and a hint of the
role the Chinese and its 1.7 billion citizens
will play in the future of the planet.
Beijing, the setting for
the games, is a gaudy, modern city of
17 million. Years of planning and redevelopment
have gone into the preparation for these
games. When this mass of humanity gathers
in such close quarters there will be issues
— air quality, mass transit, disaster
preparedness, anti-terrorism —all
realms of activity that the global community
I am somewhat ashamed to
admit how little I know about Chinese
culture and the history of their civilization.
So for a crash course and some of the
back story of these Olympics it was fortuitous
that one of my favorite authors, Simon
Winchester, produced a well-timed book
of inestimable value.
The 316-page book The
Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story
of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked
the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom (HarperCollins,
2008, 316 pages, hardcover, $27.95), according
to one reviewer, makes scholarship positively
sexy. What I enjoy most about Winchester
is that he is a master at telling a complex
story so that it is lucid and compelling.
The China story details the
career of Joseph Needham, a brilliant
Cambridge biochemist who became obsessed
with everything Chinese in the 1930s,
decades before it became fashionable to
do so. His infatuation it seems began
with the allure of a Chinese woman, a
scientist like himself whom he encountered
and fell in love with when she was a Cambridge
curiosity for things Chinese was rooted
in something Francis Bacon once famously
said: The three most important inventions
that profoundly changed the world are
gunpowder, printing, and the compass.
These inventions had all
been made and employed by the Chinese
first and so, Needham soon realized, had
scores of other things like blast furnaces,
arched bridges, crossbows, smallpox vaccinations,
the game of chess, toilet paper, seismoscopes,
wheelbarrows, stirrups, powered flight,
and the list goes on.
In fact, the book contains
a list in Appendix 1 of hundreds of Chinese
inventions and discoveries, which was
originally published in Needham’s
Science and Civilisation in China, Vol.
VII, Part 2.
“The mere fact of seeing them listed
brings home to one the astonishing inventiveness
of the Chinese people,” Needham
wrote a couple of years before his death
His first visit to China
came in 1943 as a liaison for the British
government, an outreach of England’s
academic community. Needham’s
mission was to head up a small task force
to provide support for Chinese scholars
and the universities that were trying
to cope with bombings and the atrocities
of the Japanese occupation.
In China, Needham was enthralled
by the resiliency and inventiveness of
the Chinese people. He noted along with
the rest of the world, China was simply
too large, too mobile, and too resourceful
to ever be permanently occupied or defeated
in a war.
During these years, Needham
singlehandedly encouraged and furnished
badly need supplies for academics who
were trying to survive the war. While
performing this indispensable foreign
service, Needham gathered copious notes
and contacts for a history of technology
that he wanted to produce to explain why
the world looked upon China with so much
Along the way, Needham taught
himself to read and write Chinese, and
this incredible achievement in part guaranteed
the success of his project that consumed
him for the rest of his life. He remains
to this day the best known non-Chinese
personality of 20th-century China.
The contribution Needham
has made to global understanding of the
Chinese may not be known for quite some
time. Certainly it will take longer than
for even the most scholarly among us to
digest Needham’s 24-volume Science
and Civilisation: the first volume was
published in 1954 and the last one published
recently with more in the works. Published
by Cambridge University Press, the landmark
works now stand at 15,000 pages and 3
Even more remarkable than
Needham’s prodigious life’s
work was perhaps this sentiment that he
shared with the Chinese, which he saw
on a giant billboard in rural China in
1948: “Without Haste, Without Fear,
We Conquer the World.”
After 5,000 years of patiently
waiting, watching, and learning, August
2008 may indeed be China’s appointed
time. Joseph Needham would not be dismayed
nor would he be the slightest bit surprised.
By Sarah Elliott
There are two reasons why
it was mandatory for me to read this book.
The first is because I had not yet entered
my teen years by the time the Sixties
gave way to the Seventies, so a lot of
the social and political implications
of those turbulent times went over my
head, but interestingly have influenced
me all the same. In addition, Tom Brokaw,
author of BOOM! Voices of the Sixties:
Personal Reflections on the
‘60s and Today (Random House,
2007, 662 pages, hardcover, $28.95), has
long been a journalistic hero of mine.
If it feels good,
I have read all of Tom’s books,
including The Greatest Generation. While
this previous book about the generation
that grew up in the Depression and fought
in World War II seems that it would be
the opposite of Boom!, there are similarities
since both books are about generations
that changed the course of American history.
The book loosely follows the Sixties;
more exactly the pivotal period from the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy
in 1963 to the resignation of President
Richard M. Nixon in 1974. Tom’s
career as a journalist was just beginning
in those days, and his job allowed him
to cover many of the groundbreaking events
that today define the Sixties.
What Tom determined through
interviews and personal reflection is
that the polarizing two-party chasm that
we deal with in politics today is a direct
result of some of the issues, actions,
and reactions of the Sixties.
Turn on, tune in, drop
At the time, the country was reeling over
the assassinations of President Kennedy
and, five years later, Bobby Kennedy and
Martin Luther King Jr. The controversial
Vietnam War, the draft, and various movements
— civil rights, antiwar, feminism,
free speech — were dividing the
country. A pervasive drug culture, free
love, black power, a music scene with
its songs of rebellion, men with long
hair, and women without bras created a
counterculture that the previous, more
inhibited generation had difficulty grasping.
love, not war
The book is divided into sections that
describe each of the above topics through
the eyes of some who were there. Those
interviewed are well-known figures who
share their retrospect of the Sixties.
The book is illustrated with photographs
of these people, one from the past and
another from the present.
Some who participated have
transcended the decades and remain relevant
today in their careers and message (Senator
Hillary Clinton, Vice President Dick Cheney,
James Taylor, Lorne Michaels, Yvon Chouinard).
Others are less often heard from today,
but their mark on the Sixties remains
(Jack Weinberg, Dolores Huerta, Dick Gregory,
Tommy Smothers). From Bill Clinton to
Karl Rove, it’s obvious that no
one refuses an interview by the venerable
Never trust anyone over thirty
“The Sixties brought us bean sprouts,
brown rice, veggies, yogurt, whole-grain
bread, holistic medicine, and drugs, lots
of drugs – from homegrown marijuana
to laboratory-produced speed and LSD,
from heroin to glue sniffing,” Tom
writes in the introduction. “Drug
use went from an exaggerated fear in the
Fifties, when a little pot was considered
a satanic doomsday, to a badge of honor
in the Sixties.”
If you remember the Sixties,
you weren’t there
In addition to detailing the political
and cultural climate of the Sixties, I
also appreciated the autobiographical
aspects of BOOM!, which revealed some
of Tom Brokaw’s private life and
political persuasions, of which I had
known little about even though I have
followed his career since the mid 1970s.
Do your own thing
For some readers who were there, BOOM!
might not say much that hasn’t been
written about before but the perspectives
are varied and offer personal insight.
The book will assist those who want to
turn back the clock or for others who
are yearning for a connection, a common
cause, and a reason to vote this November.
Give peace a chance!
1938 ~ 2008
Thomas Allen Lahey, a former
resident of Three Rivers, died Tuesday,
June 22, 2008, at Renown Regional Medical
Center in Reno, Nev. He was 69.
Allen was born Aug. 23, 1938,
in Chicago, Ill., to Thomas Patrick Lahey
and Alice L. Dyhrberg. For 38 years, he
was a trans-Pacific captain with United
Al moved to Three Rivers
in 1975 and lived here until relocating
to the Tahoe area in 1990.
Al was preceded in death
by his first wife, Dottie, and his mother,
Alice Doran (1911-2000), both who were
residents of Three Rivers.
He is survived by his wife, Joyce (Collette)
Lahey of Reno; daughters Paula Ingalls
of Fresno and Rachael Collette; sons Kevin,
Nathan, and Tim Collette of Reno; brothers
Paul and William Doran of Illinois; eight
grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
A memorial service was held
at a Reno church on Monday, June 28.
Al was a former board member
of the Woodlake High School Foundation.
Remembrances in his name may be sent to
the Foundation at P.O. Box 475, Woodlake,
1943 ~ 2008
Ester Elaine Rogers of Three
Rivers died Wednesday, July 16, 2008,
in Visalia. She was 65.
Ester was born Jan. 15, 1943,
in Hanford to Harold and Dorothy Rogers.
She was raised in Waukena and attended
Waukena Elementary School and Tulare Union
In 1964, Ester married Richard
Hardeman. The couple resided in Tulare.
She married her second husband
Sherman Rogers, a lawyer from Tulare,
and moved to Three Rivers in 1982.
She was preceded in death
by Sherman Rogers in September 2007.
Ester is survived by her sons, Todd Hardeman
of Three Rivers and Tyne Hardeman of Tulare;
two stepdaughters, Andrea Doherty of Cambridge,
Mass., and Cynthia Rogers, of New York,
N.Y.; and five grandchildren.