In the News - Friday,
October 16, 2009
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
photos and more in the
16, 2009, print edition...
picnic in the Middle Fork of the
River on the morning of
and power lines down on South Fork
sun peeks through the clouds and
down on the Kaweah's North Fork.
Middle Fork of the Kaweah as seen
the North Fork Drive bridge.
On Monday, Oct. 12, high clouds rolled in and the
temperature plunged. At 7,500 feet in Mineral King
the thermometer never got out of the 40s and snow
loomed in ominous looking dark clouds.
At nightfall there were some scattered snow flurries
in the mountains; the lower elevations were under
overcast skies as the cloud ceiling gradually began
By 8 a.m. Tuesday, a light rain began
to fall in the foothills as the temperatures hovered
around 60 degrees. Above 7,800 feet in Mineral King
and in the Wuksachi Village area of Sequoia National
Park, there was a dusting of snow.
The heaviest rainfall occurred after
midnight. As temperatures warmed into the mid-60s,
the torrential downpours were strangely reminiscent
of the El Nino season of 1997-98.
At sunrise, South Fork Drive motorists
were greeted by a large tree that had fallen across
transmission lines blocking traffic in both directions.
One distracted driver struck part of the large tree
and had to be extricated from its branches. The road
was reopened a couple hours later after repair crews
restored the power and the telephone lines.
The tropical air mass accompanying all
that moisture in the early morning hours of Wednesday
raised snow levels above 9,000 feet. At the Farewell
Gap weather station at 9,600 feet in the upper Mineral
King Valley the peak of the snow accumulation occurred
at 4 p.m. on Tuesday when 7.8 inches was recorded.
In the next 24 hours, the warmer air
melted most of the mountain snow. On Wednesday night,
only a few inches remained on the very highest peaks
above 10,000 feet.
But the storm created lots of excitement
on the Middle Fork of the Kaweah as the river runoff
rushed over its recent banks and cut channels in several
places that have not had water since 2002. That’s
when the last rain flood on November 8 caused a similar
rise. Readings on the Middle Fork near the Chevron
station eclipsed 20,000 cubic feet per second in that
At 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14, Lake
Kaweah was taking in lots of water; a reading of 20,930
cfs was recorded at the Middle Fork gauging station.
By 6 p.m. the storage at Lake Kaweah had reached 22,945
acre feet, nearly four times the pool that was in
the lake one week ago.
“We had to move the boat docks several times
and the marina was under water in several places,”
reported Matt Murphy, Lake Kaweah park ranger, “but
there really wasn’t any damage.”
In Three Rivers, the storm dumped between
two and three inches of precipitation, depending on
the location of the rain gauge. The NOAA weather station
at the Three Rivers Historical Museum recorded 2.44
inches of precipitation; the Tulare County Fire Station
on South Fork Drive checked in with 2.05 inches.
So where did all that water in the river
come from? The obvious answer is nearby Sequoia National
Park. Ash Mountain received 3.74 inches of rainfall
while Lodgepole at 6,700 feet received eight inches
of rainfall. It typically takes --- hours for that
water to flow down to the Three Rivers environs.
The best thing about all the water that
came down the Kaweah River was that the channel got
an initial scouring that will help convey even more
water during the next big weather event. Stay tuned.
Missing backpackers found
Invariably, the first major storm of
the season catches a few backpackers trying to get
in one more trip before snow in the higher mountain
passes abruptly ends the hiking season. The storm
that began in the local mountains on Tuesday hampered
efforts to find three male backpackers who were reported
overdue on Monday evening, Oct. 12.
Brothers Jordan Zeman, 25, and Jake Zeman,
23, along with Lanier Rogers, 25, all from Southern
California, started their ambitious 65-mile itinerary
on Wednesday, Oct. 7, from Road’s End in the
Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. They
did not return Monday as planned so a search was initiated
Tuesday by park rangers.
On Thursday, Oct. 15, after the stormy
weather and cloudy skies had cleared, a trio matching
the description of the lost backpackers was located
ledged out within a mile of Cedar Grove near Roaring
“The river (South Fork of the Kings) was so
high during the recent storm that the tourist trail
to the falls had to be closed,” reported Adrienne
Freeman, parks public affairs officer.
Adrienne said the terrain was steep and
extremely dangerous where the hikers were located.
By mid-day park rangers were mobilizing in Cedar Grove
and trying to decide whether to short-haul via helicopter
or rope climb to reach the rocky perch.
Apparently, the men had detoured from
the Avalanche Pass trail and tried to follow a shorter
route off-trail via the treacherous Roaring River
A retired park ranger who lives in Three
Rivers recalled a number of rescues (and recoveries)
in the same area. He said a fortunate thing about
this one is that the three men are together.
NPS rangers remind all persons hiking
in the higher elevations that weather in the mountains
is extremely volatile. Backpackers and campers should
be prepared for winter conditions no matter what the
season and stay advised of local weather forecasts.
TRUS board ponders Yokohl,
By Brian Rothhammer
Board members Bob Burke, Kristina Roper
Graber, Scott Sherwood, Valerie Abanathie and Superintendent/Principal
Sue Sherwood met at the Three Rivers Union School
library for their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday,
Among the items discussed was the present
and future impact of the proposed Yokohl Valley development
relative to the TRUS district. Superintendent Sherwood
indicated that the special board meeting held last
week in Exeter on the matter was “...informational
in regards to Exeter,” but not very specific
pertaining to Three Rivers.
“It will be at least 15 to 20 years before they
get into the section that will be ours,” said
Sue of the proposed Yokohl subdivisions, and that
she was “sure there will be a push for redistricting
by then. Nobody is signing agreements while it is
still in the planning phase.”
Scott agreed, adding that the Yokohl
development “...will be in phase three before
it impacts us.” The board agreed that the district
should stay informed on the project as it progresses.
There has been an issue with water quality
at TRUS, and bottled drinking water has been used
to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and students.
Three Rivers Community Services District general manager
Randy Pares corrected the problem after inspecting
the well and tanks.
As it turned out, a slight opening at
the edge of a screen allowed access to a small furry
critter who was promptly invited to leave.
“I am so glad we found this,” said Pares.
“It was an easy problem to correct.”
The 2009-2010 literature list was approved
and includes such classics as Green Eggs and Ham by
Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) and Of Mice and Men by John
Steinbeck, along with several contemporary titles.
Most of the books used in TRUS classrooms are also
on the California Department of Education’s
Robert “Rob” Ojeda was unanimously
approved as the newly hired seventh grade teacher,
replacing Manuel Garcia, who taught at the school
for the past four years. There are currently 157 students
enrolled at TRUS.
Proposed field trips were approved including
an innovative program entitled “Civil War Time
Travelers.” The fifth-grade exercise involves
a field trip to Kearney Park in Fresno for what is
billed as the largest Civil War re-enactment and living
history exhibit in the United States, and culminates
with a student-produced eight-page Civil War newspaper.
A presentation will be given at McDowall
Auditorium today (Friday, Oct. 16) at TRUS from 2
to 3 p.m. by Julie Bergman, past president of the
Central Asia Institute (CAI), who will discuss conditions
at the schools run by CAI in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
She will also share insights of the bestselling children’s
book Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey
to Change the World… One Child at a Time
by Greg Mortenson.
The TRUS student council has a positive
use for all of those annoying one-cent pieces that
tend to accumulate – Pennies for Peace! Rather
than just tossing cents aside, students will have
jars in classrooms through Monday, Nov. 9, to collect
pennies for the CAI schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pennies from the community are also welcome and at
least one local business has pledged to make a donation.
Severe weather correlates
Nobel Peace Prize
A team of State College, Penn., meteorologists
uncovered an interesting weather correlation after
the recent announcement that President Barack Obama
was the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Obama
was the third sitting president and the fourth overall
to win the award.
What was interesting to the weather scientists
was that severe winter weather followed each of the
three presidents being awarded the peace prize. Now
the question is being raised if this year will follow
the historic trend.
Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906
during his term as president. The winter of 1906-07
brought a severe Nor’easter that blanketed the
eastern seaboard with 10 inches of snow from Washington
to Boston. Some historians liken the event to the
Woodrow Wilson won the award in 1919
while in office. The following winter produced several
severe storms including a late January storm that
will always be remembered for its ice, sleet, and
Another storm followed in February that
dumped deep snow from Maine to Virginia. It has been
called one of the most severe winters ever experienced.
In 2002, Jimmy Carter won the peace prize
and the northeast was again besieged by record-breaking
snowfall in that winter. Boston recorded 23.6 inches
of snow on February 17 alone.
Preliminary forecasts for 2009-10 are
predicting a cold and snowy winter for the Northeast
and an El Nino for California. It’s a curious
Jessy Tuttle, an eighth-grader at Three
Rivers School, is the Grand Prize winner of the Halloween
Carnival poster contest. Each year, students in every
TRUS class from kindergarten through eighth grade
are invited to participate in the contest. First,
second, and third place and honorable mention awards
are presented in each class as well as one grand-prize
winner. The posters are distributed to businesses
throughout town to advertise the Carnival. Students
receive free game tickets as prizes.
Assembly Bill 1438— A
study released last month by the UCLA Center for Health
Policy Research found that residents of Tulare, Fresno,
Kings, and Madera counties drink more soda —
and are also fatter — than other Californians.
More than a third of Valley adults drink soda daily
and up to two-thirds are obese.
These disturbing trends might show signs
of reversal as a result of legislation by Assembly
woman Connie Conway (R-34th District) signed by Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger this week. As a result of Assembly
Bill 1438, the grant cap of the federally funded Safe
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will be increased,
which ensures that disadvantaged communities receive
more water infrastructure projects and upgrades.
Within the central San Joaquin Valley
counties included in the UCLA research on soda consumption
and obesity are a greater proportion of economically-disadvantaged
communities. And without access to clean drinking
water, another selection must be made when adults
or their children are thirsty.
That’s where the sugary sodas fill
a niche. They are readily available and inexpensive,
especially when compared with bottled water or fruit
Certainly, consumer education is key
to reduce consumption as well as the dire health consequences
that come with being obese, but having clean, safe
water with the turn of a tap should not be taken for
granted or underestimated.
Groundwater is a key drinking water source
in the San Joaquin Valley, providing about 90 percent
of all drinking water supplies. Grants are awarded
to low-income communities that cannot otherwise maintain
affordable rates to improve safe drinking water infrastructure,
and as a result of AB 1438, the grant cap was raised
from $1 million to $3 million and up to $10 million
in defined hardship cases.
“Anything we can do to capitalize on existing
resources to promote public health and access to water
is a victory for all,” said Assemblywoman Conway.
Assembly Bill 1025— Also
signed into law last week by Governor Schwarzenegger
is Conway legislation that is aimed at keeping sex
offenders and drug dealers off school campuses. The
new law, which will take effect July 1, 2010, brings
added security to school campuses by closing a loophole
in current law that allows volunteer coaches to work
with children without any kind of background check.
As of next year, volunteer coaches, whether hired
by a school district, booster clubs, or school-related
recreation boards will have to go through the same
type of background checks that teachers do before
they can work with children.
More new laws— Governor
Schwarzenegger called on lawmakers to overhaul California’s
tax system, which he called “outdated and antiquated,
and no longer works in our technology and information-based
economy.” In addition, he signed a bevy of bills
into law on Monday, Oct. 12:
—May 22 was proclaimed Harvey Milk Day, recognizing
the San Francisco city supervisor and gay rights activist
who was slain in 1978. Milk was posthumously awarded
with the Presidential Medal of Freedom recently and
his life was the subject of an Academy Award-winning
film last year.
—Ammunitions sellers are required to collect
and keep information from all buyers, including a
thumbprint, signature, and driver’s license
data. All sales must be in person, thus eliminating
Internet and mail-order transactions.
—The Donda West Law, named after the mother
of rap artist Kanye West, who died from complications
after she underwent cosmetic surgery, prohibits elective
cosmetic surgery unless the patient first is cleared
by a physical examination.
—Paparazzi and other photographers can be fined
up to $50,000 for taking and selling unauthorized
photos of celebrities and others or their children
while participating in “personal or familial
—Same-sex marriages performed in other states
before California’s November 2008 ban on gay
marriage will be recognized in the state.
—Political candidates are prohibited from paying
their spouses or domestic partners to work on their
10 household products to avoid
— PART ONE —
If these products are lurking in your home, they can
be threatening your health. They can penetrate the
lungs, cause asthma and allergies, poison the liver,
damage the heart, and irritate the eyes and skin.
So grab a trash can and rid the house of these:
1. High fructose corn syrup. HFCS is
a type of sugar that has been processed and combined
with corn syrup to produce a cheap, easily dissolvable
sweetener. But this sugar is quickly absorbed by the
liver where it is converted into fat. Since your brain
doesn’t recognize HFCS as a regular food, it
never shuts off the appetite center, so you keep eating.
Blood sugar levels rise, massive amounts of insulin
are recruited to metabolize it, and then you crash
and feel hungry again. It is found in soft drinks,
fruit juices, salad dressings, baked goods, and more.
Read the food labels of products in your pantry and
refrigerator and throw out all products that contain
2. Chlorine bleach. Household bleach
contains the chemical sodium hypochlorite and is used
to whiten clothes and kill germs like mold, bacteria,
and viruses. It’s not good for the environment
and not good for you; it evaporates quickly to irritate
your nose, eyes, throat, skin, and lungs. Non-toxic
alternatives are baking soda, white vinegar, or alcohol
and peroxide-based products.
3. Insecticides. Mosquitoes can be annoying
and carry diseases. But keeping them at bay doesn’t
mean you need to drench you and your property in carcinogenic
pesticides. Instead use a natural repellent that contains
essential oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, and lavender.
Burning citronella candles outdoors, staying indoors
at high biting times, and removing still water where
mosquitoes lay eggs are healthier strategies.
4. Hard alcohol. Not all alcoholic beverages
are alike, Beer, wine, and spirits, also referred
to as hard alcohol, can be damaging when drunk in
excess; they can damage the liver (cirrhosis), cause
esophageal cancer, internal bleeding, heart failure,
pancreatitis, and gastritis. And some breast cancers
can be fueled by alcohol. Although one glass of red
wine a day can offer health benefits, spirits have
a higher alcohol content and contain more synthetic
chemicals and sugars.
5. Moth balls. For generations, it has
been customary to sprinkle a few mothballs made of
naphthalene in a box of sweaters to prevent moths
from feasting on the fibers. Today, a better choice
is to use natural alternatives such as cedar chips
and lavender sachets. At the end of the season, remember
to clean clothes first, then zip them up.
Next week: Numbers
6 through 10.
Elaine Melton Knopf
1931 ~ 2009
Elaine Melton Knopf of Visalia died Friday,
Oct. 9, 2009. She was 78.
Elaine was born July 30, 1931, in Walport,
Ore., to William and Irene Coolbaugh. The family moved
to the Cuddy Valley of Frazier Park where she was
raised and educated.
She met Tom Melton in Bakersfield, where
they were married. Tom was employed with offshore
oil companies, so the couple lived overseas for many
years. In 1975, Elaine and Tom settled in Three Rivers
with their children.
The couple was married for 34 years when
Tom died in 1988. Following his death, Elaine moved
She later met and married Don Knopf.
They were together for two years until his death.
Elaine loved to play bridge and bunko,
read, scrapbook, and travel but her greatest love
was being with her grandchildren. For the past six
years, she enjoyed traveling with her companion, Robert
In addition to her two husbands, Elaine
was preceded in death by her sister, Beverly Coolbaugh
She is survived by her four children,
sons Brad Melton and wife Valerie of Woodlake, Thomas
Melton and wife Julie of Georgia, and Gregg Melton
and wife Alison of Visalia; daughter Luonia Rix and
husband Lee of Nevada; and her eight grandchildren,
Mat Curtis (30), Jake Curtis (25), T.J. Melton (25),
Alex Melton (23), Jonathan Melton (19), Lindsey Rix
(18), Devin Melton (14), and Abigail Melton (5).
Per Elaine’s wishes, no service
will be held. On Sunday, Oct. 11, the family held
a barbecue to celebrate her life at the Visalia home
of Gregg and Alison Melton.
1924 ~ 2009
Arlyss Stump, a former resident of Three
Rivers, died in McKinney, Texas, on Saturday, Sept.
19, 2009. She had just turned 85.
Arlyss was born in Granville, N.D., on Sept. 11, 1924,
to Nellie May and Myron Allen, the third of four children.
She was raised on a grain farm in North Dakota and
graduated from Minot (N.D.) State Teachers College.
During World War II, she worked for The
Boeing Company in Seattle, Wash. In 1946, she moved
to Visalia to begin her teaching career.
While in Visalia, she met William Sherman Stump. They
were married in 1947.
When their son was born in 1951, Arlyss
took a break from her teaching career to raise him.
But she returned to full-time teaching after completing
her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State University
and, in 1979, a master’s degree from the University
of San Francisco where her focus was on the development
of reading skills in young students.
In 1980, Arlyss co-authored a book entitled
Your Child Can Read Better. Her teaching career in
the Visalia Unified School District took her to numerous
elementary schools and culminated with her being awarded
with the 1992 Teacher of the Year award. She retired
Arlyss was a longtime member of First
Presbyterian Church in
Visalia. While in Three Rivers, she was a member of
Community Presbyterian Church.
She was an active member of the Theta
Tau Theta Sorority, the California Retired Teachers
Association, and the Philanthropic Educational Organization.
Arlyss was preceded in death by her husband
of 57 years, Bill.
She is survived by her son Brian Stump and wife Ann
of McKinney, Texas; grandson Kevin William and wife
Alisha with great-grandson Sawyer William of Plano,
Texas; granddaughter Julia Morrison and husband David
with great-granddaughter, Ava Claire of Richardson,
In lieu of flowers, the family requests
remembrances be made to one of two memorial funds:
First Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund, 215 N. Locust,
Visalia, CA 93291; or The PEO Scholarship Fund, c/o
Ann Petersen, 306 N. Canby, Tulare, CA 93274.