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In the News - Friday, October 23, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Eagle succumbs after

collision with vehicle

  The return of the golden eagles to Kaweah Country was cause for celebration Sunday morning, Oct. 11, when they put on a great air show at the east end of Lake Kaweah. A mated pair has regularly come home to this location in recent years and had been back in the area for just a few days.
   Celebration turned to tragedy that very afternoon when motorists Chris Heater and Kim Davis discovered one of the eagles on Highway 198 west of Horse Creek Bridge. A probable collision with a motor vehicle had injured the animal, which sat helpless at the side of the road.
   Its mate stood by the stricken bird until Chris and Kim approached, then flew up and settled in a tree to watch the story unfold. Chris is an experienced bird handler, having served as a rescue volunteer with the Wildlife Foundation in Marin County. They gathered the eagle in a blanket, covered its head, and delivered it to the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center at Lemon Hill.
   Volunteer hosts Pat and Robert Christensen notified USACE Ranger Michelle Hart, who contacted the California Department of Fish and Game. DFG recommended that she contact Critter Creek Wildlife Station, a nonprofit rehabilitation center for wildlife located in Squaw Valley near Kings Canyon National Park.
   Bruce and Michelle Lowe, Critter Creek volunteers from Exeter, promptly arrived at the visitor center to take control of the situation. The Lowes conducted an examination and discovered injuries to one wing and paralysis in both legs. Having made sure that the bird could travel, they drove to meet Louise Culver to transfer their charge.
Louise is the director of Critter Creek and holds the permits required to administer care to raptors. After observing the bird overnight, she delivered it to Dr. Ken Stocks, a Fresno veterinarian specializing in wildlife care.
   Dr. Stocks determined that the bird was a male about 10 years of age, a golden eagle in the prime of his life. But x-rays proved beyond a doubt that the majestic bird had suffered a broken back and had to be put down — a sad but merciful end.
   Golden eagles are magnificent creatures. Their diet consists of a wide variety of land and aquatic animals, and given the right opportunity — carrion. As a result, they may be attracted to roadways for an easy meal.
   Like many birds, they are monogamous and mate for many years — even for life. So when tragedy strikes, both birds of the pair suffer.
As cooler weather approaches, wildlife encounters become more frequent. We all need to be especially careful on the highways and roads of the foothills. Driving animal-aware can prevent the kind of incident that can turn a celebration of our natural world into grief for critter and human alike.
   Generally, injured animals or birds should never be moved except by experienced wildlife handlers. Report injuries or any incidents to rangers, DFG (559-243-4005), or Critter Creek (www.crittercreek.org).
   Article by Larry Butler, volunteer host at the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center at Lake Kaweah.

Chamber unveils new 3R website

  At the Sequoia-Foothills Chamber of Commerce mixer Wednesday evening, Oct. 21, in Harrison Hall at the Community Presbyterian Church board members unveiled the new website. Tony Moreno, president of the local chamber, said the website will “go live” Monday at www.threerivers.com.
   Featured prominently on the home page is the chamber’s theme, “Discover, Explore, Enjoy.” Vice-president Arlin Talley said the aim is to “get people to come to and stay in Three Rivers.”
   Streaming photos at the top of the page showcase the foothills and draw viewers to information and local businesses who advertise with banner ads on the site, Talley said.
   Tony Moreno, who along with local programmer Peter Sodhy, worked to make the site easy to navigate while incorporating members’ ideas on how to improve on the old website, created in 2002.

  “This site will help visitors find Three Rivers and is a valuable local resource as well,” said Moreno. “For example, the public-access ‘Calendar’ page is meant to fulfill our mission to serve the community and prevent conflicting events on the same day.”
   Moreno said details of any local event can be sent to Catherine Launey, SFCC secretary. She will update the online calendar and keep the bulletin board current at the Village Shopping Center.
   Website benefits to businesses, tourists, and residents include a “Members” page with listings by category and links to a business’s own website.
   A map page was created by Mark Tilchen showing the relation of the national parks with the region.

  “This site will expand as we help our community grow,” said Moreno. “The Chamber requests businesses and residents review, comment, and contribute to this work in progress."

Search for backpackers

has happy ending

Incredible as it may seem, three hikers were rescued Thursday, Oct. 15, in Kings Canyon National Park only several hundred yards from the main road in Cedar Grove and their parked vehicle. All that stood between the men getting back safely was a treacherous rock ledge next to a swift, rain-swelled river.
Even when the South Fork of the mighty Kings River is at it lowest flow, it’s still called Roaring River for a reason. It’s a tumbling cascade of waterfalls that is almost deafening for visitors who venture along its banks no matter what the season.
Add to the Roaring River scenario a rainstorm that added another eight to 10 inches of precipitation in less than 24 hours. Imagine the runoff and then picture this trio of hikers ledged out above all that high water where one misstep in any direction could mean certain death.
“These guys did everything right by staying together and waiting for somebody to spot their location,” said Adrienne Freeman, public affairs specialist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “After short-hauling the men off the ledge, they were reunited with family members at Ash Mountain.”
The trio from Southern California, brothers Jacob and Jordan Zeman and friend Lanier Rogers, began their ambitious itinerary on Thursday, Oct. 8. Midway through the hike after scaling Colby Pass, the men decided to turn back and plotted a cross-country route via the Roaring River drainage.
When the sudden storm began in the area on Tuesday, it filled the steep canyon they were descending with tons of water, flowing in places that could have conceivably been available for the trek out. With limited options, the men hunkered down and set up camp to wait for the storm and high water to recede.
In addition to the weather that hampered searchers until Thursday, the fact that no permit itinerary was filed with park rangers means it took even more time to narrow the scope of the search. At least three family members hiked out of Cedar Grove on Wednesday to look for the lost backpackers. This was the party that was sighted and became the source of a TV newscast that erroneously reported that the lost backpackers had been found.
“Hikers need to be more responsible at this time of year, especially when the ranger stations are closing and there are fewer rangers on duty,” said Adrienne.
Two helicopters and more than 50 searchers were in the field when the men were finally located and rescued.

Three indicted in park pot case

  Three brothers were arrested Tuesday, Oct. 6, and indicted last week by a federal grand jury for growing 3,500 pot plants near Dorst Campground in Sequoia National Park. Osvaldo Arias-Diaz, Jose Arias-Diaz, and German Arias-Diaz were charged with one count each of conspiracy to grow marijuana.
   A search of the brothers’ Stockton residence was conducted when the trio was arrested. Other evidence linking the men to the pot plantation was recovered from a clandestine camp in a densely forested area near the campground.
   The case is being investigated jointly by the National Park Service and the High Density Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.

Fall has it all in Kaweah Country

  As summer around here can at times be too hot for humans, residents tend to hibernate till the cooler days (and nights) of autumn. Then all begin to venture away from the cooler vents and waterways to their phones, email, and calendars to begin planning for their fall days filled with events and activities.
   Here is just some of what’s happening:
   Cherokee Oaks candy drive— Donations are ongoing to assist Cherokee Oaks residents with their annual hosting of the community’s trick-or-treaters. Unopened bags of candy may be dropped off at the Bank of the Sierra during business hours from now until Friday, Oct. 30. The candy will be distributed to homes throughout the neighborhood.
   TRUS Halloween Carnival— The Eagle Booster Club of Three Rivers School will host the annual Halloween Carnival, which takes place tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 24) from 4 to 8 pm. As it has for several decades, the event kicks off with a costume parade for students and the crowning of two eighth-graders as king and queen, then to a backdrop of live entertainment by local talent, the kids hit the game booths, the adults head to the Pick-A-Prize and raffle tables, and the entire family meets up later for a homemade dinner in the gym.
   As always, admission and parking are free. Tickets are purchased for the games, raffle, and Pick-A-Prize; cash and checks are accepted at the dinner, hosted by the eighth-graders and their parents.
   Al Stoppel Day— Named in honor of a former Three Rivers resident for his efforts on initiating an annual community cleanup day, this year’s event will take place Saturday, Oct. 31, from 7 a.m. till noon, beginning at Community Presbyterian Church. Volunteer signups are currently ongoing in an effort to ensure that every area of the community receives attention.
   Trash bags, safety vests, and hats will be provided as will trash disposal. Residents are also asked to clean up roadways in the vicinity of their homes and property.
   A complimentary pancake breakfast will be available to all volunteers.
   For information or to sign up to assist, call 561-4154 or 561-4816.
   Handweavers of the Valley show and sale— For 30 years, this guild has organized an event to show the wares of members who participate in the age-old craft of handweaving. This year’s Harvest of Handwovens will be held Saturday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Exeter Memorial Building.
   More than two dozen local weavers will have their creations on display, which include hand towels, baby blankets, placemats, clothing, throws, rugs, and more. There will also be holiday gift ideas as well as plenty of items in holiday colors to decorate the home and table.
   For those inspired by this unique craft, there will be hands-on demonstrations throughout the day of spinning and weaving, so give a loom a try!

23rd annual Career Day:

A success story

  In this difficult economy, there is no greater challenge for today’s graduating seniors than to find a career and a good-paying job. That’s why the annual Career Day is so important as part of the high school experience at Woodlake.
   Since it was started in the mid-1980s, Woodlake High School’s showcase event has become bigger and better each year. Carmita Pena, WHS head counselor and Career Day coordinator, said this year’s crew of more than 200 students and community volunteers ensured that everything ran smoothly.
   The 2009 Career Day was held on Friday, Oct. 16, and featured programs, demonstrations, and a full day of activities to engage Woodlake’s entire student body of more than 700 students. There were 144 presenters from law enforcement, military, media, public service, and private industry representing almost every imaginable career.
   There is also a college and job fair that runs concurrently in the old gymnasium where students explore an array of options of what to do after graduation. College and technical school recruiters vie with military personnel for the attention of students who circulate around the room between presentation periods.
   The students seem to really like the opportunity to see what’s out there in the grownup world and take a break from the fall academic routine. Some students, who now have returned as presenters, look back upon Career Day as the time when they first got the idea to attend a particular college or think about a certain job that they are now doing.
   This year’s keynote speaker was Rosie Reynoso Cofre, who graduated from Woodlake in 1986. As a senior she was voted Most Likely to Succeed and Best Personality. Her classmates had her pegged correctly as today she is a Global Programs Manager for Cisco Systems.
   Rosie gave an inspirational speech, pointing out that after San Jose State and a graduate degree from Golden Gate University she now has a successful career and can work mostly from her home office as she cares for her three children under age 4.

  “You can do it too,” Rosie told the Woodlake students. “Set your goals high, work hard, and always follow your dreams.”


Let's all scream for ice cream

by Tina St. John

  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like ice cream? It’s an all-around treat. It can be eaten morning, noon, or night and anytime of the year, in my opinion.
   There is such an array of ice creams that it’s mind-boggling. For me, the best ice cream is homemade.
   My dad once told me, all you need to make ice cream is ice and cream. That’s why they call it ice cream.
   Then he would add that it was a little more complicated than that. You need sugar, eggs, and flavoring too.
   I still didn’t think it sounded that complicated until he described churning the ice and cream in an ice-cream maker by hand for hours until the cream was as thick as, well, ice cream.
   He also told me it was a “happy food.” I agreed with him on that.
   He said it was impossible to feel sad when you ate ice cream. I agreed with that as well. So why didn’t we eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday?
   Every Fourth of July he would make ice cream. He’d start early in the morning to churn out several batches for everyone.
   It was the best ice cream in the world. He’d mix milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and eggs in a stainless-steel container that slipped into a wooden crate big enough to hold crushed ice around it.
   He then would churn it while pouring rock salt to melt the ice. The process was designed to turn the cream mixture into ice cream.
   All day, it seemed as if we kids could only think about ice cream. It wasn’t like we were bored waiting for our beloved bowl of ice cream. It’s just that it was so good that our minds were definitely contemplating its debut.
   While we waited patiently, he planned penny dives and shirt races. We had a swimming pool in our backyard, and several families in the neighborhood played these games.
   For the penny dive, we all stood along the edge of the pool with our backs to the water. He would throw pennies everywhere, and we could hear them hit the water, piercing the surface like arrows whizzing by. Then he would give us the “go” signal and in we would jump, swimming frantically to gather as many as we could. Whoever gathered the most pennies got the biggest bowl of ice cream.
   After the penny dive was the shirt race. Two teams formed on either end of the pool. Wearing a T-shirt, each team would swim to the other side, get out, and holding their forearms together, we would slip the wet tee onto the next racer. This undoubtedly would make us laugh so hard the race became almost useless. But whoever was the winning team got bigger bowls of ice cream. I think that was just my dad’s way of getting us excited for the games because, in fact, we all ended up with generous helpings.
   Ice cream was not just a Fourth of July tradition in our family. Ice cream was almost a staple.
   My mother used to make “yule logs” for Christmas dinner. They were sometimes made with ice cream wrapped delicately in a thin light cake covered with chocolate whipped cream and decorated like a Yule log.
   Ice cream also serves as a comfort food. How about two peanut butter cookies with ice cream in between to make your own ice-cream sandwich?
   Or try putting ice cream in a glass and pour just a bit of milk in there and stir it around. The crystals that form with the consistency of the creaminess are something else.
   I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like ice cream. Never!
   When I was older and living on my own, my dad called me one afternoon to invite me over for ice cream. He had made some vanilla custard ice cream and had picked fresh raspberries from the garden that were still warm from the sun. He told me that I had to come right away. I was curious as to why the hurry.

  “Your mother will be back soon and if she sees me eating this she’ll get upset,” he confided.
   Being that my father was getting older, I suppose my mother somehow felt she had to monitor my dad’s ice cream indulgences.  Good luck, Mom! The whole scenario had reminded me of my deviant teenage years but it was my dad this time.
   I didn’t really understand fully how much my father loved ice cream until his last days with us. Knowing that he didn’t have much time left, all us nine kids came to be with him at his home.
   He had stocked the freezer with ice cream because, as he told my sister, he did not want any of us to go without. We didn’t know how long it would be until he passed, but for a week he laid in a coma in his bed.
   Every day, his dear friend and colleague Dr. Freeman would come to the house with a sundae from the Dairy Queen to feed to my father. This was the one time of the day that my dad would smile and open his mouth for a bite.
   Even though he was in a coma he somehow knew ice cream was beckoning. It was truly amazing to us all.
   The day my dad actually did die, he had taken a bite of the sundae that  Dr. Freeman brought for him exactly one hour before. I’m pretty sure there was a huge sundae waiting for him in heaven.
   Below is my dad’s simple ice cream recipe. I’ve also enclosed my own healthy version of frozen yogurt.
   Bon Appetit!
   Tina St. John writes from her Three Rivers studio.

Dad’s Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2-3 teaspoons of vanilla

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, milk and eggs. Stir slowly over low-medium heat until mixture coats a metal spoon. Stir constantly and cool. When ready to freeze, add cream and vanilla. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze.

Healthy Frozen Yogurt

1 quart vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt (use ¼ cup of honey to sweeten plain yogurt)
Fresh fruit of any kind or juice from 2 oranges

Mix together and pour mixture into ice cream maker. Freeze.

Recipe from Tina St. John’s “Welcome to My Food Column,” published October 23, 2009, in The Kaweah Commonwealth.

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
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