Kaweah Commonwealth - Three Rivers

News and Information of KAWEAH COUNTRY - Three Rivers,

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Lemon Cove and Woodlake

Visitor Information:
Three Rivers
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Real Estate
Property Rentals - NEW!
Local History
Travel Information
Weekly News and Features
Weekly Weather
Calendar of Events
Columns/ Opinions
Readers Poll
Newspaper Archives

Live Web Cam of
Sequoia National Park,
the High Sierra,
and Three Rivers, California
Kaweah Kam

AddThis Feed Button

In the News - Friday, September 18, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Fires in Sequoia smoldering

   The Horse Fire, located in the Horse Creek drainage above Hockett Meadow, continues its slow burn through steep terrain with scattered trees at 9,100 feet near the southern boundary of Sequoia National Park. The fire was discovered July 19 just below Ansel Lake and has now charred 330 acres.
   Monitors describe the fire’s behavior as a smoldering, creeping ground fire with some isolated torching. The two personnel assigned to the Horse Fire have hiked in for multi-day duty and have been resupplied by pack stock as stipulated by the provisions of the Wilderness Act.
   Another smaller blaze, dubbed the Mehrten Fire, was discovered August 21 and is reported to be only a couple of acres in size. It was started by a lightning strike and is located in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River south of Alta Peak.
   Fires in the Middle Fork have caused severe smoke impacts in the past so this blaze, burning in mixed conifers at 7,800 feet, was contained. It will be continuously monitored in case of any flare-ups.
   There are no trail closures in effect due to either of these fires though hikers may notice smoke if on the High Sierra Trail or in the Hockett Meadow vicinity. Motorists on the Mineral King Road have reported that smoke from the Horse Fire is also visible from viewpoints along the road below Silver City.
   Earlier this week, all trails in the vicinity of the 52-acre Crescent Meadow Prescribed Fire were reopened. Ignitions were completed August 4 and since that time, fire activity has diminished significantly, the Park Service reports.
   Hikers in the area of Crescent and Log meadows are asked to remain on the established trails and not to enter burned areas for their own safety. Some hot spots still exist and are visible from these trails.

Marijuana measure seeks support

   Coming to malls and public gathering places all across California will be a small army of petitioners who just might be asking for your signature on a petition to legalize marijuana. Last week, Secretary of State Debra Bowen made the announcement that proponents — attorneys Joe Rogoway, Omar Figueroa and James J. Clark — may begin officially collecting petitions for the measure.
   Here’s how the initiative process works. The Attorney General prepares the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions. When the official language is complete, the petition is forwarded to the proponents and Secretary Bowen.
   The Secretary of State then provides a calendar deadline to county elections officials and the initiative may be circulated for signatures. In this case, the proponents are already predicting their efforts will be completed easily ahead of schedule and allow the initiative to appear on a 2010 ballot.
   The proponents for this measure must collect signatures of 433,971 registered voters — the number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election — in order to qualify for the ballot. The proponents have 150 days to circulate petitions for this measure, meaning the signatures must be collected by February 5, 2010.
   The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is written as follows:
   Changes California Law to Legalize, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana. Initiative Statute. Repeals state laws that make it a crime for people 21 years or older to use, possess, sell, cultivate, or transport marijuana or industrial hemp, except laws that make it a crime to drive while impaired or to contribute to the delinquency of a minor. Expunges state convictions based on the repealed marijuana-related laws. Requires state and local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana. Requires taxes to be spent on education, healthcare, environmental programs, public works and state parks. Summary of fiscal impact: savings in the tens of millions of dollars annually in the incarcerating and supervising of marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major new excise, income, and sales tax revenues related to the production and sale of marijuana products.
   Some analysts are predicting that legalization could generate more than a $1 billion annually for the revenue-starved coffers of the state treasury. But if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. In other words, like any controversial initiative, there is bound to be a fight.
   Proponents say that marijuana’s social use is not unlike alcohol but is safer to use and has proven health and medical uses. Opponents claim it is just another drug and legalization will lead to more drug use by a population that already uses too many drugs.
   In Tulare County, legalization could eventually mean that powerful drug cartels that cultivate marijuana and wantonly desecrate public lands — including Sequoia National Park — might be forced out of the illegal business. This season, at least one major wildland fire near Santa Maria was started by illegal growers on public lands and the cost of fighting that blaze cost taxpayers several million more dollars.
   In the throes of an unprecedented budget crisis, California might not be able to afford to just say no. As California goes, where more than 10 percent of the nation’s population lives and nearly 50 percent of its capital is still being ventured, so goes the rest of the country.
   Not to be overlooked are new enforcement problems if the statute becomes law. Currently, one of the largest groups of users is under the age of 21 and their use would still be against the law.
   A prominent Tulare County marijuana attorney claims to have had all his marijuana cases dismissed where a DUI is involved because law enforcement has no effective method to prove that an impaired driver was stoned on pot.
   Like all initiatives, this one will be subject to court challenges. But who can dispute the intriguing business potential and job creation that one day might be the outcome of such a measure?

DNC honored for environmental standards

   The National Park Service recently presented its 2009 Environmental Achievement Awards to three parks and three concessioners, including Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts (DNC), that incorporate environmentally friendly practices into their operations. Acting director of the National Park Service Daniel Wenk praised this year’s winners for “setting an example by protecting not only NPS sites but also the land and environment beyond their borders.”
   In 2008, DNC trademarked its GreenPath Environmental Management System that is in place at Sequoia, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon national parks. GreenPath includes the development and implementation of comprehensive recycling programs at each park, ultimately diverting thousands of tons from the solid waste stream, reducing energy consumption, and devising new and more efficient ways of operating.
   DNC is committed to preventing pollution in the areas where they do business and to continually improving the company’s environmental performance. DNC strives to incorporate environmental considerations into business decisions, including planning and design; review activities, products, and services to limit environmental impact; set targets to improve environmental performance; reduce the generation and disposal of waste; and more.
   Other 2009 winners are: Denali National Park and Preserve, Mojave National Preserve, Zion National Park, Xanterra Parks & Resorts (Yellowstone), and Xanterra South Rim (Grand Canyon).

Linda Warner receives Educator of the Year honors

   Linda Warner would be just as content to continue doing what she loves most — working with children — quietly and behind the scenes.    During her adult life, Linda has touched thousands of children’s lives, as a YMCA director, swim instructor, recreation director, school bus driver, teacher’s aide, preschool teacher, ambulance volunteer and, ultimately, teacher.
   Well, the word has leaked out about Linda’s dedication to the children of Three Rivers. And she will be receiving her just reward.
   She currently is the third/fourth-grade teacher at Three Rivers School and has been a fixture on the campus in one capacity or another on and off since 1976. She is most definitely deserving of the honor that will be bestowed upon her next week.
   On Thursday, Sept. 24, at the 16th annual Confucius’ Birthday/Educators of the Year Celebration, Linda will be one of three teachers honored with this prestigious award.
   The ceremony — sponsored by the Central California Chinese Cultural Center in Visalia and the Tulare County Office of Education — continues the long tradition of celebrating the careers of educators on the birthday of China’s great philosopher and advocate for universal education, Confucius.
   Linda is this year’s elementary school Teacher of the Year. Middle school Teacher of the Year is Dean Miller, a science teacher at Palo Verde Union School in Tulare; Nancy Wills, a music teacher at Lindsay High, is the high school Teacher of the Year.
   Linda and her husband Tom moved to Three Rivers in 1976, which is when she first started working for the school district as a substitute teacher. This soon transitioned into positions as a bus driver and teacher’s aide.
   After a three year hiatus to give birth to her two sons — Jed and Isaac — she went back to work as a preschool teacher in Three Rivers. She also worked in the summer months giving swimming lessons to local children.
   In 1985, Linda was back at Three Rivers School as a teacher’s aide.
“She also was a bus driver, did yard duty, handled the Movement Education classes for grades one through three, worked as grounds and maintenance, and volunteered as an EMT with the Three Rivers Ambulance,” said Sue Sherwood, superintendent of Three Rivers School and a longtime friend of Linda’s.
   In 1995, Linda returned to school to get her teaching credential. By 1999, she filled the gap when a TRUS teacher left unexpectedly midyear and was hired as the third-grade teacher the next school year.
   Now entering her second decade as a TRUS teacher and with the recent retirements of some longtime teachers — Melinda Simonian, Suzanne Rich, Gail Matuskey — Linda has been teaching at TRUS the longest of all the permanent teaching staff. With her calm demeanor and kind disposition, she sets a perfect example for her students and, with her seniority, proves a prime mentor for future Educators of the Year.

  “She is a champion for children in every sense of the word,” said Sue. “She is one of those people who was destined to be a teacher. She is very deserving of this honor, and I am proud to be able to share this moment with her.”
   Event information: 733-6302

Annual dinner supports Three Rivers School

By Susan Sherwood

   The annual Three Rivers Union School Foundation dinner is right around the corner. We hope to see you there!
   On Sunday, Oct. 4, you will have the opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones. The evening includes a delicious dinner prepared by Felix Gonzalez, flamenco-style music provided by our local Faena Brava, plus the opportunity to win prizes, bid in the silent auction, and more.
   But hurry! It’s coming up fast, and we must know you are coming so we can prepare.
   Over the past year, the TRUS Foundation has dedicated its funds to the refurbishing of the school’s upper field:

  —Two new sets of bleachers were purchased.

  —The basketball and tennis courts were resurfaced.

  —Dirt was brought in to augment the baseball field and fill the gopher holes in the outfield (of course, taking care of the gopher holes is a never-ending battle).

  —The field was dedicated in May to Maile J. Peck, who was a beloved member of the Three Rivers School community for many years. She attended nearly every game at the school and especially loved men’s softball.
   We still have some work to do on the dugouts and will continue to work on keeping the field as green and groomed as we can. Water is always an issue, even with the additional tank that has been installed.
   Both the community and the school use this field practically every day, 365 days a year. Students use it for everything from recess to soccer, football, track and baseball.
   When school is not in session the upper field really gets a workout. It is the only grassy space in Three Rivers for events such as dog training, Frisbee, the annual Fall Carnival, and recreational sports for all ages.
   The TRUS Foundation Board works hard to organize this annual fundraiser. Tickets are $50 for a single plate; $75 for a double.
   Complimentary wine and beer will be served and it is a great way to spend a beautiful fall evening.
   All donations benefit the students, programs, and facilities at Three Rivers School.
   We are currently looking for donations for our silent and live auctions as well as door prizes. If you would like to donate, please contact Lee Crouch at 561-3363, Sue Sherwood at Three Rivers School, or any Foundation member. Tickets to the event are on sale in the school office or from Foundation members. Please support your local school and community.
   Sue Sherwood is the superintendent of Three Rivers School.

Abe Burdick: A man who beat the odds

By Sophie Britten

   Abraham (“Abe”) Burdick, an early Three Rivers settler, has gone down in local history as a legendary figure. A goldsmith by trade in New York City, he was born August 31, 1838, in New Jersey.
Legend has it that when his health began to fail, he moved to San Francisco, leaving his wife and daughter, who chose to stay behind in New York City.
   Arriving in San Francisco, he opened a jewelry store but bad luck was on his trail; that very same night the store burned to the ground! As he was standing in the street despondently contemplating the ruin of his hopes and business, a man approached him asking if he needed employment. When he indicated that this was so, he was hired on the spot to cook for a crew that was to build what the Kaweah Colonists called the Giant Forest Railroad, a project that was doomed to failure since the Colonists opted instead for a wagon road to access the giant sequoias.
   Again out of work, Burdick was finally diagnosed with what was then called consumption — or tuberculosis as we now know it. His doctor told him that he had just a few weeks to live.
   By then, his wealth purportedly consisted of $1.75 and with this he bought a sack of beans and a slab of sowbelly (bacon). He journeyed up to Yucca Creek on the North Fork (called East Branch by the Colonists) and camped under a sloping rock, ostensibly to await his fate.
   However, he did not succumb to his fatal illness; in fact, he lived under the rock for two years at which point he moved farther up the creek and built himself a cabin of hand-hewn alders he had carried up from the creek. Eventually, he developed a small ranch with an apple orchard and some livestock.
   Vowing that sleeping outdoors had saved his life, Burdick continued his habit of sleeping outside in a lean-to shelter for many years. During his lifetime, the Park Service tried many times to obtain his property but according to Colonel John White, then superintendent of Sequoia National Park, he refused to sell.
   Abe had a most famous (or infamous) cat that he named “Jesus.” Harry Britten, who was a park ranger at the time, told the story of the day that he had ridden his horse down the Colony Mill Road on his patrol and as was his custom, stopped at Burdick’s ranch to have breakfast.
   As he was riding through the apple orchard, he spotted what he called a “lynx cat” or wildcat. He pulled out his service revolver and shot the cat, thinking to protect Mr. Burdick’s chickens.
   He carried the cat by its bob-tail up to the door and when it was opened, Britten showed his trophy to Mr. Burdick who beheld the sight. Burdick promptly became infuriated and shouted that Britten had shot his cat, whereby slamming the door, and not speaking to Harry Britten for many years.
   In later years, the families of Ernest Britten and Ora Welch held a birthday party for the then aged Burdick. Harry was invited to attend, and he presented the tanned hide of the bobcat to Burdick.
   Burdick graciously accepted the peace offering and told Britten that he would send it to his daughter who still lived in New York and had recently contacted him.
   In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established on Yucca Creek, and Burdick became acquainted with the camp supervisor John Grunigen and his wife. She took food to Abe, who was then over 90 years old, and the CCCs helped him with the maintenance of his ranch.
   Abe Burdick lived in good health and contentment until his death in June 1935, and the CCC crew buried him on a knoll above his house in the shade of a large oak.
   Obviously, the salubrious air and climate of the Three Rivers environs had allowed him to outlive his sack of beans and slab of sowbelly to reach the age of 96. One man who truly beat the odds!
   Sophie Britten is a resident of Three Rivers who is in the process of researching and writing a book on local history.

Concert on the Grass announces lineup

   This year’s Concert on the Grass is shaping up to be one of the most interesting yet in the long history of the traditional Three Rivers autumn event. It will be by far the most international program, with bagpipes and Mexican folkloric dance, and will span a wider range of musical and spoken art.
   The program opens with David Reid’s rousing Scottish ballad “Scotland the Brave” authentically performed on bagpipes. David has been devoted to bagpipes for decades and performed with the Tulare County Symphony and numerous other premier ensembles.
   Next, regular Concert attendees will recognize 13-year-old Lauren Adaska from previous years. It’s been amazing to follow the development of this willowy soprano who brings perfect pitch and evocative phrasing to some of the most beautiful songs ever written. This year she will perform Giovanni Paisello’s “Nel cor piu mi sento” and Pergolisi’s “Se tu m’ami.”
   The Belman family (Jesse, Fabi and Marilou) is well known in Three Rivers as Faena Brava. Their fusion of classical, flamenco, and contemporary music will be highlighted by Jovita Metts, a professional folklorico dancer from Fresno, and Three Rivers cellist Pat Valentine. Pat has been a member of the Tulare County Symphony for over 30 years.
   Mankin Creek is one of Tulare County’s premier acoustical ensembles. With stunning vocals and terrific musicianship Esther Zurcher and Keith Hamm weave real magic in their blending of bluegrass, jazz, folk, and country.
   Returning from last year, vocalist Leah Spencer will sing a musical version of a selection from Shakespeare, and poets Melissa Black and Bill Haxton will present original poems. Melissa has performed at public events in San Francisco and now teaches at Porterville College. Bill is a co-host of the Concert.
   The venerable Ken Elias will close this year’s show with one of Beethoven’s best known compositions, the deeply moving “Sonata Pathetique,” and with Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”
   An open-air art show will kick off the event at 1:30 p.m. with live jazz clarinetist Raymond Pitts performing. The concert will begin at 2:30. The parking shuttles run until 2:25 p.m.
   Take Sierra Drive to Dinely and follow the “Concert” signs to the end of the road.

Yokohl: Past settlement, proposed future

Yokohl: A History of Its People and Their Culture
By Scott Barker
Print Projects, 2009
266 pages, paper, $24.95

   Venture through Yokohl Valley these days and discover quiet roads and rolling hills graced with grasses, granite, and oaks, a place where cows outnumber humans. It is hard to imagine this peaceful valley was once teeming with the native Yokodo people and, later, pioneer settlers (ca. 1860) and their families, cattle ranchers, outlaws, immigrants, and many quirky characters.
   A recently published book, Yokohl: A History of Its People and Their Culture, by Scott Barker provides a timely account of the history of Yokohl Valley — located south of Lake Kaweah, north of Lake Success, and east of Exeter — as the area is being considered for settlement once again. This time as a 36,000-acre planned community as proposed by the EastLake Company, a subsidiary of the J.G. Boswell Company.
   Opponents have come to the fore with the mission of protecting this pastoral valley that is today used solely for agricultural purposes, primarily cattle grazing. That’s where a history book such as Yokohl proves invaluable; if the land is someday dotted with homes and highways, then the past has been better documented, but more importantly, if the history of a place is accessible to the general public, then it may provide a rationale for its preservation.
   The first impressions of one early settler, Wilhelm Mehrten, are revealed in Barker’s book:

  “The small valley was beautiful. It was perfect for raising cattle, hogs and the children he hoped to have one day. The property was away from the lowlands of the San Joaquin Valley… As he rode his horse slowly through this foothill savanna, he touched tops of grass that were as high as his horse’s neck. He seemed to glide through a sea of grass. Oaks grew broadly apart, their crowns giving the valley an appearance of Eden. The landscape was gently rolling all the way to the valley’s crest. Most importantly there were three good springs near the head of the valley with dense patches of willow, oak, cottonwood and sycamore. He was satisfied that he and his brothers would settle here in Dry Creek, in time named for the family: Mehrten Creek.”
   Yokohl begins appropriately with the native people who first inhabited the area — the Yokodo tribe of the Yokuts — and who are the valley’s namesake. It merges into a history of the settlement of the west, which provides context for the settlement of Tulare County. Yokohl’s geology is also explored — which leads the reader into the prospecting and mining era — and the native flora and fauna are described.
   But it’s the stories of the settlers that are most intriguing. Many names mentioned are still familiar today, whether through their descendants or place names on local landmarks — Dungan, Hector, Jordan, Dennison, Mehrten, Houk, Gill, Blair, Moffett, Pogue. Several family histories are revealed, love stories disclosed, and anecdotes told, including several involving Benjamin Franklin Harris, “the biggest [and most famous] liar in Tulare County.”
   By the end of the 1860s and for a couple decades after that, there were five schools in Yokohl Valley, which was a testament to the growing population. Telephone service arrived in 1910.
   But the development of Yokohl in the 20th century was not to be. The author explains that it was the Industrial Revolution, among other timely factors, that lured ranchers out of the valley and to employment in the metropolitan areas of the state.

  “By 1914, only twelve registered voters remained in the valley, the lowest total of any precinct in Tulare County,” the last chapter states.
“By 1930 most of Yokohl Valley was an empty shell compared to the bustle of just thirty years prior. It was restored, however, to its pastoral beauty,” the author continues.
   From here, the book ends with a more contemporary history, concluding with a description of the late J.G. Boswell and his company’s business ventures. This includes a proposal for a new full-service city to be built where settlers a century ago were attempting to eke out a living.
   So will the settlers and their families return to Yokohl Valley? That is a chapter that is waiting to be written as a master-planned community proposal — which has been approved by the county Board of Supervisors — simmers on low during these rocky economic times.
   The author Scott Barker lives, appropriately, on Yokohl Valley Drive in the Springville area.

Awards bestowed upon River View

   Early in July, a very busy business owner in Three Rivers received a phone call.
   When the voice at the other end said, “You have been selected to receive…,” Dorletta Hildebrand replied, “What kind of gimmick is this?”
   Rex and Dorletta Hildebrand have owned and operated the River View Restaurant and Lounge for almost 13 years. Well known by locals and visitors alike, the River View also consistently appears on the list of winners in THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH’s Best of Kaweah Country readers’ poll.
   As it turned out, this phone call was from the Central Valley Chapter of the California Restaurant Association and was to advise Dorletta that the River View was to be recognized at an awards banquet on July 19 at the Visalia Holiday Inn.
   Accepting the invite, Dorletta would soon find herself in receipt of not one but four awards on behalf of the River View. The awards are: Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition (for outstanding and valuable service to the community), California Legislature Assembly Certificate of Recognition (reflective of commitment to quality, customer service, and the community), California Restaurant Association Certificate of Achievement (for outstanding contributions to the restaurant industry and charitable involvement in the community), and a CRA Food Fight for Hunger plaque from FoodLink for Tulare County.
   Just what does all this mean? As Dorletta would have it, she, Rex, and the staff of the River View over the years have just been good neighbors.
   Although she does allow that the Riverview has hosted numerous benefits (at least a dozen) over the years for those in serious need, Dorletta is modest regarding her own involvement.

  “The whole community gets together for these benefits,” she said. “It’s just amazing how many people get involved.”

  “Other businesses donate prizes, it’s not just me… I provide the building and the food. It’s the whole community coming together to help a neighbor,” she continued.
   She regards the awards as belonging to the community, and as such they are displayed prominently at the popular dining and drinking establishment.
   Even the distinctive sign at the entrance to the River View is a community effort. She explained that Mike Watkins provided the wood, Phil Gomes did the routing, Wendy McKellar painted it, Rick Gregory recently sealed and clear-coated it, and Frank Campbell built the new backdrop and mounted it.

  “Community service is the key to longevity in business,” said Dorletta.
   Surely, it also helps that the River View serves great food and cold drinks and provides live entertainment to a local populace that still understands the meaning of the word “neighbor.” Of course, visitors are welcome, too.
   So the next time you’re enjoying an award-winning burger or a heavenly deep-dish pizza and a cold one at the Riverview, don’t hesitate to be proud of the community in which we live. And say “hello” to your neighbor.

Woodlake Tigers come up short

in Valencia Trophy rivalry

   The game was never much of a contest after Austin Albison, the Monarchs quarterback scampered 12 yards for a score with about four minutes left in the first quarter. Exeter (1-0), who has now kept the coveted Valencia Trophy for the past seven years, has an overall record of 46-32-4 in this neighborly rivalry that dates all the way back to the 1920s.
   In those early games Woodlake’s teams were known as the “Fighting Bantams.” They didn’t become the Tigers until a decade or so later. What the team lacked in numbers they made up for in heart and tenacity.
Not much except the name ever changed, but lately Woodlake’s Tigers (1-1) have been on the short end of the score with their Exeter rivals. As a near-capacity crowd looked on at Woodlake last Friday, the 2009 game merely continued that Valencia trophy series losing streak.

  “They were just bigger and better than us but to tell you the truth we [the coaches] thought our guys would play a lot better,” said Jeff Beck, Tigers assistant coach and offensive coordinator. “After falling behind 14-0, it was tough for us to play catch-up because we’re a running team and don’t really want to pass.”
   After gaining an impressive 140 yards the week before in the Tigers win over Orange Cove, senior running back Daniel Mesa was throttled by a dominating Exeter defense. The stingy Monarchs held the Tigers to just 12 yards rushing and 33 yards passing.
   Coach Beck said Exeter, aligned in the Central Sequoia League with perennial powers like Kingsburg and Immanuel, will surprise some foes and is the best defense Woodlake will face all season. They have at least two All-League players and some really big, tough linemen, he said.
   The lone highlight for the Tigers came in the third quarter on big hit that Mesa made on Exeter fullback, Jaycee Toty. The ball popped out and right into the hands of Ben Rothbaum, the senior safety who ran 26 yards for a touchdown.

  “Ben is our key guy on defense,” Coach Beck said. “He’s been trained by Coach Hernandez not to let anyone get by, and he has the speed to make the big play.”
   Beck said this week it was back to the basics for the Tigers — blocking and tackling and more blocking and tackling. With eight games left, one game is not a season, he said.

  “Our season is about winning the East Sequoia League; not going undefeated,” said Coach Beck. “We are better than what we showed against Exeter and there will be a big improvement against Farmersville tonight [Friday, Sept. 18]. We are going to wear them out with our running game.”

Challah is tradition of Jewish New Year

   Challah is one of the foods likely to appear on Jewish tables next week at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which begins today (Friday, Sept. 18) at sunset.
   Challah is traditional for Sabbath too, and indeed, with its shiny crust and rich eggy flavor it is popular throughout the year.
   But while challah is usually a braided, more or less oval, loaf, at Rosh Hashana it comes instead in a circular form, sometimes braided, and usually decorated with Jewish symbols.
   The round breads of Rosh Hashana signify the cycle of the Jewish year. In the process, Jews hope to grow and learn and become better each year.
   At Rosh Hashana many sweet foods are served to symbolize a sweet beginning to the new cycle of Jewish celebrations.
   In keeping with this, the round challah is generally sweetened, sometimes with raisins as well as honey.
   Jewish people everywhere wish each other “L’Shana Tovah Um’tooka,” which means "For a Sweet New Year."
   Here's a fabulous challah recipe that's perfect for a sweet new year. The extra little braid in the center of the loaf in the shape of a ladder is a symbol that we should climb upward in the new year.


2 packages active dry yeast, or 2 cakes fresh compressed yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups warm water
8-9 cups flour, sifted
¾ cup honey
? cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder, (optional)
¾ cup margarine, room temperature
3 eggs, beaten
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
? teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup raisins

1 egg yolk, beaten w/ 1 tsp. water
sesame or poppy seeds, (optional)


  In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in ½ cup of warm water. Cover and let stand for 5-10 minutes until it foams. Beat in 4 cups of flour and remaining ingredients, except raisins, until smooth (about 5 minutes). Add remaining flour 2 cups at a time, beating well after each addition. Add raisins.   Knead with a dough hook or by hand for 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to grease all over. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until double in bulk (about 1½-2 hours). Punch down. Divide dough into 3 equal parts, setting a handful aside for the ladder. Roll each part into a rope 18 inches long. Taper ends. Coil rope around itself (there should be no hole in the center) and tuck ends under. Place in a round, 9-inch springform pan.
   To make ladder, make 2 pencil-thin strips, 4 inches long, for sides; and 4 thin strips, 2 inches wide, for rungs. Fasten securely to top center of each challah. Cover and place in a warm place for 50 minutes to rise again. Brush with glaze. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, if desired. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 40-45 minutes. When challah is done, it has a hollow sound when tapped on bottom.
   YIELD: 3 challahs

TREW programs and events

   The Three Rivers Environmental Weekend, a two-day annual event, will begin Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Three Rivers Arts Center, followed on Sunday, Oct. 4, by a Green Home Tour, the proceeds of which will benefit Tulare County Citizens for Responsible Growth.
   Saturday’s event will start at 9 a.m. with the California Native Plant Society-Alta Peak Chapter’s annual fall plant sale outside and inside exhibits and information. At 2 p.m., a presentation sponsored by CNPS will be provided by John Muir Laws, artist and author of the Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada.
   A morning presentation and exhibit will feature Max and Jane Eggman of Terra Bella. They produce the only comb honey in the area and will have some to sample and for sale (they will not bring live bees). Guests will find out if bees are faring better than they have been in recent years and what might be the cause of the serious bee colony collapse disorder that has been plaguing bees since at least 2006.
   Scott Barker, who recently published a history of Yokohl Valley (see page 5) will be present for a book-signing. Sequoia Natural History Association will be selling books as well.
   Annie Esperanza, air resources specialist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, will have a multimedia presentation about the environment. There will be a variety of information tables and booths, including TCCRG, CNPS, Family Farm Fresh, and area builders and designers who will retrofit your home or help you build new.
   Mike Cannarozzi will show how the application of a light-colored roofing product can help counteract the effect of melting glaciers on global warming. Brian Rippey will have information on residential and commercial wastewater treatment systems that can be added to an existing septic system to purify water.
   There will be a home-and-garden art booth or two outside, featuring some local talent. Bill Becker and his popular solar-cooking demonstration will again be onsite.
   Lori Werner, spotted owl researcher, will have an exhibit entitled “All About Owls,” which children and adults will find very interesting. There is a rumor that a new species of owl may even show up for the day...
   There will also be a drawing at 4:30 p.m. for free door prizes.
   The Green Home Tour on Sunday will feature five Three Rivers homes. The donation is $15 per person; $25 per couple. To register for a tour — either at noon or 1 p.m. — call 561-4676.
   As it was last year, the tour is registered as part of the ASES National Solar Tour, the largest grassroots solar energy event in the nation. Compare it to other similar tours in California (this is one of only 16) by going to www.nationalsolartour.org. Click on “Find Tours,” then on California.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
© Copyright 2003-2009 The Kaweah Commonwealth