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In the News - Friday, October 4, 2013

 

 

SHUTDOWN

 

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

are a casualty of congressional standoff

 

3R business in a tailspin

 

   When a national park is the driving engine of the local economy and it’s suddenly shuttered, it’s like throwing a huge rock in a pool and watching the splash. At first there is a resounding thud, but it’s the ripple effect sent out in all directions that lingers.

   On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the day that the midnight shutdown of federal facilities took effect, the impacts were felt immediately in Three Rivers by lodging establishments that saw reservations begin to fly off their books.

   Dennis Villavicencio, who owns Sequoia Village Inn and Buckeye Tree Lodge just outside the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park, said the phone started ringing with cancellations at 8 a.m. Most callers said the same thing: With all the uncertainty surrounding the closure, they would be changing their plans.

   Guests already registered began to check out early when their morning walks just around the bend from the nearby motels revealed that a ranger was already stationed at the entrance informing would-be visitors of the closure.

   Park visitors, camped or staying in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, were told they must leave by Thursday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m. Guests with reservations at Wuksachi Lodge were permitted to enter Tuesday and Wednesday but also had to be out by the Thursday deadline.

   A park ranger, who preferred not to be identified, said the closure poses a potentially dire situation for the 63 park employees (284 are on furlough) that remain on duty.

   “There are backpackers in the backcountry who don’t even know the park is closed,” said the ranger. “If there is an accident or search-and-rescue, there are limited resources available to respond.”

   A check at the entrance station Wednesday revealed that most vehicles that attempted to enter were persons who had been on the road for some time or foreign visitors unaware of the closure.

   One German tourist was confused by the government shutdown and remarked: “Why would a government close the best attractions in the U.S. and spoil the holiday of so many who have traveled so far to come here? It makes no sense.”

Villavicencio said he was in a quandary as to what to do.

   “With no guests, we have no work for the 18 workers who we employ,” Villavicencio said. “If Sequoia remains closed, we’re going to start laying people off.”

   The scenario is similar at other Three Rivers establishments like Comfort Inn. Staff there reported $6,000 in losses in the first couple of days following the closure.

   What makes the situation in Three Rivers even more ironic is the fact that for the months of October and November, the so-called shoulder season, there were a record number of reservations on the books of several local innkeepers.

   Lynn Bretz, owner of Reimer’s Candies and Gifts in Three Rivers and Oakhurst (gateway town near Yosemite’s south entrance), said that what’s been happening in Yosemite is responsible for an uptick in numbers in Three Rivers.

   “In the early season, there was no water in Yosemite, so the waterfalls were not the attraction this year,” Bretz reported. “Then from July on, there was the fallout from the Rim Fire. In the Yosemite area, this closure is a triple whammy.”

   But Bretz says where Yosemite business is off 25 to 30 percent, many of those visitors are being re-directed to visit the giant sequoias here. That misfortune for Yosemite has translated to one of the busiest seasons on record for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Three Rivers.

   The longer the closure, the more those record numbers of reservations will disappear from Three Rivers.

   PEACEFUL PROTEST— “We can’t afford to stand by and let this happen,” said Villavicencio. “I’m asking everyone to attend a rally on Friday [today], at noon, at the Ash Mountain entrance. We need to send a message to Congress that we are sick and tired of all the grandstanding.”

 

Lake Kaweah scheduled

to close October 7

 

   As of Sunday, Oct. 6, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel at Lake Kaweah will begin implementing closure of all facilities, including Horse Creek Campground, Lemon Hill Visitor Center, all boat ramps, and the Kaweah Marina.

   Houseboat owners will continue to be granted access to their property but are not permitted to leave the dock and go out on the water.

   All gates at parking areas will be locked. Pedestrians, bikers, kayakers, anglers, and vehicles of any kind are not permitted to use Lake Kaweah facilities nor access any portions of the federal property throughout the government shutdown.

   “We’ll have a limited staff that will be patrolling Lake Kaweah to enforce the closure,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah general manager. “Let’s hope and pray this closure will end sooner than later.”

 

Ravens highlight library evening program

 

   The Friends of the Three Rivers Library will present a special evening program on Thursday, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m., in celebration of the community’s Raven Festival this month. Here are the three Three Rivers women who are on the schedule of the “Ravens, Ravens, Ravens” program:

   Dee Pinhey,  a 21-year Three Rivers resident, has enjoyed raising birds for most of her life. Canaries interested her as a young girl, but she soon added cockatoos and parrots. Dee will share her experiences of rescuing two baby ravens and raising them cage free.

  Elizabeth Holliday has been watching raptors and corvids with great interest since 2003 when she began giving guided poetry tours of the Robinson Jeffers Tor House and Hawk Tower in Carmel. She has told stories as a school librarian at Hamlin School for Girls in San Francisco and also as a documentary filmmaker.

During the library’s evening event, Elizabeth will present two stories from the indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest, the stronghold of raven religion.

Learn why Raven is black and the world imperfect and about Raven, the Shaman, and the lost spirit. Be prepared to suspend reality and enter the world of myth, the World of Raven the Creator, and Raven the Transformer.

  Christina Lynch will read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.  Chris is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of City of Dark Magic and its sequel City of Lost Dreams (Penguin Books) that will be released in November.

Once upon a midnight dreary...

The Raven, published in January 1845, was at first rejected,  then sold for $9 to the New York Evening Mirror. It was a huge hit and reprinted nationwide, making Poe one of the most famous poets in America and ensuring that The Raven would be read in American schools for years to come. The poem’s spooky, supernatural mood and themes of devotion, insanity, and death make it perfect for the Halloween season.

And the raven,

never flitting, still is sitting...

Lynch will follow her reading of Poe’s poem with a parody written especially for the Three Rivers audience and containing references to local places and situations.

“The tradition of lampooning Poe’s poem goes almost as far back as The Raven  itself,”  said Lynch. “The oldest parody of it I found was from 1853, and was called ‘The Vulture,’ and one of the newer ones was called ‘Not Al Gore.’”

Chris declined to reveal details of her Poe parody, saying, “If you want to know if you’re mentioned, come to the library on October 10th!”

Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

 

Environmental speaker

plans stop in Three Rivers

 

   An acclaimed and entertaining speaker, Guy McPherson, who travels the country to educate the populace on the consequences of the nation’s fossil-fuel addiction, will make a brief stop in Three Rivers to provide a presentation. Dr. McPherson personalizes his programs to his audiences, so while here he will discuss the affects of pollution and other outside factors such as agricultural chemicals on the local ecosystem and, specifically, the giant sequoias of the southern Sierra Nevada region.

   McPherson lives what he speaks. The former University of Arizona professor walked away from his career to write, speak, and practice sustainable living. He lives in an off-grid, straw-bale house and raises his own food.

   McPherson’s presentation will take place at the Three Rivers Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event are $12, available at Chump’s DVDs or at the door, which will be used to pay for travel expenses. Additional proceeds will be donated locally to the Three Rivers Bread Basket.

 

Environmentally sensitive and aesthetic:

Seventh annual tour will view four homes

 

   Sunday, Oct. 13, will mark the seventh year for the Three Rivers Green Home Tour. It is part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour, which is the largest event of its kind.

   This year, tour participants will visit four sites in Three Rivers, all of them with magnificent views.

   The first stop will be a residence near the entrance of Sequoia National Park. Blessed with a majestic view of Alta Peak and surrounding mountains, the present owners of the pre-existing home have added solar panels tied to the grid, and made other choices to reduce energy consumption. Tour participants will also enjoy the mature garden of mostly native plants.

   The second stop the carpool caravan will make is five mile up South Fork Drive at Cinnamon Canyon Road. Perched high on a hill, this home has just recently been completed.

   It is compact, energy efficient, and primarily passively solar heated and cooled. It was designed by a local architect, and built by local contractors and craftsmen. A long list of passive solar options and energy-efficient components have been incorporated.

   Heading back downhill a bit, the third home is a quality and beautifully situated pre-existing home that the present owners fell in love with immediately. They soon set about reducing the large energy and water consumption that came with the property. Natives and other dry climate plants now. They installed a large grid-tied solar array and made other energy-efficient adjustments to their space.

   Since the array went online in April, the owners say that they have reduced their carbon footprint by 12,686 pounds of CO2, or the equivalent of planting 141 trees and growing them for 10 years, or not driving 12,562 miles in a standard automobile. They will have a solar representative present to answer questions.

   The fourth and final stop on the tour is a home that was also locally designed and built. Seen on our tour several years ago, it is predominantly passively solar heated and cooled.

   The owners are very interested in producing much of their own organic food and generously share their knowledge with the community. They will also share their barn for a final event, which will be a PowerPoint presentation by architect Sharon Sheltzer, a former resident of Three Rivers. She will discuss a variety of green building techniques, comparing and contrasting them from practical, economic, and aesthetic points of view. In addition to living in Three Rivers for 10 years, Sharon has designed many beautiful, energy-efficient dwellings here. These homes incorporate building techniques using straw bale, rammed earth, and insulated concrete forms. Dessert will follow.

   Due to limited space, reservations are required for the two Green Home Tour carpool groups. The first begins at noon, and another at 1 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Sierra Club.

   For information and reservations, call 561-4676.

 

Three Rivers Memorial District to host

Veterans and Community Information event

 

   Mark your calendars for Wednesday, Oct. 9, and plan to attend the Three Rivers Veterans and Community Information Event to be held at the Three Rivers Memorial Building from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Modeled after an event that has been held for many years at the Tulare Veterans Memorial Building, the occasion will bring together a wide variety of agencies and organizations that can provide attendees with information ranging from veteran services to employment assistance as well as Social Security benefit information.

   Volunteers have been preparing for the last several months and are now actively soliciting monetary and in-kind donations to make this occasion a big success. Although this event is being hosted by the Three Rivers Memorial District, regulations strictly prohibit the use of any Memorial District funds for the purchase of refreshments or advertising, so donations are being sought from businesses and organizations throughout the foothills communities to support this event.

   The Three Rivers Woman’s Club, Three Rivers Lions Club, and several area businesses have already made generous donations. The Three Rivers Village Foundation has graciously agreed to accept monetary donations on behalf of the function.

   Additional volunteers are needed on event day. Displaying and retrieving the American flags  always takes a few extra hands. We will also need some assistance setting up and taking down the tables and chairs, along with some help in the kitchen serving light refreshments to the representatives of the agencies and organizations in attendance.

   For additional information, call Mo Basham, Three Rivers Memorial District board member, at 561-4988.

 

Town Meeting to feature park closure, crime updates

 

   Ask any American what matters most? The economy and public safety affect everyone and are the issues mentioned most often.

   Three Rivers is no different than Main Street USA when it comes to these all-important issues. On Monday, Oct. 7, when the Town Hall meeting resumes after a one-month hiatus, updates on the federal facilities shutdown and efforts to fight crime top the agenda.

   Woody Smeck, furloughed superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, will be in attendance.

   “There’s really not too much I can add to what most people already know but I think it’s important that I be there and hear what the community has to say,” Smeck said.

   Dana Dierkes, Sequoia and Kings Canyon public information officer, will also attend to provide some background and answer parks-related questions.   

   Supervisor Allen Ishida will present the big picture on the county’s economic outlook and hit the highlights of the county’s new budget for fiscal year 2013-2014.

   “The part of the budget that relates to District One and Three Rivers is for law enforcement and fire protection,” Ishida said.

   Lt. Mark Gist, head of Tulare County Sheriff’s Department’s Gang Violence Suppression Unit, will be on hand to furnish an update on efforts to curb gang violence in Three Rivers. Lt. Gist will also have a property crimes detective as a part of his presentation to answer questions about recent burglaries.

   Scott Doyle, Three Rivers resident deputy, is calling for more Neighbor Watch volunteers and is hoping to have a prototype of the signs that will be distributed around Three Rivers. Attendees will also receive a form for documenting and reporting suspicious persons and activities.

   “Keeping Three Rivers safe and catching the bad guys takes a community effort,” Deputy Doyle said. “The proof is in the statistics. Neighborhood Watch works.”

  The meeting is sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation and scheduled for Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. For information, call 561-3627.

 

OBITUARY

 

Gary Jeffries

1936 ~ 2013

   Gary Jeffries of Three Rivers died Sunday, Sept. 29, in Visalia. He was 77.

   Gary was born March 14, 1936, in Altadena, Calif., to Herbert and Lois Jeffries. He was raised in Pasadena and graduated from Muir High School, Occidental College, and Loyola Law School.

   He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958 to 1963. He was an attorney. Nine years ago,  Gary and his wife relocated from Southern California to Three Rivers.

   In addition to his wife of 35 years, Christie, Gary is survived by his son, Kenny, and wife Sandy; son Kevin and wife Dana; stepson Richie Hearn; daughter Michelle; and his grandchildren.

   A celebration of Gary’s life will be held Saturday, Nov. 9, in Pasadena.

 

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