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In the News - Friday, October 5, 2012





Tree brings down power lines


Power interrupted during

presidential debate as crews clear debris


  There’s a convergence of uncanny incidents happening on North Fork Drive, a quarter-mile up from the North Fork Bridge, and hopefully the bizarre events will end soon. The latest incident involved a huge oak tree that fell across North Fork Dr., blocking traffic for several hours until a Southern California Edison crew could clean up the mess of downed power lines.

  Fortunately, nobody was hurt when the landmark oak fell, but the power outage that ensued knocked out the electricity to dozens of homes in the area just as the candidates were being introduced for first presidential debate (6:10 p.m.). The power was restored at 8:30 p.m.

  In the past several weeks, the neighborhood has experienced two threatening fires  — the Fork Fire (Aug. 14) and the chicken coop blaze (Aug. 16) — and over the past few months,  two serious vehicle accidents (May 9 and July 30). All four of the incidents occurred with a 400-yard radius of each other.

  Drivers routinely take the curve in the road at the location too fast and often there’s a rollover and almost always a serious accident.

  The fires are less common and without the quick work of locals could easily have been major disasters.


Health concerns remain for ‘smart meters’


  Despite the reassuring comments made at the Three Rivers town meeting on Monday, Oct. 1, by Bill DeLain, Southern Cal Edison’s regional general manager, reports of health-related symptoms continue to come in from everywhere the installations of SmartConnect meters have been completed.

  “I know of no connection to any health risks,” DeLain told the Three Rivers audience.

  Complaints have been reported from urban centers where there are multiple sources of microwave transmitting. Where population density is high, meters are adding to the ambient radiation already being generated by cell towers and local digital networks. In addition to the smart meters for electricity, gas and water meters in those areas are going digital too.

  The digital meters use ongoing pulsed radio frequencies to relay information to the utility company employees in trucks or to fixed receiver networks. First installed in 2001 as part of a new wireless grid technology, smart meters are replacing the old analog meters.

  In some areas, the older smart meter models have been upgraded to new stronger transmitters without the knowledge of customers. DeLain assured Three Rivers residents that the local wireless network will employ a weak signal.

  A growing body of evidence is showing harmful effects related to smart meters among many persons across a wide demographic area. In several states, a number of residents have reported feeling ill. 

  “Patients are reporting to physicians feeling symptoms and adverse health effects after the smart meters were installed in their homes,” said Dr. Amy Dean, president-elect of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.

  An increasing number of people are complaining of a constant ringing in the ears, headaches, heart palpitations, lethargy, and sleep disruption, all symptoms of exposure to radio frequency after the meters have been installed. Dr. Dean said chronic exposure can be extremely harmful, and one researcher found the level of ambient radiation in one home to have increased by 100,000 times.

  The smart meters are part of a mesh system and rely on dense networks of a distributed wireless cellular and Wi-Fi antennas. These transmitters communicate data and “ping” each other to maintain a live connection.

  Health effects, that is whether a patient experiences symptoms, are directly correlated to where meters are situated (some a few feet from the kitchen table or adjacent to a bedroom wall) and how often the utility company transmits data. When the program began, the meters transmitted a few times a day for short durations; as the technology has evolved, the transmissions are constant and occur thousands of times daily.

  “…Not quite in real time but close,” DeLain told the Three Rivers audience.

The system, he said, will work like a cell phone and utilize the same wireless network connections.


Lemon Cove postmaster appointed


By Holly Gallo


  Stella Ryland will be assuming the recently vacated position of postmaster for the Lemon Cove Post Office. Stella moved to Lemon Cove three years ago from Lindsay, yet she is no stranger to serving any community in which she resides.

  As a mother of three, Stella held a full-time position in raising her family for most of the 43 years she lived in Lindsay. As her children grew older, however, she was able to dedicate much of her time to community service.

  In the past, Stella held positions as an eligibility worker in the Porterville branch of the Tulare County Social Services Department, a distribution technician at Kaweah Delta, and activities director for the U.S. Postal Service.

  “I was pretty involved with my children,” she said, and took jobs when and where she could.

  Stella jumped at the chance when she saw that the postmaster position was available. She felt that when she first moved to Lemon Cove, the job market seemed to be limited.

  “I didn’t want to drive out of town every day,” she said.

  When Janet King retired from the postmaster position, Stella thought that it “seemed like the best job in town.”

  As postmaster, Stella looks forward to giving the community the services that they need.

  “It’s also neat to see so many different people traveling to Sequoia and Yosemite. Their packages and letters home are important to them,” she said.


Kaweah Delta Medical Center

breaks ground on helipad


  Hospital officials and community supporters held the official ground-breaking on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in Visalia for their new helipad. Lindsay Mann, CEO, marked the occasion by thanking all the fundraising team members for their collective efforts and hard work in making the project a reality.

  According to Doug Berg, chair of the Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation board of directors, said the fundraising campaign to date has raised a total of $1,926,000. Kaweah Delta employees and staff have chipped in more than $800,000 while Senator Dianne Feinstein secured a $495,000 appropriation.

  The construction project, within the medical center complex northwest of the emergency room receiving area, is already underway and is expected to be completed by April 2013. The project will assure that critically ill and trauma patients from the nearby national parks and foothills communities like Three Rivers can get a speedier transport and have a greater chance for survival and recovery.

  Several hundred thousand dollars are still needed to complete the project, and the Three Rivers community has stepped up to help KDMC reach its final fundraising goal.

  “The Three Rivers campaign has already raised $40,000 in just a few months, and that’s fabulous,” said Dena Cochran, vice president of development for the Kaweah Delta Health Care District. “Fast, safe access to medical care really seems to resonate with Three Rivers residents. I never realized before personally visiting just how difficult it is to reach some of the places out here.”

  The helipad project complements the facilities needed for Kaweah Delta Medical Center’s new fully accredited trauma center. National statistics have proven that trauma patients treated in a trauma center have a 25 percent greater chance for survival.


Cesar Chavez National Monument

is newest addition to National Park System


By Holly Gallo


  President Barack Obama will be designating the first national monument honoring a Latino American on Monday, Oct. 8, when he travels to the region to establish the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument at Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz in the community of Keen in the Tehachapi foothills of Kern County. On a passing tour through California, President Obama will visit the historic site that had previously served as headquarters of the United Farm   Workers in 1972 and Cesar and Helen Chavez’s home until his death in 1993.

  The Cesar Chavez Foundation communications director Marc Grossman said that foundation administrators and White House officials are still working on an arrangement as far as a daily itinerary is concerned, but an initial White House team was sent to the site for an overview on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

  The monument will encompass a visitor center, the Chavez home, the United Farm Workers legal aid offices, and the Chavez Memorial Garden that contains Chavez’s gravesite in addition to other structures in the facility. Grossman said that the facilities were donated to the federal government by the foundation and will be staffed and operated by the National Park Service.

  “La Paz was at the center of some of the most significant civil rights moments in our nation’s history,” President Obama said in a White House press release. “By designating it a national   monument, Chavez’s legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come.”

  The designation of this national monument marks the passing of 60 years since Chavez first stepped onto the civil rights stage in 1952 as an organizer for the Community Service Organization. While Chavez then went on to become the CSO’s national director, he is best known for his work with the National Farm Workers Association and his tireless efforts at improving working conditions, wages, and bargaining rights of farm workers throughout the nation, and California in particular, through the use of non-violent direct action.

  “President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the National Park Service’s Call to Action report, and the National Park Second Century Commission report all called for advancing and diversifying our country’s national parks to protect and honor our heritage,” said Tom Kiernan, National Parks Conservation Association president. “The Cesar E. Chavez National Monument is a tremendous step forward in realizing this shared goal.”

  Kiernan also noted the particular importance of timing in regard to this designation, as its establishment arises in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month. It also “comes at a pivotal time” when the National Park Service draws near its 2016 centennial celebration.

  While the monument honors a national civil rights hero, it also serves particular importance in recognizing the cultural heritage of California’s Central Valley, the premier location of Chavez’s social activism.

  In 1966, Chavez led a 250-mile march from Delano to Sacramento to raise awareness of the mistreatment of farm workers, as well as two other 1,000-mile marches in 1975 and 1992 through the Central Valley, which served to call attention to union elections and demand improved working conditions. As a result of this collective action, Chavez and other activists secured basic rights for farm workers, from limiting exposure to harmful pesticides to establishing basic wages.

  Beginning in 1968 and multiplying in various forms through the ‘70s, the famous nationwide boycott of grapes and lettuce won Senator Robert Kennedy’s public support and succeeded in bringing higher wages to farm workers and brought about the passing of the California Agricultural Labor Restrictions Act and collective bargaining rights of farm workers unions.

  “It is essential that our National Park System continues to evolve and tell the many stories of our nation’s history and cultural heritage,” Keirnan said.

  Dana Dierkes, public affairs specialist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon, said that while they know that they will “be involved” with the management of the memorial, “we don’t know to what extent yet.” The NPS will be working in coalition with the National Chavez Center and the Cesar Chavez Foundation to manage the facilities.

  The National Chavez Center, United Farm Workers of America, Cesar Chavez Foundation, and members of the Chavez family have donated particular properties of the site to the federal government in a “culmination of a process that has been underway for several years” to commemorate the activist.             


Library support group reorganized


  The Three Rivers Library recently reorganized its volunteer group. The former group, the Book Worms, has been inactive due to many of its members moving away.  

The new Friends of the Library was organized September 20, 2012. The newly elected officers are: Teri Safranek, president; Deniese Nesmith, vice president; Marcia Goldstein, secretary/treasurer. 

  The group also established dates for the semi-annual book sale fundraisers. The book sales will be held in conjunction with the community yard sales at Juliet and Hector Delcon’s property adjacent to the former Cider Mill. Plans are to hold these events on the first Saturday of November and May each year.  

  Anyone interested in joining this organization is welcome.  The next meeting will be held at the library on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m.  

  “The Three Rivers Library provides many valuable resources to the community,” said Teri Safranek, president. “Did you know that you can check out a Nook downloaded with a book to read?”   For more information on the Friends of the Library or the book sale events, contact Teri at 561-4853.


3R woman wins motorcycle raffle


  Rocky River Wear announced the winner of their raffle fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 30 at River View Restaurant. After selling approximately 250 of 600 available tickets at $20 a piece, owner Steve Gitchell was proud to present the 2006 Honda TVX 1300 C that had adorned the walkway of his clothing boutique over the past summer to Three Rivers local Dana Sun.

  Between Dana and her boyfriend, they purchased $500 in tickets; but Dana said that she didn’t do it just for a chance to win.

  “I bought the tickets because the money went to a good cause,” she said. “I don’t even ride a bike. I guess I’m going to learn to ride now! It was always on the bucket list, I just never pursued it.”

  The $1,500 in proceeds from the raffle was donated to the Marcus Ray Corral Foundation of Lindsay, which benefits victims of violent crimes.

  Gitchell also offered a “huge thank you to the Three Rivers community” for all of their support. In addition to the bike, 40 other concession prizes were given away, donated by Sayler Saddlery, The River View, and Rocky River Wear.




Class of ’73: ‘Open-classroom’ teaching comes to TRUS


By Jay O’Connell


  It’s back-to-school season, which inspires reflection by many of the school days of yesteryear. Inspired by the upcoming all-school Three Rivers Union School Reunion on Saturday, Oct. 6, Jay O’Connell has written a five-part series on his memories of TRUS as part of the Class of 1973.

Part Four

  Of all the memories I have from my years at TRUS, I have few recollections of doing any actual schoolwork. (Okay, I vaguely remember learning to write cursive with a thick blue pencil; I sort of remember memorizing my times tables; and I can still picture the snazzy illustrations that accompanied such exciting prose as “See Dick Run.”)

  I know we must have had assignments, homework, and tests in every grade, but I just don’t remember them. The one exception was sixth grade.

  It was the one year I remember actually learning and being engaged in the assignments. And the lessons learned were from more than just the schoolwork.  

  As discussed in the previous installment of this memoir [September 28], sixth grade for us was a revolution of sorts. We were allowed to call our teacher, Bill Chivers, by his first name. He declared the Flag Salute optional.

  Indeed, much became optional that wild and woolly year. Things like homework and desks and all manner of conventional decorum. It was 1970, and Three Rivers School was undergoing a hippie makeover.

  I, for one, couldn’t have been more thrilled. The community at large, not so much.

  Basically, as I remember it, the you-know-what hit the fan. But again, as I stated in last week’s installment, the community reaction was ripe with exaggeration and misunderstanding.

  It was also true that Bill had us doing some pretty crazy hippie stuff. He read us Tolkein. We had a parachute hanging from the ceiling. We burned incense — and there was the time Mike Rohan brought in some “special incense,” which turned out to be a smoke bomb. That really cleared the room.

  At one point, under pressure from what must have been a PTA meeting to rival anything Harper Valley ever had, Bill showed up in class with his hair cut and sporting a necktie. We suddenly had desks again, arranged in straight and narrow rows.

  And I remember Bill slamming a big math textbook down on the floor, the bang punctuating his announcement that we were going to play by the old rules. I can’t remember how long that lasted. Not very. I don’t recall ever really playing by the old rules that year.

  But I do remember some rules that Bill insisted we follow. And I remember the schoolwork he assigned. And I will always remember the things I learned that year.

  One rule Bill had was that we could not say or do anything to offend anyone else. That was a responsibility of freedom. We had one whole wall in the classroom — our “expression” wall — upon which we could paint or write anything. Anything, provided it did not offend anyone else.

  Needless to say, that rule was sometimes broken, but the expectation was made clear. The lesson was set forth.

  As for homework, sixth grade was ironically the only year I remember actually doing any. Bill gave us a number of long-term assignments. Two of these fostered my interest in writing.

  One was a personal journal that we were required (strongly encouraged) to write in every day. Didn’t matter what we wrote, the only rule (guideline) was to write in it every day.

  Another assignment involved observational writing. We were to plot out somewhere in our yard or a nearby hillside 10 square yards, and then describe everything that happened in that plot over the course of the year.

  Environment was the big word that year. That assignment brought that word into focus.

  And that was further reinforced for me by my science project that year. My lab partner and I created a river ecosystem in an aquarium.  Ecosystem was another big word that year.

I also remember a report I did on Ecuador that year. To this day, I would know virtually nothing about Ecuador were it not for sixth grade.

  But it wasn’t learning about Ecuador that mattered, it was the gathering and presentation of information that provided such a valuable lesson. Who knew I’d someday live in the information age.

  Jay O’Connell was raised in Three Rivers and currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and two sons.  

  Editor’s Note: William “Bill” Chivers died of a heart attack on April 29, 1999, at his Three Rivers home.


The open-classroom movement


  The open-classroom movement originated in British public elementary schools after World War II. The movement, known then as informal education, spread slowly to the United States.

  Some American educators viewed informal education – or, as they came to call it, open classrooms or open education – as an answer to both the American education system’s critics and the problems of U.S. society.

  The focus of open classrooms’ was on students “learning by doing” and resonated with those who believed that America’s formal, teacher-led classrooms were crushing creativity. In that sense the open-classroom movement mirrored the social, political, and cultural changes of the 1960s and early 1970s. 

  Open classrooms contained no whole-class lessons, no standardized tests, and no detailed curriculum. The best of the open classrooms had planned settings where students came in contact with things, books, and one another at “interest centers” and learned at their own pace with the help of the teacher. Teachers structured the classroom and activities for individual students and small work groups. They helped students negotiate each of the reading, math, science, art, and other interest centers on the principle that children learn best when they are interested and see the importance of what they are doing.

  While the open classroom has disappeared from the vocabulary of educators, another variation of open education is likely to reappear in the years ahead. Deep-seated progressive and traditional beliefs about rearing children, classroom teaching and learning, and the values and knowledge that should be instilled in the next generation will continue to reappear because schools historically have been battlegrounds for solving national problems and working out differences in values.






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