In the News - Friday, October 12, 2012
President Obama dedicates Cesar Chavez home
On a day that will live forever in this nation’s struggle for civil rights, President Barack Obama on Monday, Oct. 8, dedicated the former home of Cesar Chavez as a national monument. Nuestra Senora Reina de La Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), the 187-acre community commonly called “La Paz” by the Chavez family and all who have lived and worked here since 1971, is the 398th unit to be administered by the National Park Service.
Chavez, who was born in Arizona in 1927, but launched the United Farm Workers in California’s Central Valley, lived, worked and is buried at the site of the new monument in Keene, a rural community on State Highway 58 in the foothills just west of Tehachapi.
The President’s remarks followed five other Latino leaders — all who played a role in preserving the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument so more might come to Keene and experience the legacy of Cesar Chavez. Chavez was an iconic labor leader who dedicated his life to helping migrant farmworkers achieve higher wages and better working conditions.
Many thousands lined up in the chilly predawn hours Monday in an attempt to be admitted to the historic celebration. The shaded courtyard of the former Chavez Center could only accommodate a limited number of celebrants, staff, and media. The crowd was estimated to be 6,600.
At least 2,000 hopeful attendees had to be turned away from the staging area in Tehachapi where NPS personnel from all the California parks worked with local law enforcement and event volunteers to marshal the huge turnout onto a procession of buses.
Those who were shuttled into La Paz were treated to a celebration of a movement and the coming of age of the Latino people. Following a succession of folkloric groups who performed while the audience was being ushered in was the program’s first speaker, Antonio Villaraigosa, the current mayor of Los Angeles.
It was the former campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton, and now a key supporter in the Obama reelection campaign, who welcomed the audience to the festivities.
Villaraigosa said he wouldn’t be here today nor would he have have been elected as the first Latino mayor of Los Angles had it not been for the sacrifice of Cesar Chavez.
“Chavez taught America the promise of freedom is not always for the powerful but also for the powerless,” Villaraigosa told the audience. “Freedom is not just for those who own the fields but for the people that work in the fields.”
Next up was Hilda Solis, the former California court justice who Obama appointed as his Secretary of Labor, the first Latina ever appointed to a cabinet post.
Solis cited several things she learned as a first-term California assemblywoman in 1993 after hearing that Cesar Chavez had died at the age of 66.
It was Cesar who taught us all that work is more than income, but also a source of dignity, she said.
“Cesar was one of the first environmentalists, and it is because of him that we learned that once social justice begins it cannot be reversed,” Solis said. “We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”
Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, thanked all who made the monument designation possible. He pointed out in particular the 18th director of the NPS, Jonathon Jarvis, who was in attendance, and cited the work of the National Parks Conservation Association’s board members, several of whom were seated in the VIP section.
Salazar announced that Ruben Andrade, a native of California, has been named acting superintendent of the new monument. Andrade, currently superintendent of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota, is the son of farm laborers and worked in the fields himself during school breaks.
“We [the NPS] now tell the story of America in a more inclusive way through the life of Cesar Chavez,” Salazar said.
Arturo Rodriguez, the current president of the UFW, expressed how grateful he was that farm workers from 25 states, many whom traveled all night, could be in attendance and a part of the monument dedication.
Paul Chavez, Cesar’s son who has worked tirelessly to promote the Chavez Foundation and upgrade the facilities at La Paz, was given the honor of introducing President Obama.
Obama, following his traditional sprint to the podium, opened his remarks with a chorus of rousing “Si se puede”– the UFW slogan that means “Yes we can.” The president then acknowledged the hospitality of the Chavez family and, in particular, Helen Chavez (wife of Cesar) who still lives on-site. Obama told her jokingly, “You can tell us to leave anytime you like.”
But the substance of Obama’s speech was paying tribute to Cesar Chavez, a heroic organizer who greatly influenced the president’s own career.
“By the time he had reached the seventh grade he had attended 65 schools…” Obama recounted as testimony to a life of following the crop cycles and sleeping in tents alongside fields where workers toiled in the hot sun to put food on the table of every home in America.
“Today, La Paz joins a long line of national monuments that tell us who we are as the American people,” he continued. “Cesar Chavez National Monument is not the monument to one man… but the legacy of a generation of organizers.”
We are all drawn by the idea, Obama continued, “that no matter who you are or what you do, America is the place you can make it if you try.”
President Obama also pointed out in the crowd who he called the “great” Dolores Huerta. Dolores was with Cesar from the beginning of the movement and was one of the founders of the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which was the predecessor of the United Farm Workers of America. Speaking from her own offices of the Huerta Foundation in Bakersfield she had this to say of the monument designation and President Obama’s visit:
“It’s a really big deal with the Park Service doing this and President Obama coming to visit Cesar’s humble home,” she said. “A lot of the work that Cesar did he did at La Paz, and we now recognize that poor people are important and have the power to make significant changes… and it all started right here in Central California.”
Town meeting featured Assembly candidates
Those who attended the October 1 town meeting at the Three Rivers Memorial Building received plenty of electioneering to better inform local voters. As a part of the evening’s agenda, moderator Lee Goldstein introduced the two candidates for the newly drawn 23rd District of the California Assembly.
Vying for the vacancy that will be decided in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, election are two veteran Fresno area politicos, Jim Patterson and Bob Whalen. The two former mayors of Fresno and Clovis, respectively, are both Republicans; the fact that the two candidates represent the same party was determined by their being the top finishers under the new laws of the most recent California primary.
Two members of the same party will square off in nearly two dozen legislative or congressional elections this November. This method was created by California’s new top-two primary system, in which voters could cast ballots for candidates of any party and the two highest vote-getters advance to the general election.
Both Assembly candidates are Fresno State graduates and agree on being fiscal conservatives foremost in these trying times. Patterson spoke first and told the gathering that in addition to his civic service background he is in the broadcast media industry and currently owns KMJ-580am, a conservative talk radio station.
His frequent role as an on-the-air personality, Patterson said, has afforded lots of time to explore the solutions as to what’s needed to get California back on track. His vision, he explained, is eight principles based on job creation, working across the aisle in Sacramento, balancing the budget, reducing government, improving education, reforming pensions, more water storage for the Valley, and keeping neighborhoods safe.
Whalen explained his priority was to stop the irresponsible spending in Sacramento. He said when he was mayor of Clovis, he kept that city in the black and even today, through responsible cuts, the city remains in good financial shape.
Whalen also says his background as a lawyer and prosecutor would assure that he would fight for justice and be tough on crime. He also points out in his campaign literature he has promised that he would support “no tax hikes period.”
In the question-and-answer portion of the forum both candidates expressed their opposition to California’s high-speed rail.
“I’m going to fight it as just another case of reckless decision-making,” Patterson said.
The next Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Monday Nov. 5, on the eve of the general election.
Measure I Oversight Committee seeks applicants
The Three Rivers School board of trustees is accepting applications for members on the Measure I Oversight Committee. The Community Oversight Committee will review revenues and expenditures related to Measure I.
The Oversight Committee will be composed of 11 members who are Three Rivers property owners. The TRUS board will select members with a goal of having a wide representation of the community within the group.
Selection will be based on several categories of members: senior citizen, business owner, parent, community member at large, one certificated staff member, one classified staff member, one Three Rivers School board member and the administrator. The school board member and administrator will serve in an advisory, non-voting capacity.
The committee will meet twice a year, with additional meetings as deemed necessary. Those interested in serving on the Community Oversight Committee are asked to submit a paragraph to the board by Friday, Oct. 26, stating why they are interested in participating on the committee. Also include name, address, phone number, email address, and the category for which you are applying.
Applications may be delivered to the Three Rivers School office or mailed to Three Rivers School, P.O. Box 99, Three Rivers, CA 93271. The committee will be selected and presented at the Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, TRUS board of trustees meeting.
WHS athletic field upgrade ‘ahead of schedule’
By Holly Gallo
While the construction on the Woodlake High School football field and stadium is “ahead of schedule,” according to Lisa Castillo, principal, the day of completion has not yet been estimated.
As a result, the high school soccer team may face the same fate as the football team, which has continued to play only away games. In an effort to show solidarity and Tiger pride, the school will be providing rooter buses to the next three games. Tickets will cost $5 per person in order to help cover the cost of transportation.
At tonight’s (October 12) Corcoran game and the November 2 Granite Hills (Porterville) game, which will be played at Lindsay High School, Woodlake’s band and newly resurrected cheer squad will be providing halftime performances.
Woodlake varsity volleyball has continued to perform to the highest degree. The Lady Tigers beat Strathmore in their first league game on October 1, as well as Exeter the week before. Coach Tori Johnson said that the top players were KiAnna Cunningham, Regina Ramirez, and Melissa Samaniego.
On October 3, the volleyball team beat Corcoran in three games. The best performing players were KiAnna Cunningham with 14 kills, Brenda Acosta with 6 aces, and Courtney Hanggi with 4 kills. As of October 5, the team was 2-0 in league
TRUS: A MEMOIR
Class of ’73: Remembering Bill
By Jay O’Connell
Inspired by the Three Rivers Union School Reunion that was held Saturday, Oct. 6, Jay O’Connell has written a series on his memories of TRUS.
Of all my years in grade school, it was only in sixth grade that I remember gaining any appreciation of literature. Bill would read aloud to us every day after lunch.
At first it seemed a tad juvenile a practice for sixth graders, but quickly became a favorite part of the day. To this day, I well remember some of the books and authors Bill exposed us to: Twain’s American classic Tom Sawyer; Fresno literary giant William Saroyan’s coming of age novel The Human Comedy; and the hippie-appreciated first book of J.R.R.Tolkein’s trilogy The Fellowship of the Ring. (I later finished the series on my own.)
Sadly, we were the only class that had Bill as a teacher for a full year at TRUS. I believe he left (or was asked to leave; I really don’t know how it went down) by midway the following year. I imagine many in the community were relieved that Bill was gone.
I am just glad I was there for his one full year at TRUS. I learned a lot. Admittedly, I didn’t learn some basic sixth-grade stuff like, for instance, fractions. (This was much to the chagrin of Mr. Hicks the following year). But one can always catch up on their fractions. (Again, much to the chagrin of Mr. Hicks).
I did learn about writing, and environmental science, and macramé, and Ecuador, and literature, and candle-making, and smoke bombs, and Woody Guthrie, and the responsibility of freedom, and the fear and misunderstanding of new ideas, and the thrill and inspiration of new ideas.
And I’m thankful I was able to tell Bill that decades later. I can’t remember when it was exactly. Sometime in the mid to late 1990s.
It was at the TRUS Halloween Carnival, and we started chatting by the bonfire. We talked for a good long while, and I told him how much I learned that year. And what a positive influence he was on me.
I had to admit that some of the things I learned were from observing all that went wrong that year. Bill admitted he learned a lot that year too. Youthful enthusiasm and a desire to change the world contributed to some mistakes, he admitted. I marveled at how incredibly young he must have been back then, as we seemed so similar in age that night. Incredibly young, he reiterated. That was the last time I saw Bill before he passed away. He died way too young.
Bill Chivers continued his career as an educator after his rocky start at TRUS. I know he was involved in Outward Bound programs and continued teaching grade school down in the Valley.
His passion for teaching and his intelligence undoubtedly contributed to many successes in his subsequent teaching career. I also know, firsthand, that he was by any standard successful in that one remarkable year at TRUS. Thank you, Bill.
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. He was raised in Visalia and Lemon Cove, graduating from Exeter High School in 1961 and receiving his teaching credential from San Francisco State University. After leaving TRUS, he taught at Lindsay Unified School District for 25 years. At the time of his death, Bill had been a resident of Three Rivers for nearly 30 years.
1939 ~ 2012
Judson L. Beedle, a resident of Three Rivers for nearly 40 years, died Tuesday, Oct. 2, with his family at his side after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Oct. 14, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.
Jud was born July 15, 1939, in the small town of Clarks, Neb.
Just as World War II was starting, he relocated with his family to the city of Paramount in Southern California. While at Paramount High School, he excelled in football and was a member of the Schooners car club, where he made many lifelong friends.
After graduating high school, Jud joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served honorably. After the service, he went to work in the aerospace industry. He later worked in pipeline and concrete construction.
Jud married the former Karen Haugland and they had two children. In 1973, Jud moved to Three Rivers.
He loved watching football, especially when his son and grandsons were playing. He enjoyed visiting with friends as he made his rounds through town.
He kept a year-round garden and was generous with his harvests. His great loves in life were his children and grandsons, the Schooners, the Marines, football, his garden, and Three Rivers.
Jud is survived by his son, Eric Beedle, and wife Lisa of Three Rivers; daughter Kirsten Beedle and Bill Craig of San Diego; and grandsons Curtis Beedle, Kyle Beedle, and Carson Beedle.
Remembrances in Jud’s name may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org).
Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.evansmillerguinnchapel.com.