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Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam


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In the News - Friday, AUGUST 17, 2007

Transient faces
morals charge

   Like hundreds of California communities, Three Rivers attracts transients, some of whom come to realize that if one must be homeless then it might as well be here.
   Sooner or later, many homeless persons break the law and that may be what happened to Dane William Weatherly last week. Weatherly, 60, whose last known address is Lemon Cove, and who is currently known to be living at a clandestine camp on private property west of Three Rivers, is the town’s most visible transient.
   On Thursday, Aug. 9, at least three individuals allegedly observed Weatherly exposing himself in the vicinity of the Village Market and Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant. According to a report filed by Jim Fansett, Three Rivers resident deputy sheriff, two of those persons have signed a complaint against Weatherly.

  “The District Attorney is currently reviewing the case, and I expect an arrest warrant to be issued charging Weatherly with lewd and lascivious conduct,” Fansett said.
   It’s not Weatherly’s first brush with local law officers. In the last three years, Weatherly has been arrested several times for public intoxication.
   In 2005, during a convention of Hell’s Angels in Three Rivers, Weatherly threatened several of the bikers and had to be forcibly removed from town for his own safety.
   Because of the circumstances in this case, Weatherly is expected to be charged with a misdemeanor, but if convicted could be required to register as a sex offender.

Oak falls, disrupts power

   A fallen oak tree, one-quarter mile east of the Three Rivers Arts Center on North Fork Drive, caused a widespread power outage just before midnight on Friday, August 10. SCE linemen cut the damaged lines shortly after the outage was reported and had power restored to most areas by 2 a.m.
   Several local customers reported intermittent outages and surges throughout the night and the next morning. Power was restored to customers in the immediate vicinity by noon Saturday.
   Several oaks or their large branches have fallen in the Three Rivers area this summer. Because last winter was exceedingly dry with no significant precipitation in the region since March, the local oaks are changing color and dropping their leaves earlier than usual.
   Drought brings on stress in trees. Stressed trees grow slowly and become susceptible to insect attacks and diseases that cannot successfully attack healthy trees, so the long-term consequences of a drought are harmful.
   Stress factors may be more frequent and severe near roadways and homes where trees are often subjected to disturbances associated with human activities. These stress factors often weaken trees so much that they succumb, sometimes suddenly, to the root killing and girdling actions of insects and diseases.
   Since a large oak can drink up to 300 gallons of water per day, soil moisture rapidly becomes depleted under drought conditions. Oaks, like other trees, respond to drought with their own built-in defense mechanisms. Premature leaf drop is one of these techniques.
   Since it is the leaves of the trees that provide the demand for soil moisture, shedding foliage is a method trees use to reduce this demand and lessen the possibility of totally running out of water.
   But usually the progression of decline is slow, occurring over several years, not just one dry winter. Experts say that most oaks that have currently dropped their leaves will recover during the winter and leaf out as normal next spring.


terms begin next week

   Classes for the 165 students enrolled in the Three Rivers K-8 school are set to start Wednesday, Aug. 22. The new semester marks the 81st year that classes have been held at the district’s Sierra Drive site.
   The local district’s high school in Woodlake begins its new school year Monday, Aug. 20, as the two education partners share bus schedules to transport Three Rivers students. John Crabtree, who recently retired as maintenance supervisor at TRUS will continue to serve as a bus driver.
   Teachers and staff-- At Three Rivers School, two new teachers have been hired to fill vacancies created when Stacy Thornburg (sixth grade) and Debra Cruz (fourth grade) accepted positions elsewhere. Both teachers commuted to Three Rivers daily, so it was advantageous for them to find positions down in the Valley.
   Rika Pearson, who relocated to Three Rivers from Houston, Texas, a couple of years ago, was hired as the new fourth-grade teacher. She formerly managed The Cabin, a popular coffee emporium, prior to returning to the classroom.
   Kristine Axtell, who is the wife of Craig Axtell, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, will take over the sixth-grade teaching duties. She brings an outdoors orientation to the classroom and the experience of living and working in gateway communities to national parks similar to Three Rivers.
   James Irwin of Visalia has been hired to take over the maintenance and custodial duties at TRUS. He has local ties to Three Rivers and hopes to one day relocate closer to his new workplace.
   Cafeteria-- The Three Rivers School lunch menu is set for the month of August, but it won’t be distributed to students until the first day of school (Wednesday, Aug. 22). So to help parents and students plan for the first week of meals, the following is the menu:
   Wednesday, Aug. 22— Hot dog, French fries, Teddy Grahams, fruit, and milk.
   Thursday, Aug. 23— Waffles, sausage, hash browns, oranges, milk.
   Friday, Aug. 24— Pepperoni pizza (vegetarian: cheese pizza), carrot sticks with ranch dressing, graham crackers, fruit, and milk.
   Three Rivers School provides free and reduced-price lunches for students who are determined eligible under certain household size and income criteria. In addition, students who receive Food Stamps, CalWORKS, or other specific government assistance are automatically eligible for free lunches.
   Applications will be distributed to all students and are also available at the TRUS office. There is no deadline to submit an application; it may be submitted at any time during the school year.
For more information, call TRUS, 561-4466.
   Sports-- TRUS begins volleyball and flag football competition in a new small school athletics league.
   Pam Kambourian of Three Rivers will return as the varsity volleyball coach and Jesse Wittenstein of Three Rivers will assist with the junior varsity girls program.
   The boys’ flag football program is currently looking for coaches to fill the vacancy created when Jeff Beck of Three Rivers took a football coaching position at Woodlake High School.
   Anyone interested in applying to be a walk-on coach should contact the TRUS office, 561-4466.

Special delivery: 3R organizations

assist Woodlake families
displaced by fire

   On Sunday, Aug. 5, a fire at a trailer park in Woodlake destroyed four homes and damaged two others. A total of 20 people were left homeless, including children ranging in ages from 10 months old to 17.

  Throughout this past week, Three Rivers community members have scrambled to collect clothing and household items to assist the families who lost all their belongings.

  The Community Presbyterian Church was made aware of the tragedy and church members contacted The Thingerie. Instead of selling the necessary items at the thrift store’s normally low prices, The Thingerie, operated by the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, donated everything from toasters to a baby stroller to clothing in specific sizes.

No local issues on November ballot

   Three Rivers voters will not be going to the polls for the Consolidated Districts Election, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007. That’s because no new candidates filed the necessary paperwork to run for the available local government positions.
   Because some incumbents did not file for candidacy by the Friday, Aug. 10, deadline, the deadline was extended to Wednesday, Aug. 15. This is in accordance with the California Elections Code.
   Three Rivers Community Services District— Three seats are up for grabs on the Three Rivers Community Services District so that means four would have had to file to run for the contest to appear on the ballot. Elected officers Tom Sparks, Dennis Mills, and Vincent Andrus’s terms are expiring. Dennis Mills and Vincent Andrus filed as incumbents. Tom Sparks — who is dividing his time these days between the Three Rivers Village Foundation and a TCAG (Tulare County Association of Governments) appointment — did not file for reelection.
   So the board will appoint someone to fill the vacant seat. Most likely that will be David L. Mills, who submitted his declaration of candidacy one day before the August 10 deadline.
   Three Rivers Memorial District— Two board members’ terms are expiring, one veteran and one non-veteran seat. Robert Zapoli (Veteran-Seat #5) filed to run again, so he will retain his position.
Incumbent Shirley Conway (Non-Veteran-Seat #4) did not file within the nomination period, so the seat will remain vacant until a replacement is appointed by the board.
   Sequoia Memorial District— This Lemon Cove entity has three seats available that were previously vacant and for which no one again chose to file.
   Additional upcoming elections— The State of California has completed a comprehensive review of the state’s voting equipment in preparation for the upcoming Presidential Primary Election, which will be held Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, four months earlier than the June primaries of the past.
   The Presidential General Election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.
   For information on how to file to be a candidate for office, call the Tulare County Elections Office at 733-6275 or visit

BOS looking to a
countywide ambulance service

   At the Tuesday, Aug. 28, meeting of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, there is an agenda item that could have tremendous impact on the future of ambulance service in the foothills communities of Three Rivers and Springville. A resolution is expected to be passed directing staff to look at the feasibility of adopting a single ambulance contract extending paramedic service countywide.
   Currently, only the more populated areas of the county are being served by paramedics under the existing county contract. According to local ambulance volunteers, the resolution would be an important first step down a road we must go.

  “I think some people are under the misconception that the Three Rivers Ambulance is staffed 24/7, and that simply is not the case,” said Tom Sparks, who as president of the Three Rivers Village Foundation has been in lengthy discussions with the county to upgrade the local service. “The EMTs [emergency medical technicians] do a great job when they are able to respond but there is no longer enough trained personnel to furnish consistent coverage.”
   The adoption of the countywide service would mean that a paramedic would be on duty full-time in Three Rivers. Currently, the nearest paramedic-staffed ambulance is Exeter and, if that unit has not been dispatched to another call, the extra 20 to 30 minutes in response time can make the critical difference if a patient lives or dies.
   Sandy Owen, president of the Three Rivers Ambulance Association and a 30-year ambulance volunteer and EMT, has been telling the county for several years that the existing service requires an upgrade. She has said publicly that her pleas to county officials have been largely ignored.
   Sparks said that the ambulance service and several other hot topics will be on the agenda at the next Three Rivers Town Hall Meeting. Supervisor Allen Ishida will attend that meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

SNC schedules workshops
for grant applications

   The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is hosting a series of workshops this month and two web conferences in September to familiarize prospective applicants with upcoming grant opportunities. Grants will be available for a variety of projects related to protecting and restoring natural resources; preserving working landscapes such as ranches, farms and forests; reducing fire risk; improving habitat; and promoting sustainable economic activity in the Sierra Nevada.
   Funding for these grants comes from Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coast Protection Bond Act, passed by California voters in November 2006.
   The workshops are not conveniently located for southern Sierra residents; they are being held in Auburn, Bishop, Mariposa, and Susanville. However, the web conferences are being provided for those who cannot attend a workshop.
   The focus will be on the preparation of an application and the elements of a successful project proposal. All parties interested in seeking a state SNC grant for the above-mentioned types of projects are encouraged to attend one of the workshops or web conferences.

  “These workshops allow Sierra residents to have direct interaction with SNC staff so that they are well equipped to submit successful applications,,” said Jim Branham, SNC executive officer. “The SNC has a broad mission aimed at improving environmental and economic wellbeing in the Sierra, and these grants are important in helping us meet our mission.
   The SNC is currently accepting proposals for “Strategic Opportunity Grants” for projects that assist communities and organizations with outreach and education, critical research, planning activities, and internal capacity-building.
   The second phase of grants, which are the subject of the workshops, will address land acquisition (including easements) and on-the-ground site improvements or restoration activities.
   The SNC grants web conference dates and times are: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 1 to 3 p.m.; and Wednesday, Sept. 5, 6 to 8 p.m. Participants must register in advance to reserve a spot.
   For the SNC grants workshops schedule or for more information, visit

Sequoia’s Willow Fire persists

   The Willow Fire, a lightning-caused fire discovered July 21 in the backcountry of Sequoia National Park, is currently at 165 acres. It is located two miles southwest of Big Arroyo in southern Sequoia, burning in a foxtail pine forest above 10,000 feet in elevation.
   Park fire managers report that fire behavior has increased as the fuels continue to dry and the blaze could experience “significant growth” in the upcoming weeks.
   Wildfire prevention— The UC Master Gardeners this week recommended that foothills residents create two zones on their property: home defense (30 feet) and property defense (100 feet).
   The general concept is that trees should be kept furthest from structures, with shrubs closer, and bedding plants and lawns closest to the house.
   In other words, the landscape conditions should not support the spread of fire to other vegetation or to a building or structure.

Learning co-op for preschoolers
organzes for fall session

   It’s back-to-school time for most Three Rivers children, including the Three Rivers Learning Group Co-op for preschool-aged kids. Founded last year, the co-op is currently recruiting for the new session.
   The parents or caretakers run their child’s readiness program in an effort to be a part of their children’s learning process. Not everyone is inclined to take such an active roll, however, the fun, safe, structured environment provided for learning with one’s own parent or other loved one makes for a unique experience that has made so many co-ops thrive.

  “The opportunity is priceless, and the possibilities are endless,” said Bertha Garza Smalley, one of the organizers. “We are truly humbled by the generosity of the Community Presbyterian Church of Three Rivers as they have granted us a place where a preschool once thrived and of which many have fond memories. The location couldn’t be more perfect!”
   Parents and caretakers must stay and be willing to teach, play, clean, prepare food, fundraise, be around young kids, and be friendly and respectful.
   There is no enrollment fee. The only cost is for food and materials used, and if you feel so inclined, a donation may be made to the church for utilities expenses and use of their facility.
   The cost is very minimal, and the children love coming together and anticipate their learning/playing experience.
   Every preschool-aged child in Three Rivers now has the opportunity to prepare for school — emotionally, intellectually, and at almost no cost to the parents, just a commitment of time and energy.
   Our goals of preparing the children for the challenges of beginning elementary school include:

  —Preparing them socially by providing them a consistent interaction with a group of children and teachers in a learning environment.

  —Instilling character traits of attentiveness and respect.

  —Providing an opportunity to do simple group activities (gross and fine motor skills).

  —Instruction in the beginning fundamentals of reading by doing ABC activities through flashcards, writing, singing, and videos.

  —Instruction in the beginning fundamentals of math through 1-2-3 counting and activities.
   Other activities and skills taught will be language focus, science and cultural focus, arts and crafts, introduction to musical instruments, music and dancing, physical movement, beginning sign language and Spanish, food preparation, and horticultural study (gardening).
   The days and times of the upcoming co-op session will be determined based on the parents who are involved.
   For more information or to enroll a child, call 561-3028 or 561-3478.

Around town

   Horse champ-- Kacie Fleeman, 12, of Three Rivers has won Reserve World Champion in Trail (13 and under) on her horse, CR Painted Dream, an eight-year-old registered paint gelding.
   The World Paint Show was held June 24 to 29 in Fort Worth, Texas.
   Kacie also finished sixth in Reining (13 and under) with her horse Color Me Doc Com and ninth in Reining with CR Painted Dream for two top 10 finishes.
   For her efforts, Kacie came home with a silver buckle, show vest, patch, $100 gift check, and lots of ribbons.
   Currently, Kacie is in second place in California for 13-and-under for Best All-Around.

   Back East travels-- Matt Owsley, who graduated Three Rivers School in June, was treated to an educational tour this summer as a reward for his 4.0 grade point average.
   Matt traveled to Boston, Mass.; Virginia; Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pa.; New York City; and Washington, D.C. He visited such historic sites as the Liberty Bell, George Washington’s grave, the World Trade Center site, Empire State Building, U.S. Capitol, White House, and many more.
   Matt is the son of Amy Wheeler. Carl and Kay Wheeler of Three Rivers are his grandparents.

  “He really enjoyed the trip and made many new friends,” said proud grandma Kay.

   The following are California residents killed in Iraq during the past three weeks as announced by the governor’s office:
   U.S. Marine Corporal Matthew R. Zindars, 21, stationed at Camp Pendleton, died Tuesday, July 24, while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Specialist Jaime Rodriguez Jr., 19, of Oxnard, died Thursday, July 26, as a result of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Saqlawiyah, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Corporal Sean A. Stokes, 24, of Auburn, died Monday, July 30, as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Specialist Daniel F. Reyes, 24, of San Diego, died Tuesday, July 31, as a result of wounds suffered from enemy indirect fire in Tunis, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Cristian Vasquez, 20, of Coalinga, died Thursday, Aug. 2, as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Sergeant Jon E. Bonnell Jr., 22, stationed at Camp Pendleton, died Tuesday, Aug. 7, as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Sergeant Michael E. Tayaotao, 27, of Sunnyvale, died Thursday, Aug. 9, as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
    Total U.S. deaths in Iraq—
     3,701 (as of Thursday, Aug. 16)

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