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In the News - Friday, August 19, 2011

 

 

 TRUS faces budget, enrollment challenges

  It was business as usual at Three Rivers School this week as the local kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school prepares to open Thursday, Aug. 25, for its 85th year since the district was unified back in 1927. Teachers and staff converged on the office as some new parents stopped by to register a new student or two.
   The projected enrollment for the current school year is 144; last June that figure was 145.  On opening day next Thursday, 19 kindergartners will experience their first day of school under the tutelage of Katie St. Martin, who returns for her third year as the kindergarten teacher.
   For a school with an uncertain future, that number of new K-kids is an encouraging sign.  According to Sue Sherwood, who serves as the district’s superintendent, principal, and fourth-grade teacher, everyone is focused on making adjustments to the reality of the economy and what’s going on in Sacramento.
   For the 2011-2012 school year there will be the recurring changes for the fall semester. Rob Ojeda, who taught seventh-grade last year, will now have a combined sixth-seventh-grade class with 16 six-graders and seven in the seventh grade.
   Barbara Merline will continue as the technology teacher on a half-time schedule. Athena Saenz will also continue her duties as a half-time music instructor/band director.
   Who said there has to be a separation of church and state in the public school district? Not so in Three Rivers where last year Arlen Talley, the Presbyterian minister, drove the school bus.
   With the departure of Talley, who is returning to his former parish in Minnesota, Alex Garcia, pastor at First Baptist, will assume the job as bus driver. Edmund Pena, maintenance supervisor, will also drive as his schedule permits.
   Some physical site changes are also occurring. The portable class rooms (rooms 4, 5, 6, 7) have all been gutted, thoroughly cleaned, and fitted with new flooring, carpets, cabinets and shelves.
   The remodeling work was necessary when water started to rot the flooring. The stage area of the McDowall Auditorium was also re-roofed.
  “The entire building [McDowall] needs a new roof but for now we only have the funds to do the stage portion and some patching,” Sherwood said. “We can now apply for some modernization funds that should be able to finish the job.”
   On the sports scene, Jeff Beck will assume the duties of flag football coach. Both football and volleyball will field a single team.
   Currently, the volleyball team is in need of a coach. Interested applicants for a coaching position, or any community volunteers who would like to officiate at home games should contact the TRUS office, 561-4466. It was business as usual at Three Rivers School this week as the local kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school prepares to open Thursday, Aug. 25, for its 85th year since the district was unified back in 1927. Teachers and staff converged on the office as some new parents stopped by to register a new student or two.
   The projected enrollment for the current school year is 144; last June that figure was 145. On opening day next Thursday, 19 kindergartners will experience their first day of school under the tutelage of Katie St. Martin, who returns for her third year as the kindergarten teacher.
   For a school with an uncertain future, that number of new K-kids is an encouraging sign. According to Sue Sherwood, who serves as the district’s superintendent, principal, and fourth-grade teacher, everyone is focused on making adjustments to the reality of the economy and what’s going on in Sacramento.
    For the 2011-2012 school year there will be the recurring changes for the fall semester. Rob Ojeda, who taught seventh-grade last year, will now have a combined sixth-seventh-grade class with 16 six-graders and seven in the seventh grade.
   Barbara Merline will continue as the technology teacher on a half-time schedule. Athena Saenz will also continue her duties as a half-time music instructor/band director.
   Who said there has to be a separation of church and state in the public school district? Not so in Three Rivers where last year Arlen Talley, the Presbyterian minister, drove the school bus.
   With the departure of Talley, who is returning to his former parish in Minnesota, Alex Garcia, pastor at First Baptist, will assume the job as bus driver. Edmund Pena, maintenance supervisor, will also drive as his schedule permits.
   Some physical site changes are also occurring. The portable class rooms (rooms 4, 5, 6, 7) have all been gutted, thoroughly cleaned, and fitted with new flooring, carpets, cabinets and shelves.
   The remodeling work was necessary when water started to rot the flooring. The stage area of the McDowall Auditorium was also re-roofed.
  “The entire building [McDowall] needs a new roof but for now we only have the funds to do the stage portion and some patching,” Sherwood said. “We can now apply for some modernization funds that should be able to finish the job.”
   On the sports scene, Jeff Beck will assume the duties of flag football coach. Both football and volleyball will field a single team.
   Currently, the volleyball team is in need of a coach. Interested applicants for a coaching position, or any community volunteers who would like to officiate at home games should contact the TRUS office, 561-4466.

Thieves target local vehicles

Pot busts on public lands

  It’s the visitor season, and this August they are apparently coming in unprecedented numbers. Unfortunately, with the busy summer comes some unwanted visitors, too, and a rash of vehicle break-ins.
   One smash-and-dash occurred while the driver was drumming at the Kaweah River Drum Circle gathering last Sunday (August 14); the late-model sport pickup that was the target was parked out front of the Cort Gallery. After removing the owner’s purse, one of the credit cards logged a purchase at a Visalia gas station.
   A couple of weeks ago, three vehicles were hit in rapid succession from Buckeye Tree Lodge to the cabins near the North Fork Bridge. Nothing much was taken but there was plenty of damage.
   Several weeks ago, a local resident reported that his vehicle had been stolen while he was parked near the Edison swimming hole.

POT SITE ERADICATED
   On Monday, Aug. 14, at 6:30 a.m., a North Fork woman was startled to hear someone banging on her front door. When she opened the door she noticed her house was surrounded by a SWAT team of sheriff’s deputies and Park Service rangers brandishing automatic weapons.
   The woman was told that someone had reported shots fired.
  “The officers asked me if they could have a look around and I said go ahead,” the woman reported.
   After a cursory search of the premises, the officers piled back into their mostly unmarked cars and took off. Sometime prior to the raid, a man in handcuffs was reportedly seen being hauled away in a car on the road nearby the residence.
   That search of the premises was apparently connected to the discovery of a cultivation site on North Fork that had occurred August 8.
   There have been other reports of suspicious activity in past two weeks.
   Recently, park rangers attempted to stop a vehicle near the end of North Fork Drive. While the ranger turned his vehicle around to pursue, five occupants bolted from the vehicle and disappeared into the brush. Inside the vehicle, the ranger found 40 pounds of processed marijuana.
   A short time later, a van was seen being towed down North Fork Drive, followed by a park ranger. South Fork residents have also reported seeing at least one road block that was temporarily set up to monitor vehicles coming and going in that area.
   Kevin Hendricks, chief ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, confirmed that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is investigating several illicit pot-growing operations. On Wednesday, Aug. 17, park rangers raided the North Fork site and eradicated more than 1,000 plants, some 10 feet high; the haul had an estimated street value of $4 million.
   The usual trash, weapons, ammunition, and resource damage were also found at the site. And this raid is only the beginning of the season. Grow sites do much damage to natural resources on public lands annually.
   Harvest time is here for the local pot-growing season. Expect to see numerous law-enforcement officers in the next several weeks and report immediately any suspicious persons or obvious illegal activity.

Woodlake Schools unification on November ballot

  There are two items on the November 8 ballot pertaining to the Woodlake Union School District that could determine the future as to how local schools are operated. Like so many other things in current school budgets, these items are necessary due to shrinking revenues and demographics.
  “We’re looking at every aspect of how we conduct business,” said Tim Hire, superintendent of Woodlake Schools. “With unification, we could gain some $800,000 annually in unrestricted funds.”
   The savings come from the elimination of duplicate services like the preparation of the endless budget reports and how employees interact and cooperate under collective bargaining agreements.
   Hire said the Woodlake Schools are still not experiencing the dramatic cuts of neighboring districts. But he also said the district is bracing for more mid-year cuts in January from Sacramento that could be devastating to all schools and their 2012 budgets.
   Unification makes sense for a number of reasons, Hire said. Three Rivers, though choosing not to unify its elementary district with Woodlake at this time, remains an integral part of the process because its property owners and students are part of the Woodlake High School District.
   Item number one on the fall ballot will ask voters to indicate a yes or no on whether the Woodlake district unify or not. The other part of the first item includes a re-drawing of district boundaries.
   The redistricting of trustee boundaries from the current 10 seats (high school and elementary boards) to seven (a single “unified” board) is the result of a legal challenge arguing that at-large elected trustees do not equitably represent the constituency. If unification is approved, Three Rivers will have territory in two districts currently represented by Three Rivers residents Kent Owen and Edmund Pena. Both incumbents who have re-filed.
   In addition, to the general vote on unification, the election of trustees is also on the ballot. The amount of years that each candidate serves will be determined by their vote totals, however, both Owen and Pena are running unopposed.
   But an example of what could happen if unification is approved has occurred in Area E. In that race, Joe Hallmeyer, a long-time member of the elementary board, is running against Wayne Hardcastle, a long-time member of the high school board. One of these capable gentlemen will be dismissed as a duplication of services.
   If unification does not win approval the current two boards will continue as currently constituted. If approved, the newly elected boards will be seated on July 1, 2012.
   Questions remain as to if and when the Three Rivers Union School District should consider unification. To address the current unification effort and that future scenario, Tim Hire is planning to make the rounds of the Three Rivers forums in the fall.
  “If I had the authority, Sue Sherwood would not lose her job and, no, we would not close Three Rivers School,” Hire said. “We view the Three Rivers kids as our kids and we want them to succeed, too.”

Two more hikers rescued

  It’s becoming a familiar scenario in the current backpacking season as Sequoia-Kings Canyon rangers assisted two more injured hikers in two separate incidents this past week.
   A Mount Whitney incident involved a 53-year-old male hiker who suffered a lower leg injury on Friday, Aug. 12. The injured hiker was airlifted from the 14,500-foot summit of Whitney to South Inyo Medical Center in Lone Pine.
   On Sunday, Aug. 14 a 59-year-old hiker with a dislocated shoulder was rescued by park rangers in the Tableland between Moose Lake and Lonely Lake. The injured man was flown to Ash Mountain where a waiting ambulance transported the patient to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia.

Three Rivers Ladies’ Softball is a hit

  Women’s softball in Three Rivers has mostly struck out in recent years as various organizers have attempted to start a local league.
   But since the 1970s, when women’s softball was really batting a thousand with summer after summer of filled-to-capacity teams, there hasn’t been enough interest to form a league.
   But 2011 will be a summer to remember as about 40 women regularly showed up at Three Rivers School’s upper field of dreams to play.
   Three teams — Blueballers (blue), The Dream Green Team, and Basedolls (white) — were formed with play scheduled for every Monday and Wednesday throughout the summer. The women are so enthusiastic, in fact, that they hope to keep playing as summer turns to fall.
   On alternating evenings, two teams would play while the other held practice. The league was organized by Eme Price and sponsored by the Three Rivers Union School Recreation Committee.
   Umpire was Jim Vines. Scorekeeper was Frank Capalare.

Sequoia to upgrade headquarters building

Wilderness stewardship comment deadline is August 31

  The National Park Service is considering the renovation of the Ash Mountain headquarters building in Sequoia National Park and is requesting the public’s input on this project. The project would include replacing the heating, ventilation, and air-condition system and upgrading windows, doors, and insulation.
   The building, which contains administrative offices and the Foothills Visitor Center, is a “Mission 66” structure that is being considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
   Mission 66 was a 10-year program intended to expand Park Service visitor services by 1966, in time for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Park Service. Established in 1916, the NPS is currently less than five years away from its centennial.
   According to a Sequoia Park press release, “this project would improve park operational efficiency and sustainability by providing improved climate control and reducing excessive fuel consumption.”
   The local park is hoping to reduce electrical usage by 8,800 kilowatt hours annually. In addition, savings on propane could be as much as 6,850 gallons per year.
   More information about this project is online at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki. More than a dozen other park projects may also be viewed on this site, including the Wilderness Stewardship Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, which when finalized will guide existing and future wilderness use and management at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   Public comment on the headquarters renovation project, the wilderness project, or any other pending project is accepted via the previously mentioned website or may be made in writing and delivered in person or by mail to:
   Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Attn: Ash Mountain Administrative Building Project, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271. Faxes are also accepted: 559-565-4202.
   Pay close attention to the deadlines to ensure your comment is included in the planning process. The deadline for comments on the Ash Mountain plan is Thursday, Sept. 1; the Wilderness Stewardship project’s comment period ends Wednesday, Aug. 31.

3R districts won’t appear on ballot

  The Three Rivers Community Services District and the Three Rivers Memorial District won’t appear on the November ballot due to fewer candidates filing than seats that are available.
   The three CSD directors who were up for reelection did not file as incumbents. Vince Andrus, David Mills, and Dennis Mills were all previously appointed to their seats.
Jacki Fletcher of Three Rivers and Robert Groeber of Kaweah filed for candidacy. The CSD board will consider their appointments while taking in consideration any other interested parties.
   The Three Rivers Memorial District also had three seats available, two that were already vacant. Incumbent Margie Ewen of Three Rivers will retain her “Non-Veteran” director seat.
Richard Fletcher of Three Rivers filed to run for the Veteran seat with a four-year term. It was previously vacant.
   Maureen “Mo” Basham of Three Rivers declared her candidacy for the two-year Veteran seat, which also was previously vacant. If the two who filed candidacy papers are appointed to the board, it will be the first time in several terms that there has been a full five-member board.
   The Memorial District board currently consists of Margie Ewen, David Sherwood, and Frank Capalare.

PAPERLESS SAMPLE BALLOTS
   In an effort to go green while saving natural resources and taxpayer dollars, the Tulare County Registrar of Voters will have the sample ballot and voter pamphlets online for the November 8, 2011, Consolidated Districts Election.
   The voter information and other pertinent data regarding anything election-oriented in Tulare County may be accessed at www.tularecoelections.org. In addition, voters may opt out of receiving their voter pamphlets in the mail by filling out the form at the above website.
   There is no cost to make the sample ballot available online. Voters may view, save, or print part or all of the sample ballot. It can also be shared by email.

TCAG launches transportation website

  The Tulare County Association of Governments, through a Caltrans Environmental Justice Program grant, has launched a new countywide “mobility” website at www.GoTulareCounty.com. The up-to-date, easy-to-navigate site contains transit routes and maps for all providers in Tulare County, as well as information on travel by carpool, vanpool, bike, and train.
   The website is a component of the Tulare County Regional Mobility Access Project. As part of the project, a Rider’s Guide brochure has been developed to give new riders tips on how to travel by public transit.
   A multimedia presentation was also created to help social service agencies learn about transit and help their clients become more mobile.
   Additional efforts to improve and streamline public transportation throughout Tulare County have included a comprehensive review of The Green Line regional call center with recommendations for improvements, a critique of marketing materials, and the development and printing of the Fall 2011 Transit Guide, which was released this week.

HEALING WITH THE HANDS

Mindful living: The art of paying attention

By Charlene Vartanian

  Don’t you just love living in Three Rivers? The mountains, the sights and sounds of the river, even the brown flowing hillsides are ever present to catch our attention.
   These beautiful gifts of nature are masters at asking us to stop, be still, and enjoy the moment. Simple moments impart a sense of calm and order to our minds and bodies.
   This has a positive influence on our health and well-being. Paying attention to the beauty that surrounds us can be considered an element of healthy living here in Three Rivers.
   The art of paying attention is also known as the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to being in touch with and aware of the present moment.
   In modern western psychology, the quality of mindfulness involves bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis. Also, paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.
   It includes being aware of our external environment as well as our internal environment — the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise in our body.
   There are mental, physical, emotional, and social benefits to the practice of mindfulness. These include improved concentration, decreased anxiety and depression, increased self- awareness, self-trust, and self-acceptance.
   There is also a decrease in stress-related physical symptoms, including chronic pain, as well as enhanced immune response and lowered blood pressure. These are our health benefits.
   Mindful living is the process of bringing mindfulness into our everyday lives, striving to tend each moment with skillful awareness. The practice of mindfulness can be a precursor to developing openness and curiosity about our lives.
   As we take time for the simple things in life, we create space for the unexpected. Whether it is doing the dishes, digging in the garden, preparing a work project, or just enjoying the mountainside, mindfulness gives back.
   Charlene Vartanian, R.N., has practiced CranioSacral Therapy in Three Rivers for 10 years.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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