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In the News - Friday, October 10, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


New bridge planned

for Cherokee Oaks

  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.
   MEASURE R— 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 subdivision.
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 big improvement.”
   FIRE SEASON— 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 said.
   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 devastating blaze.

  “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.”
   DISASTER PREPAREDNESS— 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 911 system.

  “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 you.”
   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 containers.

Motorcyclist dies

after Sequoia accident

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, was 65.
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.

Book celebrates

Allensworth centennial

   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 United States.
   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 in 1976.
   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 park.
   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 of equality.”
   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 park.
   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.


  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

your best jack-o-lantern

   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

at 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 for TRUS.
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 attraction.
Pick-a-Prize and the raffle depend on the donations of various items from local artwork to complimentary lodging and everything in between.
   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.


Second annual event

thinks 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 demonstration.
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 Agency.
   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 water.
   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 for food.
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 Mike Perez.
   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 five acres.
   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 wood.


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 health.
Pain is not simply a neuromuscular event. There is also the feeling that precedes it, accompanies it, and follows it as a consequence.

  “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 urgently needed.”
   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 “wasting away.”
   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 hands.
   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.

Memorial Service:
Paul Bohannan
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.


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 2003-2008 The Kaweah Commonwealth