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In the News - Friday, October 17, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Vandalism, assault

at local motel

   Imagine this scary scenario. Your family takes a dream vacation to America, traveling halfway around the world, and after arriving in Three Rivers, check into the Western Holiday Lodge.
   At 2 a.m., your party of four is soundly sleeping and then crash! There’s a loud thud against the door, and the next thing you know everything is blurry as you reel from a blow to the face.
   That’s what happened to Janne Kaartokallio in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 15, in room 51 at the local lodge located at 40105 Sierra Drive. Kaartokallio was in Three Rivers with his family specifically to visit Sequoia National Park.
   After being struck by what appeared to be pipe or similar metal object, he told a Sheriff’s deputy that the assailant fled on foot. That’s when, Kaartokallio, a 39-year-old Finnish national, called 911 for help.
   Hotel phone records revealed that the emergency call was made at 2:12 a.m. A Sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene just after 3 a.m. to take the victim’s statement.
   The deputy’s report stated that in addition to the occupied room, five other room doors were kicked in, but nothing was stolen from the tourists or any of the hotel rooms. Several guests reported hearing some commotion in the property’s east wing but did not investigate after the noise stopped.
   An employee of the lodge, Nesi Mesman, said there were some conspicuous circumstances about the wanton vandalism. The perpetrator may have been surprised when he tried kicking in the door of Room 51 and, after striking Kaartokallio, he left the scene in a hurry.

  “The guy who did this knew exactly what he was doing,” Nesi said. “He kicked in the door of rooms that are usually not occupied because they are in an area where there is less light and more remote than the rest of the rooms on the property.”
   Nesi, who works as a desk clerk, said that the vandalism might have been aimed at the owners of the property by a former disgruntled employee.
   According to Aysha Hossain, who with her husband, Jay Hossain, has operated the lodging property for the past three years, the victim did furnish the deputy with a description of his attacker. But Mrs. Hossain said the deputy didn’t reveal to the owners the description of the suspect nor did they ask if they had any trouble recently with an employee.
   The official word from headquarters: “This case is currently under investigation by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.”
   The damage to the six rooms was estimated at $400. Anyone with a possible lead or information in the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 733-6211.

Cash stolen from 3R businesses

   Deputy Jim Fansett said when he was summoned on Monday, Oct. 13, to investigate thefts at two stores located in the Village shopping complex, there wasn’t much in the way of physical evidence. What he did have was a report of missing cash from the drawers of each of the businesses; Three Rivers Drug reported $300 missing while The Thingerie noticed that $50 had been removed from its till.
   There were no signs of forced entry, and it appeared that the thief had used a key to the drugstore to get in and knew right where to look for a spare key to The Thingerie. Deputy Fansett said he dusted for prints but that the ones he was looking for might have been compromised when employees opened Monday morning.
   The drug store alarm was disabled, but no drugs were stolen. Some of the more valuable items like jewelry displayed at The Thingerie thrift shop were also untouched.
   The cash thefts occurred sometime during the weekend after The Thingerie closed Saturday. Deputy Fansett said he would appreciate some help in the case if anyone noticed something suspicious in the area during last weekend. Anybody with crime-related information is asked to call the Sheriff’s dispatch, day or night, at 733-6211.

Lost hunter found after two nights

   Last weekend was the first cold snap of the season. Definitely not the best time to get lost in the Sierra.
   But that’s what happened to Salvador Sanchez, 27, of Orosi when he became separated from his three-person party Saturday afternoon.
Sanchez was last seen about 5 p.m. Saturday near the trailhead to Deer Meadow as he and another man scouted hunting locations. He was reported missing at about 10:30 that night.
   This locale is at 8,200 feet and toward the end of the Big Meadows Road in Giant Sequoia National Monument. The temperature dropped to about 15 degrees that night.
   Although the disappearance was reported to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, the search area was determined to be in Fresno County. Deputies searched the area Sunday and by Monday, there were 40 searchers in the area.
   By Monday afternoon, Sanchez reportedly found the ranger station in Cedar Grove. That most likely means he discovered either the Don Cecil or Agnew Grove trails, which descend 3,500 feet in elevation into the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park.
Sanchez was reported to be cold and tired, but was otherwise in good health.

Music fest to score a big hit

   The talented music lineup, catered dinner, an advance ticket sale approaching 500, and an outstanding venue has Glenn McIntyre thinking that this time he’s really got something for everyone. That’s been his goal along, he said, to present a crowd-pleaser of a fall event that’s a great night out.
   But Glenn admits there have been some ups and downs in the last decade while the Three Rivers Lions Club has searched to find just the right event for just the right October night.
   In the 1990s, one Lions club member and then another tried interpretations of Oktoberfest. The oompah-pah music was fun for some but all the parties suffered from too much fun for adults, but only limited appeal for families with kids.
   That’s when Lion Glenn McIntyre, owner and operator of the Gateway Restaurant and Lodge, came on the scene six years ago. He was convinced that an October event with good music, good food, and good company could succeed.
   McIntyre called his event the All Town Dinner Dance, and for several years running, the latest Lions October party was successful.

  “Some folks who attended those All Town Dinner Dances told me they hadn’t danced or enjoyed a night out like that in years,” Glenn said. “For a number of locals it was their favorite night of the year.”
   That’s really saying something considering that Three Rivers has a long tradition of some really big celebrations that includes more than 50 years of Team Roping, 35 Jazzaffairs, and some incomparable Redbud Festivals staged at Ard Farkles three decades ago that some Three Rivers folks remember fondly to this day.
   For whatever reason, though, some of the luster of the All Town Dinner Dance was lost so Glenn decided to take this October event up a notch. It’s been a lot of work, he said, but he’s really excited about the new and improved Fall Music Festival and Dinner Dance.

  “This Saturday’s festival is an evolution of everything that worked so well at the All Town Dinner Dance,” said Glenn. “But we [the Lions] also wanted to broaden the appeal to include visitors and folks down the hill who might enjoy a night out in Three Rivers.”
   As the word gets out about the great venue in Three Rivers, Glenn said, he expects a growing legion of out-of-area visitors to come annually just to enjoy the music festival. He has hopes that the fall festival will eventually attract numbers like the more than 1,000 fans that come in April for Jazzaffair.
   Like Jazzaffair, there’s some traditional jazz with a western flavor, but this festival is also about rock, rhythm and blues, and some soulful music featuring the classic tunes that still get the Baby Boomers, and now their kids, up and out on the dance floor. For a higher energy change of pace, Wadaba’s serious African drum jam will give the audience a taste of authentic roots music.
   The musical extravaganza concludes with an all-star jam (9 to 11 p.m.) when the best players and some special guests will back headliner J.J. Jackson to put a memorable exclamation point on this October fest.
   One of those special guests is Rosemarie Leong, direct from Las Vegas. Leong formerly sang backup with Motley Crue, and to hear Glenn tell it, her show alone is worth the price of a ticket.

Cold snap

   The first significant cold front of the season had temperatures plunging into the teens at night in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park and even dropped some flakes of snow.

Live music at Fall Carnival

   Everybody young and old looks forward to the annual Carnival at Three Rivers School. Planned this year for Saturday, Oct. 25, from 4 to 8 p.m., the Carnival offers something for everyone at very affordable prices, and it’s all for a good cause as 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to Three Rivers School.
   Raffle prizes so far include an iPod Touch (donated by Citrus Industries), a $150 shopping spree at Visalia Mall, a cordless saw and drill set (donated by Speedy Gonzalez Construction), Disneyland tickets, Dodgers tickets, Kaweah Marina boat rental, and more.

The music lineup includes:
In the gym—
5-5:30 pm– TRU Harmony
5:30-6:30 pm– Mankin Creek
6:30-7:30 pm– John Castleman

On the upper field—
5-6 pm– Circus of Insanity
6-7 pm– Kaweah Drum Circle
7-8 pm– Steamhammer

   The Carnival is a community affair, so here’s how you can help:

  —Large cardboard boxes are needed. Drop off at TRUS or call for pick-up.

  —Homemade baked goods needed. Drop off at the Sweet Shoppe on the upper field between 3 and 4 p.m. on Carnival day.

  —Cakes needed. Drop off on Carnival day at the Cake Walk (tennis courts) between 3 and 4 p.m. on the upper field.

  —Donations of raffle and Pick-a-Prize items gratefully accepted.
   Information: 561-4466.

Protecting rivers:

The preservation and politics

   Charles Kuralt said, “America is a great story, and there is a river on every page of it.” Three Rivers residents hear, see, and experience rivers everyday, have a fascination with flowing water, and understand the wild, scenic, and recreational values of these unique waterways.
   The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. The legislation, championed by Senator Frank Church and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on Oct. 2, 1968, protects the free-flowing waters of many of our nation’s most spectacular rivers.
   Today, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System protects 11,409 miles of 168 rivers in 38 states and Puerto Rico. Sounds impressive, but in reality this is just slightly more than one quarter of one percent of the nation’s rivers. In comparison, more than 60,000 dams have modified 600,000 miles, or about 17 percent, of the nation’s rivers.
   In 1987, this region benefited greatly from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act when 81 miles of the Kings River and 151 miles of the Kern River were determined to “possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values and became designated rivers. Both rivers flow through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Sequoia National Forest.
   The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for appropriate use and development. These living landscapes are uniquely managed to protect the public’s enjoyment of these heritage resources for present and future generations.
   The Act purposefully strives to balance river development with permanent protection for the country’s most outstanding free-flowing rivers. The Act specifically:

  —Prohibits dams and other federally-assisted water resources projects that would adversely affect river values;

  —Protects outstanding natural, cultural, or recreational values;

  —Ensures water quality is maintained; and

  —Requires the creation of a comprehensive river management plan that addresses resource protection, development of lands and facilities, user capacities, and other management practices necessary to achieve purposes of the Act.
   Currently, there are 16 bills involving more than 100 rivers before Congress. It’s not an easy path to preservation, however, as only three rivers have been added in the past several years.
   Oregon leads the nation with 48 designated rivers; 40 of those being added in 1988, the largest addition to date. Alaska boasts 3,210 miles of protected waters.
   So grab a fly rod, load the kayak on the car, or just head down to river’s edge and perch on a rock to savor the beauty of a national treasure.

New law directs restaurant

chains to post caloric content

   With a stroke of a pen, California became the first state in the nation to have its restaurant chains with 20 or more locations statewide to post calorie information on menus. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the legislation, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

  “This legislation will help Californians make more informed, healthier choices by making calorie information easily accessible at thousands of restaurants throughout our state,” Gov. Schwarzenegger said. “By being the first state to provide this information to consumers, California is continuing to lead the nation with programs and policies that promote health and nutrition.”
   The new law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, when all menus of the restaurant chains will be required to include the information. But by July 1, 2009, brochures containing either calorie content or other nutritional information – such as amount of saturated fat, carbohydrates, or sodium – will be at the point of sale and drive-thru windows for consumers to obtain.
   The only Three Rivers restaurant to be effected by this law is Pizza Factory.
   The legislation preempts local ordinances in order to create a uniform statewide standard for displaying nutritional information instead of a patchwork of local ordinances, although nothing in the bill would prevent a restaurant from providing additional information if they choose.
   The Governor also signed legislation introduced by Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), which requires vending machines on state property to contain at least 35 percent of the food and at least one-third of the beverages that meet accepted nutritional guidelines by Jan. 1, 2011.
   According to the California Department of Public Health, Californians have gained a total of 360 million pounds over the last decade. One in three children and one in four teens are overweight or at-risk.
   Second only to tobacco, obesity is a leading cause of preventable death among Californians. Since we can’t seem to control our eating and aren’t able to motivate ourselves to exercise, the government has to do it for us for two reasons: to protect us from ourselves and to save the state $28.5 billion in healthcare costs, lost productivity, and workers’ compensation.
   Governor Schwarzenegger, well known for his fitness and nutrition principles, has put in place some of the nation’s most innovative and successful strategies to promote health and nutrition.    He has been specifically devoted to the state’s youth, removing junk food and sodas from schools and implementing physical education standards.

Program reveals

benefits of raw milk

   The Three Rivers chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation will host a presentation on the health benefits of raw milk and raw-milk products. The featured speaker will be Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures Dairy Company, which is located near Fresno and, in 2000, became California’s first raw milk dairy with certified organic pastureland.
   The presentation will be held Saturday, Nov. 15, at 3:30 p.m., at the Mosley barn, located six miles up the South Fork. On hand will be samples of raw milk and information about this important nutrient-dense food.
   There will be a potluck immediately following the presentation for those interested in sharing a meal.
   Advance registration: 561-3637 or 561-3161.

Puppy love

   The fifth class of student trainers from the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center, a Woodlake High School program, is now in session. The students and their puppies have been matched according to personalities, and they now embark on two years of intensive training to prepare their dogs to assist people with special needs to lead more independent lives.


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
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