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In the News - Friday, September 27, 2013




SEPTEMBER 27, 2013,





Cooler temperatures breathe

life back into river, lake, crops


  A couple of weeks ago when daytime temperatures were at or near triple digits, Kaweah River flows approached historic lows. In fact, some parts of the South Fork and other places in the Kaweah drainage had no water at all.

  But on the way ever closer to the first significant rainfall of the season, nature did its fall thing and suddenly there was a trickle in places that a day or two ago were dry.

   “The cooler temperatures cause the trees to shut down and all that water they were using to survive the hot summer is suddenly in the ditch again,” said James Birch, an organic farmer on the North Fork who has been subject to the fickle whims of the river to make his seasonal crop.

   “I had potatoes planted this summer but we lost the entire crop because we had no water,” he said.

  Cattle ranchers have been feeling the drier seasonal pinch feeding their stock lots more hay this year. That’s nothing new during long, hot summers in Tulare County but the more months with no grass means higher costs to the consumer.

  A single, drier than normal season is a mixed bag of tricks for San Joaquin Valley farmers. Some crops fare better like navel oranges that are coming in earlier and are expected to be similar quantity and quality.

  Olives, being picked right now, are being touted as a bumper crop. Corn still in the husk is destined for the feedlots. Local squash, eggplant, okra, peppers, pears, peaches are still available at farmer’s markets.   

  Looking back on the last three decades of storage and use of Lake Kaweah, there have been lots of low flows so in the big picture, 2013 has been a year of concern but not one to sound the alarm, at least not yet.

  Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah’s general manager, said that mean inflow readings like 25 cubic feet per second or even lower earlier this month are not uncommon. The mean inflow is a calculation of all the tributaries of the Kaweah that drain into the reservoir, and August through October traditionally see extremely low flows.

  In 2008 and 2009, there were typical September readings of 12 cfs, 19 cfs, and 22 cfs, all calculations that looked a like this September.

  “On September 9, 1989, we actually recorded a -5 cfs on a warm and dry afternoon,” Phil reported. “That calculation factored in the evaporation, so for all intents and purposes there was virtually no flow into the basin and the river stopped running.”

   The year 1990 was also a dry one with similar numbers to the current season. There were no readings above 30 cfs for the month of September; the low was a trickle of 3 cfs. In October 1990, there was nothing above 24 cfs, so it remained above normal in temperatures and the so-called Indian summer persisted.

   On September 30, 1990, the storage at Lake Kaweah was 10,299 acre feet. On Wednesday, Sept. 25, nearly 23 years later it was 14,665. The fact that the basin was enlarged in 2004 to hold another 40,000 acre feet when full doesn’t affect or determine how much is in the pool on September 30.

   That decision is based upon the needs of farmers downstream and where and how the Kaweah Delta Conservation District diverts Lake Kaweah water within the Tulare basin. For the time being, no matter how much things change, for the use and storage of Kaweah River water, things remain pretty much the same. 


‘Covered California’ opens October 1


  The state’s new health insurance marketplace will open for business Tuesday, Oct. 1, and Californians will begin to enroll for coverage that is mandatory under the Affordable Care Act, now in its third year of implementation. The official enrollment website (www.coveredca.com) will be up and running, and trained counselors will be able to assist enrollees in determining the appropriate coverage, which will begin January 1, 2014.

  Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California is charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health care coverage.

  Consumers can compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses will be able to purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer employees the ability to choose from an array of plans that may qualify for federal tax credits.

  Those who already have healthcare insurance that they are satisfied with are not required to take any action. They are considered covered. 

  The opening of the health benefit exchanges throughout the country signals the biggest change in health care since Medicare was established in 1965. Commonly called “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act guarantees the opportunity for individuals, families, and small businesses to enroll in quality, cost-effective health care.

  The tier coverage is based on income levels so some Californians will qualify for subsidized coverage or no-cost Medi-Cal. The board chair of Covered California is Diana Dooley.

  On Tuesday at 1 p.m. Dooley is speaking at a special event at Fresno State commemorating the historic launch of Covered California. Dooley and several other speakers will be featured in the program at the Free Speech Area next to the FSU Student Union.

  Enrollment through Covered California continues through March 1, 2014. Health coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2014.

  For more information, go to www.healthcare.gov.


California raises minimum wage


  California has become the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour, with the increase to take place gradually through the start of 2016, under a bill Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

  This is the first increase in the state’s minimum wage since it was raised to $8 per hour in 2008.

  Assembly Bill 10 will raise California’s minimum wage in two one-dollar increments, from $8 per hour today to $9 per hour, effective July 1, 2014, and from $9 per hour to $10 per hour, effective January 1, 2016.

  State Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-30th District), the bill’s author, said it would help working people pay for necessities in a state where rising costs have long outpaced wage increases for the poor and working class. But Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, a former Tulare County supervisor sees it differently.

  “To cover the costs of this increase, employers will have to cut hours and hire fewer workers,”she said. “The legislature should be taking steps to create more high-paying jobs, not penalizing the people who need the help the most.”

  The state that currently has the highest minimum wage is Washington at $9.19 per hour. That could rise to above $10 an hour by 2016 because it is set to increase with certain indicators of inflation.



3R hand analyst highlighted

in national publication


  The soul print for anyone’s life is locked in the skin carvings on the hands and most importantly the fingerprint patterns.

  Intriguing. And apparently the folks at Real Simple magazine thought so too.

  This statement is on the American Academy of Hand Analysis website, which is owned by Kay Packard of Three Rivers. Out of the blue a few months ago, a representative from the widely read publication contacted Kay. In fact, the phone call was so unexpected that Kay was suspicious and went to the effort of verifying it to make sure it was real.

  It turned out to be all above board, and the result is a feature in Real Simple’s October issue entitled “How to Read a Palm.”

  But while the print edition is all about Kay’s palm-reading expertise, there is an online version that extends the interview to include the fingers (“What Do Your Fingers Say About You?”).

  Kay, who was raised in Three Rivers and graduated from Woodlake High School, has been reading hands professionally for 10 years. In June 2010, Kay founded the American Academy of Hand Analysis. And, last month, she received her master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology.

  For more information about hand analysis or to schedule a session, call Kay at 561-4490.




Velma Peterson

Oldest Three Rivers resident

1912 ~ 2013


  Velma Peterson, a resident of Three Rivers for 50 years, died Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. She was 101.

  Velma was born August 20, 1912, in Kansas, where she was raised and educated. In 1936, she married E.T. “Taylor” Peterson.

  The couple moved west, first settling in Santa Monica, where Velma was a teacher for the primary grades in the Santa Monica School District.

  The couple had always planned to move to Three Rivers upon retirement after discovering the town while traveling to Sequoia, but decided not to wait. They came here in the 1960s, and Velma continued her teaching career at Sequoia Union School.

  Taylor and Velma were one of 12 families who had a cabin, built in 1918, at Camp Conifer, a former cabin community at mile 17 on the Mineral King Road. The cabins were razed ca. 1980.

  In recent years, Velma continued to reside in her Three Rivers home with the assistance of a caregiver.

  “My life is limited now, but I am pretty lucky to live 100 years,” she said last year during a TKC interview in honor of her 100th birthday.

  When asked what her formula is for longevity, Velma said, “I was born on a farm, and we always ate a healthy diet. We stayed active and spent lots of time riding horses and hiking in the mountains... Eat good food and stay active as long as you can.”

  Velma was preceded in death by her husband, Taylor.

  She is survived by her son, Jay Peterson, of Exeter; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

  A private family service will be held.

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
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