In the News - Friday,
September 11, 2009
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
RV crash injures five
In the best of conditions,
the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park is a
challenging drive through a series of twisting, winding
switchbacks demanding the complete concentration of
every driver. Signs are posted that recreational vehicles
larger than 22 feet are not advised as are several
warnings to make the steep descent in low gear to
avoid overheating brakes.
But on Labor Day, a Pomona driver, who
had traveled to the park from Hanford that day in
a 40-foot motor home, was descending the Generals
Highway when the brakes became overheated. The large
RV, with eight passengers aboard, along with another
vehicle with three more of the party following closely
behind, pulled off the roadway at a turnout just above
the 4,000-foot elevation sign.
According to a report that was provided
later to Sequoia rangers, the vehicles remained parked
in a turnout for at least 15 minutes to let the overheated
brakes cool. It was almost immediately after re-entering
the highway that the driver of the RV realized his
worst nightmare as the brake pedal squished to the
floor with no effect.
The brakes were now totally gone and
the oversized RV gained speed rapidly.
“It was really a miracle that the driver
had the presence of mind to look for place to crash,”
said Adrienne Freeman, Sequoia-Kings Canyon public
information officer. “There were granite walls
and steep embankments everywhere, but the RV came
to rest in a huge hill of dirt.”
That stroke of good fortune for the RV
careening out of control was the difference in life
or death for at least some of the passengers. No other
vehicles were involved in the serious accident that
otherwise could have been a disaster with multiple
One female passenger, who was riding
in the back of the RV, was described as being significantly
injured. She was airlifted by helicopter to the trauma
center at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
Four other victims were transported via
ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. One
injury was sustained by a person riding in the vehicle
following the motor home. That injury resulted when
the victim was struck by an exploding tire after rushing
to aid of the crash victims who were still inside
the wrecked RV.
To clear the accident scene, park rangers
closed the Generals Highway in both directions for
two hours approximately one mile above Hospital Rock.
The closure came shortly after the 1
p.m. accident and snarled the Labor Day traffic traveling
up and down the busy Generals Highway.
Several rescue workers at the scene said that this
accident certainly could have been far worse.
“One safety lesson in this incident is
that anyone who comes upon an accident scene should
assess the situation with caution before coming to
the aid of the victims,” said Freeman. “First
and foremost, keep a clear path so rescuers can get
access, keep a safe distance if possible, and be careful
not to become another casualty.”
A great place to horse around
Lake Kaweah approves ‘Horse
by Brian Rothhammer
Mark and Katherine Anselmi are avid equestrians.
Their ranch above Horse Creek affords them easy access
to the broad expanse of green pastures and miles of
open land that beckon when the waters of Lake Kaweah
As a member of the Sequoia Unit of the
Back Country Horsemen of California, Mark wanted to
share this idyllic setting with others who appreciate
quality time in the saddle. For two years now, Mark
has been acting as liaison between the general public
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the common
goal of improving trails and establishing a permanent
horse-camping facility at the lake for public use.
This dream is now becoming a reality.
The USACE has given approval and on National Public
Lands Day (Saturday, Sept. 26), crews from the Corps
of Engineers and the Kaweah River Power Authority
will begin leveling ground and preparing sites for
the corrals and campsites.
“We’ve known of the demand for
horse use,” said Matt Murphy, senior park ranger
at Lake Kaweah. “We’ve had people with
horses before who paid overflow rates for overnight
camping. The horses had to be picketed away from the
A “horse picnic” was hosted
by the BCHC on February 15 just north of the present
Horse Creek campsites. More than 60 people with 40
horses attended the event. At that time a riders’
survey was taken and input gathered from members of
the BCHC, Equestrian Trails Inc., and the American
Competitive Trail Horse Association.
Mark makes it very clear that this has
been a group effort from the start. USACE Park Manager
Phil Deffenbaugh has long held the goal of increased
trail development around the lake. The Army Corps
Mounted Volunteers, formed recently by local horsemen
and women, has been active with area cleanup efforts.
They have been clearing trails and will be on hand
to install the corrals and for future trail maintenance.
Barrett Frobose came to Lake Kaweah when
he transferred from the National Park Service last
October. Having just worked with volunteers on National
Public Lands Day in 2008, Barrett took on the job
of implementing the proposed horse camp facility as
part of his new assignment.
“He’s the ranger in charge of recreation
programs,” said Matt.
Horse Camp will be located at the site
of the February horse picnic and will include a group
campsite and four individual sites.
The group site will be comprised of eight
corrals in a back-to-back layout with a separate group
picnic and parking area. Four individual sites will
be nearby but separate, each with its own parking
and picnic area.
The Horse Camp area will include water,
portable toilets, and a trash bin. Each campsite will
also have a picnic table and a fire ring/barbecue.
A five-day volunteer work party has been
set for the five-day period beginning today (Friday,
Sept. 11) through Tuesday, Sept. 15, to add new trails
and maintain existing ones. The public is invited
to lend a hand.
For more information on Horse Camp and/or
the Army Corps Mounted Volunteers, contact Mark Anselmi,
interest in national parks
Even before filmmaker Ken Burns’s
six-part documentary airs Sunday, Sept. 27, on PBS,
there is a spate of public events being planned across
the country to commemorate the highly anticipated
television series. At Ellis Island, N.Y., visitors
will be able to tour the Statue of Liberty at night
for the first time ever.
On Friday, Sept. 18, in Martinez, where
the John Muir National Historic Site is located, national
parks boosters will attend a free preview of The National
Parks: America’s Best Idea and hear the remarks
of Ross Hanna, John Muir’s grandson.
A little closer to home, Sequoia and
Kings Canyon National Parks, in cooperation with the
Sequoia National History Association and the City
of Visalia, is sponsoring a free screening of The
National Parks: This is America. The local program
is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 18, at the Fox Theatre
in downtown Visalia.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show.
Seats are available first come, first served.
“The 45-minute film is a companion piece
to the Ken Burns series and tells the stories of the
lesser-known people who are also a critical part of
the national parks legacy,” said Adrienne Freeman,
public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Earlier this week, a PBS crew from KVIE
in Sacramento was in Sequoia and Kings Canyon filming
for a companion piece on five California parks that
they are airing in anticipation of the Burns series.
In addition to the Sequoia-Kings Canyon segment, the
Sacramento crew is documenting Lassen Volcanic and
Yosemite national parks, John Muir National Historic
Site, and a special exhibit on the life of John Muir
that is running concurrently.
“These programs are not on the making
of the Burns documentary but feature more of the incredible
story of the creation of our national parks,”
Burns’s six-part series will conclude
on PBS on October 2 but copies of the DVDs, a companion
book, and other merchandise commemorating the landmark
series will be available to benefit PBS.
“There were many times when each of us
working on the film had the experience of being utterly
alone, not necessarily being lonely in the kind of
sentimental, contemporary sense, but experiencing
a profound solitude that wakes us up and made us more
present,” Burns said in a recent interview.
Burns is best known for documenting the
American experience by creating award-winning films
about the Civil War, World War II, jazz, and baseball.
Be sure to watch the 12-hour series,
then go out and experience some of that profound solitude
that belongs to everybody for all time. National Public
Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 26, might be a good day
to personally experience the nearby national parks
because it’s another fee-free day.
WHS book club embarks
a new chapter
Elsewhere, a thoughtful exploration of multiple
responses to death.
The Fountainhead, a struggle of individualism
versus tradition, of pursuing artistic vision in obscurity
versus compromising one’s values to achieve
The Awakening, the shocking
(in 1899) American tale of a woman who rebuffs societal
bonds in order to pursue freedom of expression, self-exploration,
These are just three of the nine books
up for discussion by the Readers Make Leaders Book
Club at Woodlake High School. The club, mentored by
WHS librarian Teresa Mitchell, is open to all high
school students at no fee.
Meeting over lunch on the last Thursday
of each school month, the club members take turns
directing literary discussion and analysis of the
selected work. In May, the club decides on the books
and discussion hosts for the following year.
Now in its third year, the Book Club
takes pride in being able to give its members personal
copies of each book. To achieve this goal, the club
holds fundraisers and solicits donations of either
books or money to buy them. Contact Teresa Mitchell
at 564-3307, extension 126, if this article inspires
The club teaches leadership skills by
having the students prepare for discussions and organize
fundraisers. The members develop important social
skills of gathering multiple opinions and learning
to disagree respectfully. Demonstrating responsibility,
the students earn the privilege of choosing their
own reading list.
WELCOME TO MY FOOD COLUMN
Peach pies and the power of
By Tina St. John
Do you ever think about the power of
food? Have you ever used food to bribe someone?
When my mother used to cook her delicious
dinners every night, I knew she would put extra care
into it because of my father. I could tell.
She would tell me that a way to a man’s heart
is through his stomach. I used to wonder what she
thought about the way to a child’s heart. Was
it through their stomachs, too?
It must have been, because she made wonderful
food that always made us happy. I remember every evening
after she was done cooking she would go upstairs and
change into her dinner wear: a nice dress, a little
lipstick, and her pretty Ferragamo shoes.
She would come downstairs, pour herself
a small glass of wine, and sit at the piano and sing
French songs until my father came home. When he’d
walk through the door she’d get up to greet
him and they would give each other a kiss. It was
like clockwork and something I expected to happen.
My father was a content and very cheerful
man. Of course he was, and rightfully so. He ate like
a king every night. I soon understood what my mother
said to be true. This was her way to my father’s
Once my mother had a crate of beautiful
peaches intended for a pie she was planning on making.
My father taught her how to make pie. Pie is an American
tradition; in Belgium, the closest thing to a pie
is a torte.
She always made two pies because one
just wasn’t enough to feed everyone. So she
made two peach pies and set them aside like she had
always done while making the rest of dinner.
We kids were especially ornery that day.
I can’t recall exactly what mischief we had
gotten into but you can only imagine the disorder
that my mother felt from time to time with nine children
running around. We had an au pair who lived with us,
but even that convenience never seemed to be enough
to tame our ongoing curiosity to experience as much
as we could in a 24-hour day.
As time went on that afternoon, our excitement
began to get out of control. Everything came to a
halt when my mother raised her voice shouting out
We didn’t necessarily know what
she was saying but we knew it wasn’t good. She
was mad, to say the least. She had had enough.
Needless to say, we hadn’t listened to her or
Mary Teresa, our au pair, when asked to settle down.
Well, what happened next was like out of a movie gone
My mother took both pies and tossed them
in the garbage disposal. We all watched in disbelief.
Just then, my father walked in from a
long day’s work. He inquired as to what was
going on. After all he didn’t receive the typical
kids-excited-to-see-Dad greeting. Instead, we were
standing there with our jaws dropped, watching our
mother at the kitchen sink with a wait-till-your-father-gets-home
After hearing what happened he said to
my mother in his quiet voice, “But I wasn’t
In her fury she had forgotten to save
a slice for him. If memory serves me correctly, I’m
pretty sure we never bothered my mother again while
she was cooking.
Case in point, there’s a lot of
power in food. Think about it.
We use food to illustrate our feelings
and intent to another person. We also use food to
make a point.
Food, a basic need, a commodity, and
a force to be used at any given moment to manipulate
in any way we choose.
I’ve implemented food to bribe
or coerce my children in conversation or extra work.
It’s amazing what you can get your kids to do
with food. Extracting information under the spell
of a delicious meal is a mother’s secret (although
perhaps not any more).
The thing I love about food the most,
though, is it’s ability to unite. Whenever there
is food around it draws us in with anticipation of
satisfaction and content. It’s the best tool
I know of to get together with friends and family
Can you picture a planet where we had
a day called “Worldwide Potluck Day”?
All walks of life in countries and nations across
the globe communing for a day of good eats. It’s
pretty hard to be in discord with one another when
getting ready to chow down on scrumptious food….
unless you have nine kids running around causing a
bit of disarray.
THREE RIVERS ART REVIEW
A night on the town
By Eddie McArthur
Last week, there was a great opportunity
to enjoy some of the varied artistic talent of Three
Rivers. So, with a good friend along for the fun,
I set out to see what I could see.
The Art Co-Op, which opened last month
between Sierra Subs and Chump’s Videos, held
its September reception featuring the photography
of Michael Hansen of Porterville. Hansen’s work
reflects the natural world and often spotlights the
beauty of Three Rivers.
Many of us have enjoyed his wonderful
photographs of animals, rivers, lake, and all local
scenery. Lately, it seems, Michael has begun focusing
very intensely upon a single subject, such as a wildflower,
leaving the surrounding vegetation as a soft, unfocused
background. The result is ethereal and lovely.
Hansen’s photographs will be at
the Co-Op the remainder of September. The Art Co-Op
also has seven founding artists whose work is always
on view and available for purchase along with a featured
artist each month. Ranging from jewelry to paintings
to windchimes, with many items quite reasonably priced,
local residents and tourists alike can purchase or
simply enjoy quality local art.
After a bite to eat at the Co-Op, we
made the drive to Visalia to check out the opening
reception at Arts Visalia. That Extra Dimension 2009
is an invitational, month-long sculpture exhibit,
and several Three Rivers artists were among those
invited to exhibit.
Carole Clum elected to show three pieces
from her endangered species series. She manages to
capture the essence of each animal in bas-relief.
It is easy to feel her love of nature as well as appreciate
her talent in each piece.
In a totally different vein (and carried
in the gift shop at Arts Visalia) are Carole’s
metal creations. These may be ladies fashioned from
highly polished metal and destined to guard over a
kitchen or oddly endearing animals. Carole has her
studio and kiln at her home on South Fork Drive.
Husband-and-wife team Jerry and Nancy
Jonnum were also represented at That Extra Dimension.
Jerry presents a fabulously inventive table covered
entirely in pieces of artistic ceramic from fish to
snakes to who-knows-what.
Jerry made each tile; each and every
piece of the table, in fact. It is whimsical, colorful,
and changeable depending on the viewpoint.
Nancy’s contribution to this show
is one of her clay sculptures featuring children.
Called “Lastima,” or Pity, this little
child calls out for a hug. From her slightly messy
pigtails to her dirty toenails, she captures your
heart. The Jonnums are located at their home and studio
on Cherokee Oaks Drive.
Armin Pfadish brought two of his turned
wood bowls to this show. No one, truly no one, does
wood turning like Armin.
The larger of the two bowls is lemon
wood with edges of natural bark. The smaller bowl
is deep, rich black walnut. Both display the smooth,
elegant finishing that characterizes Armin’s
work and causes him to spend weeks on a single piece.
Armin has a large shop and lathe at his home on South
I was wearing out, but we moved on to
our final stop of the evening, Arenas Gallery on Main
Street where a reception was being held as part of
Visalia’s “First Friday” event.
Nancy Jonnum is showing another of the tender and
touching children for which she is known.
This little boy is called “Dancing
Over Crystal” and stands perched on a large
pot. Nancy has captured the stance of a child balancing
on something round and unstable, and I was tempted
to reach out to steady the little guy lest he fall.
Finally, it was time to make the drive
back up the hill and around Lake Kaweah to Three Rivers.
We had laughed and talked and eaten a bit, and mostly
we had enjoyed the wonderful Three Rivers art at each
of these venues.
Eddie McArthur is
a Three Rivers artist.
Smile Train on track for Saturday
By Kevin Foster
When I turned 20, someone said, "Time
will now go by twice as fast for you."
When I turned 40, someone else said,
"Now time is really going to fly by for you."
I know in my mind a year has gone by
since the last Smile Train bike ride, but in all honesty
it was just yesterday, or to stretch it a bit, at
least a month ago, and now here we are ready to usher
in the fourth annual ride and silent auction that
helps pay for the operations of children born with
cleft lips and palates.
To bring many of you up to date, what
began as a small event is quickly gaining in popularity
as an intimate, fun ride to participate in after the
summer season has ended. In the last three years of
the ride, we’ve been able to raise enough funds
to help 74 children receive permanent smiles and a
new chance at life (it’s not just smiling, but
eating, drinking and talking are difficult; some things
many of us may take for granted).
This year, our aim is to go over the
100 mark, and we can do it, because I know we have
a lot of people in town who love to ride their road
or mountain bikes, so now’s the chance to help
us reach that triple-digit goal if you haven’t
been on one of these rides yet.
We’ve also added some new sponsors
to the lineup with Slime tire sealant and a couple
of local businesses, Costco and Odwalla, that will
make the rest stops more interesting.
For a current roll of the numbers, Smile
Train is a 10-year-old organization that has helped
train over 25,000 doctors that have performed over
500,000 surgeries to correct cleft lips and palates
in over 75 countries (including the U.S.). The average
cost of a child’s operation is $250 with the
average time being 45 minutes. The average waiting
time to perform this simple operation is six years,
and that’s something we all need to work on
The ride will be held tomorrow (Saturday,
Sept. 12), beginning at the Lions Arena. Registration
will begin at 7:30 a.m., and all rides will leave
the arena by 8:30 a.m. The Roadies will head south
toward Lake Kaweah and surrounding towns while the
Mountain Bikers will head north for Sequoia National
Park. The rides will end around noon at the Lions
Arena with a well-deserved lunch provided for all
There are three rides from which to choose:
A 25-mile or 50-mile road ride or a 25-mile mountain
bike ride. There will be SAG (support and gear) support
for the Roadies and support for those who decide to
head to the mountains.
Again this year, we’ll have a silent
auction with some great bike-related stuff, including
seats and tires from Highway 2, sealant products from
Slime, brakes and rims from Hayes and Sun Rims, and,
probably, the most popular returning auction item
from last year, a caseload of brand new 2008 and 2009
Camelbak hydration packs.
Also, as we did last year, the town is
invited to come on out to the Lions Arena between
the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. to view the silent auction
items and make their bids (even if you can’t
make the ride). At half off the retail prices, these
are bargains. Winners not present will be notified
For additional information and to sign
up for the ride, visit www.kfcc.org.
Kevin Foster is the
organizer of the Smile Train Charity Bike Ride and
lives in Kaweah.
Concert on the Grass:
One of the longest running traditions
in Three Rivers returns later this month when the
first notes of David Reid’s bagpipes open the
Concert on the Grass and fill the air with music for
the 29th consecutive year.
Although the event has become an autumn
tradition, Dr. Harry Ison began the concert series
almost as an afterthought. Dr. Ison grew up in the
Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky where he studied
piano from age five through high school. He received
his M.D. degree from the University of Louisville
and practiced medicine in Long Beach before opening
a family practice in Three Rivers in the 1970s.
In the summer of 1982 Harry moved his
piano out onto the lawn and invited some friends over
for a musical picnic — a bit of Beethoven, Brahms,
Chopin, and one of Harry’s original compositions.
Next year, his friends implored him to do it again.
Same the following year, by which time those friends
brought other friends and the audience had grown to
over 100 people.
Then, as now, the Concert is an open-house
gathering for anyone who wants to come, no invitation
necessary. And come they did — from Visalia,
Fresno, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and from places
between and farther — to hear Harry and his
exceptional protegés perform piano in the settling
dusk of a late autumn afternoon. The tradition continued
for 20 years.
Then at the 2002 Concert, Dr. Ison surprised
(some would say shocked) the 250 people in the audience
when he announced that this would be the last event
he would host. Not long after, he moved to Bellingham,
Wash., where he lives today.
The following spring, two Three Rivers
couples met for dinner, Ken Elias and Sarah Shena
and Anne and Bill Haxton. Ken had performed at several
of Harry’s concerts, and the conversation naturally
migrated to what a good experience the Concert had
been and how much it would be missed.
None of the four remember who said it,
but one of them asked, “Why don’t we give
it try? Just one year to see how it goes.”
In 2003, the Concert moved from South
Fork to Shepherd Cove on Dinely Drive. Since then,
the program has continued to expand and now includes
dance, chorale, guitar, chamber music, voice, poetry,
and short drama.
Some notable talent has taken the stage
under the blue oaks. Tracy Harris is one of world’s
finest flutists, actor Ronnie Cox (Beverly Hills Cop,
Deliverance, Robocop), concert pianist Eric Brelsford,
actress Laurie Walters (Joannie in Eight is Enough),
and her director husband John Slade.
Now it’s a pretty big deal with
parking shuttles, a permanent stage, a professional
sound system, a pre-concert art show, and dozens of
volunteers. It’s a free event, but anyone can
contribute a little to help defray the costs.
This year’s Concert will be held
on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 44879 Dinely Drive. The
open-air art show with live jazz begins at 1:30 p.m.
The Concert begins at 2:30 p.m. Bring blankets or
lawn chairs and a picnic; there’s plenty of
shade on the lawn. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes
early for parking.
For more information and a complete program,
Bees will be a main
at October event
By Mona Fox Selph
At the London Zoo, a festival to show
how insects are connected to the very survival of
humans and especially to raise awareness of the plight
of bees has transformed the Queen Elizabeth Hall into
Queen Bee Hall. Science exhibits, discussions, and
bee-related art and music are all being presented.
In recent months, articles have appeared
about Bees Without Borders, an organization dedicated
to beekeeping on city rooftops and other nontraditional
Where are the bees? Colony Collapse Disorder
is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a colony
suddenly disappear. The term was first used to denote
a drastic rise in the number of disappearing honeybee
colonies in North America in late 2006. It has also
been happening on a worldwide scale.
The phenomenon is significant since many
agricultural crops the world over depend on pollination
Scientists worldwide are trying to understand
the cause or causes of colony collapse. Some of the
research areas include mites, viruses, and insect
diseases, environmental change stresses, pesticides,
malnutrition, and other causes. The cause may turn
out to be a combination of factors.
Some bee history: Bees are 10 to 20 million
years old. Bees are portrayed in ancient Egyptian
art, and the ancient Greeks also kept bees in hives.
Honey mead was the first alcoholic beverage. The ancient
Maya of Mexico and Guatemala domesticated stingless
bees as a source of honey, and the keeping of honey
bees in Europe goes back thousands of years as well.
European honeybees were brought to America in 1638
by colonists. Native American bumblebees are larger
than honey bees, live underground, and produce only
enough honey for their own colonies, but are valuable
pollinators. It is estimated that bumblebees pollinate
42 percent of families of flowering plants in California.
Some 45 species of bumblebees are native to North
America, with 27 species in California, although several
of these appear to have become extinct in the past
All bees perform a far more important
role than satisfying our sweet tooth, however. Bumblebees,
for instance, are especially good pollinators of tomatoes
because of their excessive buzzing vibrations while
feeding. Between January and mid-March, when almonds
and other tree crops need pollination, about half
of the commercial bees in the United States are moved
to California for the duration. That gives one a hint
of the magnitude of the importance of the lowly but
magnificent bee in the production of global food crops.
The California Native Plant Society and
the TREW Crew (the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend
crew) will join forces Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Three
Rivers Arts Center, beginning at 9 a.m. The annual
Native Plant Sale is held during the morning and there
will be a presentation by beekeeper Max Eggman. Egg-man
Family Honey produces the only comb honey in the area,
and Max will bring samples and honey to sell, but
no live bees.
Mona Fox Selph of
Three Rivers is an organizer of TREW.