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In the News - Friday, October 18, 2013

 

 

PARKS OPEN

 

Government impasse ends. For now.

 

Senate, House bill provides short-term funding

 

  

  Late on Wednesday, Oct. 16, on the 16th day of the shutdown of the federal government, Congress struck a deal to fund federal operations through January 15, 2014, and lift the debt ceiling through February 7, 2014. President Obama signed the legislation shortly after midnight effectively ordering all furloughed employees to return to work on Thursday, Oct. 17.

  The accord also restored back pay for all furloughed federal employees, including the 283 from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Yosemite National Park reopened Wednesday evening.

   “The gates at the entrance stations at Sequoia and Kings Canyon will be open and it will be business as usual on Thursday morning,” reported Dana Dierkes, the parks’ public information officer. “Some pipes have to be flushed and other facilities made operational but campgrounds and everything normally open this time of year will be up and running shortly after the barricades are removed.”             

   The reopening of the local parks couldn’t have come soon enough for Dennis Villavicencio, who owns Sequoia Village Inn and Buckeye Tree Lodge just outside the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park. He said as soon as he learned that the end of the shutdown was imminent, he directed his staff to start calling cancelled reservations in the hope of getting some to reconfirm.

   When asked for his reaction about the news that the shutdown was over, he said, “I’m feeling frustration, anger, betrayal, helplessness, and the hypocrisy of it all. As this needless and unnecessary partial shutdown dragged on, and eventually ended, my feelings only grew stronger. The lack of any sense as to the harm being done to their constituents by nearly all of our elected federal representatives was appalling.”

   Dennis also said he was disappointed that hundreds of thousands of federal employees for were paid to stay home.

   “Hundreds of thousands of federal employees were paid to stay home with zero resultant productivity, as we knew they would be,” he said. “Taxpayers are now left with an even higher deficit and less means to pay the deficit because of the loss of billions of dollars in income. It makes no sense — if federal employees are going to be paid anyway, they should have been working, just like the vast majority of taxpayers.”

   On Wednesday evening, the Sequoia Parks Foundation sponsored an employee-appreciation dinner at the Three Rivers Memorial Building for local park employees, concessions workers, and Sequoia Natural History Association staff.

   Several Three Rivers restaurants, including Antoinette’s, Sierra Subs, We Three, and the Gateway catered the dinner for 350 employees and their families. So some businesses benefited from the catering that boosted a local economy down more than 60 percent from a normal October.

   “If this shutdown would have occurred in July or August, the effects would have been even more devastating,” Dennis said. “What happens in three months or a year from now when we face the same potential shutdown?”

   Dennis said gateway communities like Three Rivers, as well as the State of California need a contingency plan to keep California’s parks open in the event of another shutdown.

   “California is fully capable of short-term funding of the national parks until it can be repaid by the federal government,” Dennis said. “Had such an agreement been in place prior to this shutdown, California’s economy would have been saved hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and taxes at no cost to our state.”

   At a meeting held last Saturday at the Gateway Restaurant to draft a letter from Three Rivers businesses urging an end to the shutdown, Supervisor Allen Ishida pledged some Tulare County funding to advertise that the parks are reopened.

   “The time to act is now,” Dennis concluded.

   The Senate approved the measure to reopen the government 81-18; the House voted in favor 285-144. Both local representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), whose District 23 includes Three Rivers, and Devin Nunes (R-Fresno), whose District 22 includes Woodlake, voted in favor of the measure.

 

Lake Kaweah reopens

 

   Late on Wednesday, Oct. 16, on the 16th day of the shutdown of the federal government, Congress struck a deal to fund federal operations through January 15, 2014, and lift the debt ceiling through February 7, 2014. President Obama signed the legislation shortly after midnight effectively ordering all furloughed employees to return to work on Thursday, Oct. 17.

   The accord also restored back pay for all furloughed federal employees, including the 283 from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Yosemite National Park reopened Wednesday evening.

   “The gates at the entrance stations at Sequoia and Kings Canyon will be open and it will be business as usual on Thursday morning,” reported Dana Dierkes, the parks’ public information officer. “Some pipes have to be flushed and other facilities made operational but campgrounds and everything normally open this time of year will be up and running shortly after the barricades are removed.”             

   The reopening of the local parks couldn’t have come soon enough for Dennis Villavicencio, who owns Sequoia Village Inn and Buckeye Tree Lodge just outside the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park. He said as soon as he learned that the end of the shutdown was imminent, he directed his staff to start calling cancelled reservations in the hope of getting some to reconfirm.

   When asked for his reaction about the news that the shutdown was over, he said, “I’m feeling frustration, anger, betrayal, helplessness, and the hypocrisy of it all. As this needless and unnecessary partial shutdown dragged on, and eventually ended, my feelings only grew stronger. The lack of any sense as to the harm being done to their constituents by nearly all of our elected federal representatives was appalling.”

    Dennis also said he was disappointed that hundreds of thousands of federal employees for were paid to stay home.

   “Hundreds of thousands of federal employees were paid to stay home with zero resultant productivity, as we knew they would be,” he said. “Taxpayers are now left with an even higher deficit and less means to pay the deficit because of the loss of billions of dollars in income. It makes no sense — if federal employees are going to be paid anyway, they should have been working, just like the vast majority of taxpayers.”

   On Wednesday evening, the Sequoia Parks Foundation sponsored an employee-appreciation dinner at the Three Rivers Memorial Building for local park employees, concessions workers, and Sequoia Natural History Association staff.

   Several Three Rivers restaurants, including Antoinette’s, Sierra Subs, We Three, and the Gateway catered the dinner for 350 employees and their families. So some businesses benefited from the catering that boosted a local economy down more than 60 percent from a normal October.

   “If this shutdown would have occurred in July or August, the effects would have been even more devastating,” Dennis said. “What happens in three months or a year from now when we face the same potential shutdown?”

   Dennis said gateway communities like Three Rivers, as well as the State of California need a contingency plan to keep California’s parks open in the event of another shutdown.

   “California is fully capable of short-term funding of the national parks until it can be repaid by the federal government,” Dennis said. “Had such an agreement been in place prior to this shutdown, California’s economy would have been saved hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and taxes at no cost to our state.”

   At a meeting held last Saturday at the Gateway Restaurant to draft a letter from Three Rivers businesses urging an end to the shutdown, Supervisor Allen Ishida pledged some Tulare County funding to advertise that the parks are reopened.

   “The time to act is now,” Dennis concluded.

   The Senate approved the measure to reopen the government 81-18; the House voted in favor 285-144. Both local representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), whose District 23 includes Three Rivers, and Devin Nunes (R-Fresno), whose District 22 includes Woodlake, voted in favor of the measure.

 

Motorcyclists injured in separate accidents

 

   The Visalia office of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) released details this week relating to the cause of a motorcycle crash that occurred Saturday, Oct. 5, on Highway 198 near the intersection of Deer Canyon Estates.

   Another motorcycle accident that occurred Monday, Oct. 14, near Salt Creek Drive on Highway 198 remains under investigation.

   The October 5 accident occurred when Matthew Hornbaker, 30, of Riverdale was riding his 2005 Honda motorcycle eastbound shortly before 8:30 a.m. Reports from witnesses at the scene stated that the motorcyclist suddenly went down and skidded along an embankment.

   Hornbaker, who suffered lacerations and complained of back and shoulder pain, was transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Medical Center. He was later cited for a moving violation caused by an unsafe turning movement.

   In the October 14 crash, Garrett Cardoza, 32, of Tulare was driving his 2006 Honda motorcycle westbound on Highway 198 when he caught a peg, causing the motorcycle to go down and slide to a stop on the pavement.

   Cardoza was transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

   Officer Scott Harris, CHP spokesperson for the Visalia office, said that the common factor in these crashes is that the motorcyclists are traveling at an unsafe speed and fail to negotiate curves in the roadway.

   A CHP investigator also reported that two ATVs that were stolen last month from a contractor’s storage barn on Salt Creek Drive have both been recovered. The thefts, including vandalism to nearby BLM property, remain under investigation.

 

Sequoia-Kings Canyon reschedules public meetings

 

   Two public information sessions on the “Restoration of Native Species in High Elevation Ecosystems Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement” have been cancelled due to the recent interruption in workflow at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

   The meetings — one in Three Rivers on October 22 and the other at the Fresno campus of UC Merced on October 23 — will be rescheduled to mid November. The public comment period, which previously had a deadline of November 25, has been extended to Tuesday, Dec. 17.

   The plan, which includes two volumes and was released in September, is currently available for review. It calls for the eradication of nonnative fish in order to restore diminishing populations of mountain yellow-legged frogs.

   The Park Service is exploring the implementation of one of four alternatives, one of which is no action, in order to expand the current “high elevation aquatic ecosystem restoration program” within the parks to include additional sites and incorporate alternative methods.

   To date, Sequoia-Kings Canyon has restored or is in the process of restoring 26 lakes and ponds, but is finding the current methods of eradication of the nonnative populations of trout to be on too small of a scale to be effective. An average of less than one lake per year is currently being restored.

   “To increase the rate of restoration and the size of aquatic habitat that can be restored (including whole basins), the NPS is proposing to expand the current program, both in the number of waterbodies to be restored and the types of treatment methods to be used,” states the Executive Summary.

   As a result, public input is required to determine the proper course of action to take this ongoing project to the next level, or not.

   The plan is available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki. Those who wish to submit online comments may do so on the above website (emailed comments will not be accepted).

   Comments may also be made in writing and delivered in person or by U.S. mail to: Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Attn: Aquatics Ecosystem Restoration Plan, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA  93271. Faxed comments may be sent to (559) 565-4202.

   Anonymous comments are not accepted. In addition, an address, phone number, and email address is requested.

 

DECEMBER 29, 1995, HEADLINE IN THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH…

"SHUTDOWN: THE CONGRESS THAT STOLE CHRISTMAS"

 

Three Rivers has been in the middle of the congressional pickle before

 

   On November 14, 1995, the federal government closed its doors for five days. But since the shutdown was short and a distant memory by the busy Thanksgiving holiday, it wasn’t given much attention by a nation gearing up for turkey dinners and Black Friday sales.

   But on December 16, 1995, when the lights went out again, this time during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Three Rivers was in an uproar.

   This closure, which lasted through January 6, 1996, was the first time in the history of the national parks that the entire system was closed during Christmas.

   During this closure, the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors declared their county a disaster area due to lost revenue from Yosemite travelers.

   In Three Rivers, December lodging guests had mostly cancelled their reservations, and those on the books for January were beginning to disappear fast.

   Although Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks remained off limits to visitors, the first phase of the still ongoing Generals Highway reconstruction — from the Ash Mountain headquarters to Potwisha Campground — was gearing up. Funds for the construction project were provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and not impacted by the present closure.

   On Thursday, Jan. 4, 1996, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an emergency resolution in recognition of the revenue losses suffered by Three Rivers and Lemon Cove businesses.

   When the second closure within two months ended on January 6, a third closure loomed. If the budget remained unresolved, which it did not, a replay would have occurred on January 26.

 

Books and more at Friends of the 3R Library sale

 

   The Friends of the Library Semiannual Book Sale will be at Three Rivers Library on Saturday, Oct. 19 (tomorrow), from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. In addition to hundreds of donated books and media available for sale (pay what you like), there will be entertainment for all who attend.

   At 10:30 a.m., “The Wild Child” bubble guy will put on his fabulous and scientific show for children and adults alike. At 2 p.m., Neil Strain, guitarist, will entertain folks with his finger style, pickin’ blues through jazz. 

   And for those who need a break from browsing all those books, Elizabeth Holliday will provide  free 15-minute chair massages on the deck.

   Everyone is invited to attend the sale. All proceeds will provide additional improvements and enrichment for the library. 

   Library updates— The Friends of the Three Rivers Library nonprofit group lately rejuvenated itself. A band of residents, including Sonja Hoogeveen, librarian, has been meeting on a regular basis to determine what improvements the board could provide to benefit  the patrons of the Three Rivers Library. 

   The board began with meetings with County officials to coordinate its ideas with those of the county library. Jeff Scott, head librarian, has proved to be easy to work with and has been agreeing to consider anything the board has proposed, board members said.

   Jeff has stepped right in and put County Library funds to work on long-needed projects.  Hence, the two brand-new signs on the Three Rivers Library building, which had never had any.

   Last week, a new book drop arrived with separate sides for books and DVDs/CDs (to avoid crushing the discs). There have been water issues, and a new well is to be drilled before year’s end. 

   Some repair work on the west deck and wireless Internet are the future. The Friends board is appreciative of all this attention to the library.

   In addition, the Friends have purchased a picnic table and umbrella for the west deck so the area may be used for reading, computing, conversation, and art projects.

   One board member created a binder in which readers are encouraged to share their most recent book recommendations.  Look for the artfully decorated “READ THIS!” on the library conference table.

   The Friends board has also set aside funds for enrichment programs such as special speakers and educational programs for children. A schedule has been created for local organizations to arrange the display case in the foyer entrance: Raven Art this month! 

   At the board’s request, a tall bookshelf was installed by the County, which will be used for displaying the books that the Friends sell to finance its projects. In addition, Jeff is doing research along with the board to address the best way to permanently store the hundreds of books and media that are collected all year long.

   For more information about the Three Rivers Library, including operating hours, go to www.tularecountylibrary.org/threeriversbranch.

 

OBITUARIES

 

Norman Polly

1922 ~ 2013

   Norman Robert Polly, a native and lifetime resident of Lemon Cove, died after battling pneumonia on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, just a few days shy of his 91st birthday.

   A memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m., at First Christian Church of Visalia, 1023 N. Chinowth.

   Norman was born October 16, 1922, in Lemon Cove. Growing up in the Lemon Cove area close to the river, Norman became an excellent swimmer and enjoyed many hours with his friends at McKay’s Point, Terminus Beach, and Slick Rock. 

   His mother initially cooked for the work crews at the Marks Ranch. He never grew tired of his mother’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

   After attending Lemon Cove Elementary School, he graduated from Exeter High School in 1940 and Visalia Junior College (present-day College of the Sequoias) in 1942. 

Norman joined the U.S. Navy in October 1942 and served in the South Pacific during World War II aboard the USS Iowa, USS San Diego, and USS Duluth. He survived Halsey’s Typhoon and was aboard the USS Missouri as part of the delegation that accepted the formal surrender of Japan. He was also one of the first 20 Americans to land on the Japanese mainland after the surrender.

   Norman married Jean Wolfsen in March 1945, and the couple started a citrus ranch on property in Lindcove.  They had two sons.

   After being discharged from the Navy in November 1945, Norman began working with the California Department of Employment (now called Employment Development Department) in Visalia. He transferred to the Porterville office where he worked his way up to manager of the office, serving in Porterville for 28 years. During his tenure, the office helped Porterville improve its economic prosperity and attract investment in both industry and agriculture.

   During his years working in Porterville, Norman was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and served as chairman of the Industrial Committee. He was also a member of Rotary Club and received the Paul Harris Award for Outstanding Service. 

   Following Jean’s death in 1965, Norman married Marion Runciman in 1966. The couple settled in Lemon Cove.

   Norman was a member of Sunkist Growers since 1947 and proud to be a long-time member of the Sierra Citrus Association marketing cooperative in Lindsay. He was a member of the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church and after recently moving to Visalia attended the First Christian Church.

   Norman and Marion enjoyed traveling and had visited Ireland, Scotland, England, Russia, Hawaii, Israel, and Turkey. They had many friends, and often hosted gatherings at their home. 

   After Marion’s death, Norman continued to travel, mostly to visit family in Arizona and Northern California and often entertained at home. Fridays were special because it was when he would have lunch with a group of close friends at Anne Lang’s Emporium in Three Rivers. 

   Norman loved to garden and was very proud of the beautifully landscaped yard he and Marion established at Lemon Cove. He loved to give away the flowers and citrus fruit that he grew. 

   He could be found appreciating the groves and watering his plants right up until his last few months.

   Norman was preceded in death by his parents, Bert and Ella Polly; brothers Raymond and Orval Polly; sister Pearl; stepson Jere Runciman; wife Jean; and wife Marion. 

   He is survived by his two sons, Jim Polly and wife Carolyn of  McKinleyville and Richard Polly and wife Mary of Tucson, Ariz.;  stepdaughter and son-in-law Martha and Jim Mosely of Visalia; grandchildren Sam (Flor) Polly, Mary (Cliff) Hillier, Jon Polly, Stacy Polly, and 12 great-grandchildren.

   In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First Presbyterian Church of Lemon Cove, P.O. Box 44348, Lemon Cove, CA 93244; or to the First Christian Church of Visalia, 1023 N. Chinowth, Visalia, CA 93291. 

   Condolences may be sent to www.smithfamilychapel.com.

 

Margaret Campbell

1930 ~ 2013

   Margaret Campbell, a longtime resident of Kaweah, died Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. She was 83.

   There will be a celebration of life service on Sunday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. at the Church at Kaweah on North Fork Drive.

   Margaret was born March 31, 1930, in Los Angeles. On July 14, 1950, she married Warren Lee Campbell.

   The team quickly began to minister to the beatniks at Venice Beach. They opened a church right on the beach front.

   In 1963, the Campbells moved to Kaweah and started a church, which was then known as Kaweah Community Church.

   Financially, times were tough for the Campbells, so Margaret worked as a waitress in Three Rivers at Trembly’s Restaurant (present-day We Three Restaurant) and Buckaroo Inn (today, the building east and adjacent to Lazy J Ranch Motel). She also spent several years working at various local motels as a housekeeper.

   Margaret said she had always wanted to marry a pastor, and she was very happy to work alongside her husband, Warren Lee, for 56 years.

   Margaret was a loving mother and grandmother who will be greatly missed. The Church at Kaweah already feels the void left by her passing.

   Margaret was preceded in death by her husband of nearly 58 years, Warren Lee Campbell (1926-2008), and son Jonathan Campbell (1958-1983).

   She is survived by her daughter Christine Rivers and husband, Doug; son Warren M. Campbell and wife Jill of Kaweah; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

 

Rosa Lasswell

1928 ~ 2013

   Rosa Adeline Lasswell of Visalia died Monday, Oct. 7. She was 85.

   Rosa was born in Long Beach on May 30, 1928, the only child of Clifford Sylvester McDonald and Ariel Zenith McDonald. In 1947, she graduated from Pasadena High School.

   On March 5, 1949, Rosa married Donald Fred Lasswell. They had two daughters.

Rosa worked at Bank of America in Visalia for more than two decades. She was  a  member at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Rosa and Don were also involved with the Three Rivers Lions Club.

   Don passed away when Rosa was 47. Despite losing her husband at such a young age, she demonstrated great strength, integrity and independence.

   Eleven years ago, Rosa had a stroke that left her unable to walk. But she spent time daily with her daughters and enjoyed visits from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

   Rosa was preceded in death by her parents and, on July 2, 1976, her husband, Don.

Rosa is survived by her daughters, Maria Lasswell Round and husband Rodger and Sandie  Lasswell Cote and husband Mike; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

   A funeral service was held Monday, Oct. 14, at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Visalia.

   In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the donor’s favorite charity. Tributes and condolences may be posted at www.millerchapel.com.

 
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
editor@kaweahcommonwealth.com
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