this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
There were announcements, updates, and
some good news at last Monday evening’s
Town Hall meeting at the Three Rivers
Memorial Building. The monthly forum,
hosted by the Three Rivers Village Foundation,
is a great way to stay informed on county
issues and in the community loop.
Among the good news was a presentation
by Johnny Wong, operations manager with
Tulare County’s transportation department.
Wong unveiled plans for a bridge improvement
near the entrance to the Cherokee Oaks
Measure R funds will be used to expand
the existing bridge width from 21 feet
to 32 feet, Wong said. The project could
have a budget soon and start construction
as early as October 20.
“We need a wider bridge to make
that stretch of roadway safe,” Wong
said. “The new bridge will be a
A panel of fire experts was also on hand
to debrief the audience on the spate of
late-season fires that caused some of
the smokiest air quality ever recorded
in the Kaweah canyon during September.
According to Deb Schweizer,
the parks’ fire education specialist,
the big culprit was the Hidden Fire, which
was ignited by lightning on September
10 and eventually consumed 3,700 acres.
It will continue to smolder, she said,
until there’s some significant rainfall.
“The last time that area burned
was in the Kaweah Fire of 1926,”
Schweizer said. “The steep terrain
and the heavy fuel caused some rollouts
that made the fire extremely dangerous
for crews on the ground.”
Schweizer said that although
there’s been plenty of fire this
season, two prescribed burns, one in Cedar
Grove, and another in Mineral King, may
still be ignited.
“We’re going to keep a close
watch and if we get the good weather conditions
we will ignite those fires,” Schweitzer
Those burns — Cedar
Bluffs and Davenport — are planned
for 1,006 acres and 858 acres, respectively.
They are both designed for community protection,
Schweitzer said, .
Several in the audience wanted
to hear details of the Dinely fire. The
September 15 fire was sparked by a property
owner who was clearing land in the river
bottom with a tractor.
The flames burned up toward
Dinely Drive and threatened nearby homes.
The quick work of park helicopters helped
Tulare County and Cal Fire units on the
ground to get control of that potentially
“We treat your property as if it’s
our own property,” said Captain
Pennington, Tulare County Fire Department.
“We might work for different agencies
but we’re all on the same team.”
Battalion Chief Paul Marquez,
Cal Fire, said his department has responsibility
for wildland fire in the Three Rivers
environs. He said that his inspectors
and firefighters are working to help local
property owners to reduce potential hazards.
“We urge you all to help us by taking
personal responsibility for the area around
your home,” said Chief Ed Wristen,
Cal Fire. “Ask yourself, could I
make it if nobody shows up?”
At the recent Dinely fire,
the response was textbook, everything
worked according to plan, and there were
no big fires burning anywhere else that
could draw down on local resources.
“On some days that won’t be
the case and we are simply outgunned,”
Chief Wristen said. “When that happens,
you all need to be prepared.”
Kevin Marks from Tulare County’s
Office of Emergency Services spoke briefly
and said a disaster preparedness guide
is in the works modeled after one used
in Kern County. When it is distributed
it will answer lots of questions as to
what to do in case of an emergency and
address evacuation plans.
To assist with evacuations,
the county recently purchased a reverse
“The system has worked great in
San Diego County and should be operational
here soon,” Marks said. “We
won’t have to wait until you call
us with an emergency, we’ll call
Marks also said he is looking
for Three Rivers volunteers to participate
in a workgroup to help with disaster preparedness.
Interested parties should contact Marks
by calling (800) 834-7121.
SEQUOIA AND KINGS
CANYON NATIONAL PARKS— Alexandra
Picavet, spokesperson for Sequoia and
Kings Canyon National Parks, said summer
visitation was down two percent but more
than 1,100 tour buses visited the parks,
bringing a record number of Europeans.
Unfortunately, those buses and any vehicle
over 40 feet in length must enter from
the Highway 180 entrance at Big Stump,
so those tourist dollars were detoured
away from Three Rivers.
But Three Rivers can expect
visitors of another kind during the current
season. It’s a banner year for bears
and they don’t know boundaries,
Picavet said, so many park bears will
find their way to the bumper crop of local
acorns. She asked that all local residents
be extra careful and bring pet food in
at night and stow all garbage in bear-proof
The motorcyclist who was airlifted after
a September 9 accident on the Generals
Highway near Potwisha in Sequoia National
Park died from his injuries on Monday,
Sept. 15. The San Diego man, who was not
immediately identified after the accident,
No other vehicles were involved in the
crash. A factor in the fatality, investigators
said, was that the motorcycle was traveling
at a high rate of speed.
In another park fatality that occurred
on Tuesday, Aug. 26, near Road’s
End in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon
National Park, the cause of death of Victor
Puentes, 48, of Pomona, is still pending.
One of the best-kept secrets
in the San Joaquin Valley is a little
gem — Colonel Allensworth State
Historic Park — located between
Earlimart and Alpaugh, 40 miles north
of Bakersfield in the remote southeastern
corner of Tulare County. Each year, for
one weekend in May, a legion of African
Americans and Allensworth history buffs
congregate at the park to celebrate California’s
only preserved “freedom colony,”
where a group of African American pioneers
founded a town in 1908 to show mainstream
America the potential of what folks of
color could do left to their own devices.
This year, Allensworth will
host that group and the public during
a weekend-long centennial celebration
on October 11 and 12. Dignitaries from
California and across the U.S. will visit
the park this weekend to honor the vision
of Colonel Allen Allensworth, for whom
the town and park are named, and for the
pioneers’ vision of a freer world,
where in 2008, Barack Obama stands on
the threshold of being the first African
American elected as president of these
One woman, Alice C. Royal,
was born January 15, 1923, in her grandparents’
home in Allensworth and will return to
her birthplace this weekend. Alice has
played an instrumental role in making
the park a reality ever since it was founded
Alice Royal will be available
to sign copies of her landmark book published
earlier this centennial year by Heyday
Books entitled: Allensworth, The Freedom
Colony: A California African American
Township. The book underscores the incredible
events that transpired a century ago here
in Tulare County now preserved at the
A public health nurse by
profession, who in her adult years lived
in Alameda, Alice Royal chaired the Allensworth
State Park Advisory Committee from 1985
to 1989, the time when much of the park’s
multi-million dollar restoration was envisioned
and undertaken. Throughout her lifelong
association with Allensworth, she continued
to research and collect histories of former
Allensworth residents, many of whom appear
in the book.
In the book’s forward,
Lonnie G. Bunch, the founding director
of the African American Museum at the
Smithsonian Institution, sets the stage
for understanding the significance of
Allensworth and explains that America
is made that much better by embracing
its African American past. Bunch will
also attend this weekend’s celebration.
“The community of Allensworth became
a beacon of possibility whose influence
and fame transcended the borders of California,”
Bunch wrote. “To individual leaders
like Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois,
Ida Wells Barnett, and Allen Allensworth,
the success of this endeavor would help
Black Americans prove that they were worthy
Try to visualize the time
(1908) in which Allensworth was founded,
when most African Americans were struggling
to overcome racism, poverty, and the limits
created by institutional segregation.
The new book points out that
Colonel Allensworth, who had been born
a slave in Kentucky in 1842, felt the
need to develop a colony for military
families like his own, where Black Americans
could purchase land, build a home, educate
their children, and run their own town
with all the freedom and privileges of
the majority society. Following Col. Allensworth’s
retirement from the military in 1906,
his dream of a colony began to take shape
in 1908 when the town was established
on 240 acres near the Santa Fe railroad
stop called Solita.
Alice Royal writes: “The
thriving years of Allensworth, 1908 to
1918, left footprints deep in the sand
of time, even through the declining years
of the town from the late twenties, and
up through the late 1960s, as the town
experienced pioneer deaths, decreasing
water supplies, leadership moving to more
accommodating areas, and residents moving
for work in the industrial areas during
World War II.”
But out of these days when
Allensworth declined, a dynamic spark
of life came from Ed Pope who lived in
Col. Allensworth’s house from 1938
to 1940. Pope worked for the State Department
of Parks and Recreation and envisioned
the park that became a reality in 1976.
This weekend’s celebration
kicks off today as 250 students visit
Allensworth and experience living history
stations that portray the town at its
peak in 1912 to 1915 when 300 families
called Allensworth home. The “Then
and Now” event is a cooperative
effort between the state and county to
help Tulare County children experience
The Allensworth book may
be purchased online at: www.heydaybooks.com.
The gala weekend includes
a number of speakers and events, including
a 5K fun run and century bicycle ride.
The fun run takes place on Saturday and
the commemorative bike ride is scheduled
for Sunday. Both events start at 7:30
a.m.; participants may register starting
at 6:30 a.m.
The park and visitor center
are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
and has some limited camping. Parking
is $4 per vehicle.
For information or a schedule of events,
call Colonel Allensworth State Historic
Park, (661) 849-3433.
Photo caption: A new bag of dog food in
the trunk of this car proved too much
of a temptation for a hungry bear. The
vehicle was parked in a driveway along
Sierra Drive when it was broken into during
the early morning hours of September 15.
Bears are currently in the vicinity to
fatten up for the winter on the local
acorn crop, but they will not be adverse
to helping themselves to any food or garbage
that Three Rivers residents unwittingly
make available. But once a bear obtains
food from human sources, it becomes a
nuisance and even more brazen in its attempts,
which eventually leads to its demise.
FACING THE MUSIC
Photo caption: Sarah Shena and Ken Elias
(at keyboard) are instrumental in the
success of the annual Concert on the Grass.
The outdoor, afternoon event was started
28 years ago by a former Three Rivers
resident, Harry Ison, at his South Fork
home. After Harry relocated to the Northwest,
Bill Haxton continued the concert, moving
the venue to his Dinely Drive home.
Show the Arts Alliance
The Arts Alliance of Three
Rivers is sponsoring a Halloween pumpkin-carving
contest for Three Rivers residents ages
14 and older. On Saturday, Oct. 25, from
10 a.m. to noon, participants are invited
to drop off their one or two six-inch
to 24-inch carved pumpkins at the Three
Rivers Historical Society.
The pumpkins will be judged
that day at 1 p.m. Categories include
Spookiest, Most Diabolical, and Most Bewitching.
Pumpkin-carvers may choose to donate their
pumpkin to the Arts Alliance to be sold.
All proceeds will benefit the club’s
scholarship fund. Carvers are also welcome
to keep their pumpkins by marking them
“Not for Sale.”
All of the pumpkins will
be on display on Saturday, Oct. 25, from
1 to 3 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 26, through
Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pick up of pumpkins will be Tuesday, Oct.
28, from 2 to 3 p.m.
For more information, call
Marn Reich, 561-6276.
Something for everyone
60th annual Carnival
It’s the longest-running
annual event in Three Rivers — the
Halloween Carnival at Three Rivers School.
On Saturday, Oct. 25, the Carnival will
celebrate its 60th year of raising funds
This year’s Carnival, organized
by the Eagle Booster Club, is currently
in the planning stages and there is much
the community can do to assist in its
success. The Sweet Shoppe, a favorite
stop for all ages, depends on donations
of baked goods. Drop off your home-baked
creations at the booth between 3 and 4
p.m. on the day of the Carnival.
Donations of cakes are also
gratefully accepted, which will be used
in the Cake Walk, another popular Carnival
Pick-a-Prize and the raffle depend on
the donations of various items from local
artwork to complimentary lodging and everything
The Carnival will be held
from 4 to 8 p.m., kicking off with the
students’ costume parade. On the
upper field, there will be game booths
for the kids as well as a bounce house,
sports course, extreme obstacles course
and, tentatively, a climbing wall. Food
and beverages will also be available there.
There will be bands playing
at two locations: on the upper field and
in the McDowall Auditorium. This year’s
lineup includes Tru Harmony, Mankin Creek,
John Castleman and Julie Doctor, and Steamhammer
with more entertainment to be scheduled.
Also in the auditorium will be a sit-down
dinner, prepared by the eighth-grade parents
and students. The entrée is deep-pit
barbecued beef (or a vegetarian alternative)
with ranch-style beans, coleslaw, roll,
drinks, and dessert. The cost is $8 for
adults; $5 for children.
There is no admission charge to attend
the Carnival and it’s open to the
public. All proceeds from the games and
raffles go to Three Rivers School. All
proceeds from the dinner go to the eighth-grade
San Francisco trip fund.
THREE RIVERS ENVIRONMENTAL WEEKEND
Second annual event
globally, acts locally
The idea for a Three Rivers
Environmental Weekend began early in 2007
during a Northwest Earth Institute study
group about global warming, held in Three
Rivers and sponsored by the Unitarian
Universalist Fellowship of Visalia. The
study group ended up including a greater
proportion of non-member local residents
concerned about the environment.
Since then, the group has
been joined by other organizations, groups,
and individuals with similar philosophies
who are dedicated to raising awareness
about climate change and providing solutions
for individuals and as a community.
This year, the event was
held on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4 and
5. Day one included exhibits, multimedia
presentations, demonstrations, and a solar-cooking
Day two consisted of two groups of people
from Three Rivers, Visalia, Tulare, Porterville,
and Squaw Valley who toured a variety
of earth-friendly homes, as well as a
green police station in Visalia. Sharon
Sheltzer, an architect and former Three
Rivers resident, hosted the groups at
the straw-bale police station, the planning
of which she oversaw as an employee of
the City of Visalia’s Redevelopment
The building is located at
Cameron and County Center Drive (behind
Target/Sports Chalet). It includes many
conservation features, including heating,
cooling, lighting, and indoor and outdoor
The of the three homes on
the tour are in Kaweah Oaks Estates, part
of a 30-acre parcel near the Kaweah Oaks
Preserve. Owners of these five-acre parcels
have agreed to a sustainable lifestyle
including organic living.
No pesticides or poisons
are used in this area where many grow
gardens and orchards and raise a few animals
Heather Howard’s incorporated double
adobe brick and a radiant slab floor,
as well as on-demand water-heating and
a solar dryer (clothesline).
John and Daryn Davis’s
home is unsupported straw bale, using
a framework of large trees that had been
killed by fire.
David and Klara East’s
rammed-earth home was built by Pete Crandall
of Three Rivers and includes artistic
metal fastenings at the corner joints
that were created by Three Rivers artist
All three homes are attractive
and functional while using many recycled
materials such as doors and additional
sustainable and energy-efficient options.
John and Chris Sundstrom’s
home in Elderwood was the final stop on
the tour. Built in 1983, it is also on
The Sundstroms used the earth
as insulation. Soil covers the north side
of the home and portions of the east and
west sides. The eaves on the south side
regulate the amount of sun that beams
into the home seasonally, and the embedded
pebble floor serves as a heat sink or
cool thermal mass, depending on the season.
All proceeds from the tour
were donated to the Tulare County Citizens
for Responsible Growth, a group dedicated
to protecting Yokohl Valley from development.
Proceeds from sales of solar
cookers will be used to purchase solar
ovens for refugees in Darfur, which will
serve two purposes. It will save trees
from being sacrificed for firewood while
ensuring that women and children don’t
become victims of violence while gathering
Thai Massage: The
power of touch
This article is published
as part of the Sequoia Mountain Healers
series to promote health and wellness.
Knowledge of the value of
therapeutic touch is far from new. Bodywork,
or use of touch, is mentioned in the ancient
Chinese text The Yellow Emperor’s
Classic of Internal Medicine whose author
died in 2598 B.C.
Bodywork is also mentioned
in ancient Sanskrit texts of India and,
later, in Homer’s Odyssey. Thai
massage has its roots in India and is
known to have been well established by
1600 A.D. in Thailand.
Deane Juhan, the author of Job’s
Body: A Handbook for Bodywork, writes,
“Throughout the history of the development
of their art, bodyworkers have learned
to provide relief for conditions as varied
as muscles that are too loose, muscles
that are too tight, constipation, high
blood pressure, broken bones or sprained
ligaments that are healing, depression,
anxiety, asthma, muscle strain or fatigue,
sluggish lymph flow, poor veinous return,
epilepsy, manipulation of the fetus in
the womb, and headaches... And with advances
in scientific understanding, the list
continues to grow, not decrease.”
Bodywork places major importance
on what is being felt. This is not in
opposition to science, rather it places
bodywork in a position to add important
information to the process of creating
Pain is not simply a neuromuscular event.
There is also the feeling that precedes
it, accompanies it, and follows it as
“Sensations and mental responses
alter our chemistry and our structure
just as frequently as it happens the other
way around,” says Juhan.
The bodyworker is not “fixing”
the client or even generally attacking
a localized problem. The bodyworker generates
and facilitates the flow of sensory information
to the client. “Touching hands are
not like pharmaceuticals or scalpels.
They are like flashlights in a darkened
room. The medicine they administer is
self-awareness. And for many of our painful
conditions, this is the aid that is most
Research has clearly shown
the importance of touch in our lives as
human beings. One of the more famous instances
of this was in 1915 when 90 to 99 percent
of the infants in Baltimore orphanages
were dying within a year of admission.
They were developing a “disease”
called merasmus, a Greek word that means
If they did survive, they
had severe retardation. The research found
that due to lack of staff the infants
were not receiving enough touch.
When extra help was added and the children
were held and played with, those statistics
changed dramatically for the better and
the survivors no longer showed signs of
stunted growth or mental retardation.
As adults, we do not lose
our need for touch but we do not always
receive it in our personal lives. Therapeutic
touch is different from the touch we receive
from family and friends in its precision
and intent. Receiving from someone trained
in bodywork also allows the safety to
surrender into the care of professional
Thai massage, also called
Thai yoga therapy is one form of bodywork
which uses therapeutic touch. It is done
on a comfortable mat on the floor fully
clothed. The session includes rhythmic
palming and thumbing of sen lines or meridians
in the legs, back, and arms with assisted
yoga stretching and relaxation.
As the owner of Valley Yoga,
I provide Thai massage in Three Rivers
and in Visalia. I have completed two nine-day
trainings with Paul Weitz and Phoebe Diftler
at the White Lotus Foundation north of
Santa Barbara and 120 hours of additional
study and practice.
For more information, call
786-6068 or 561-1017 or go online to www.valleyyoga.net.
The University of Southern California
will hold a memorial ceremony for Paul
James Bohannan of Visalia and formerly
of Three Rivers on Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.
The professor, author, and anthropologist
passed away July 13, 2007.
For more information, call (559) 627-2899.