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In the News - Friday, OCTOBER 27, 2006





An incumbent, two newcomers, and one returnee

   A five-member Board of Trustees carries out the will of the citizens of the Three Rivers Union School District in matters of public education. The school board is the policy-making body for the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school district.
   BACKGROUND, RESPONSIBILITIES, AND DUTIES— In addition to setting policy, the TRUS board also is responsible for hiring the superintendent/principal — of which there have only been four in the district’s 79-year history — and also holds regularly scheduled meetings to conduct the business of the district, approves employment and termination of personnel, approves the budget, approves new building plans, awards bids, and oversees the collection, disbursement, and auditing of funds.
   The priority of the trustees, however, is the students. Responsible for the education of Three Rivers’s youngest residents, the board strives to ensure that TRUS provides a safe, child-centered learning environment where all individual developmental needs are met.
   TRUS district voters elect their school board members every two years. The trustees are community members who serve without compensation for four-year terms.
   Each December, the board elects a president and a clerk to preside for one-year terms.
   The board conducts school business at regularly scheduled meetings on the second Wednesday of each month. The meetings are conducted at Three Rivers School, 49132 Sierra Drive, commencing at 6 p.m.
   DECISION 2006— On Tuesday, Nov. 7, local voters will decide who will fill three seats on the TRUS board. One incumbent hopes to retain her seat — Bobbie Harris — while two other board members — Moises Garza and Marie Powell — whose terms are expiring, decided not to seek reelection.
   Moises was first appointed to the board in 1993, then elected for three consecutive terms. His three children graduated from Three Rivers School and Woodlake High School.
   Marie Powell, retired TRUS kindergarten teacher, was elected in 2002 and served one term. Her daughter graduated from Three Rivers School.
   The two other board members — Kristina Roper Graber and Chantel Medeiros-Horton — were appointed in 2004 and their terms expire in 2008.
   Last month, The Kaweah Commonwealth sent each of the four candidates a request for personal information and statements as to their motivation for serving on the TRUS board.
   Here are the candidates’ responses (in alphabetical order):

   Robert Burke has lived in Three Rivers for 28 years. He is in his 31st year as a high school history and psychology instructor, currently at Mount Whitney High School.
   Bob, 52, and his wife, Brenda, have been married for 30 years. They have two grown children, both of whom graduated from Three Rivers School and Woodlake High School.
   Their daughter, Katie, 25, is in her second year of law school at the University of Virginia. Son John, 22, is a senior at Chico State University, majoring in Criminal Justice.
   Bob was formerly a TRUS board member who gave up his seat four years ago to serve on the Woodlake Union High School board.
   Community involvement: “Three Rivers Recreation Commission, 1985-1990. TRUS School Site Council, 1987-1989. TRUS Board of Trustees, 1989-2002. Woodlake Union High School Board of Trustees, 2002-2006.”
   Interests and hobbies: “Gardening, fishing, camping. Road trips with Brenda, including annual excursions to Cal and Humboldt State football games. Restoring and maintaining a 1966 Triumph TR4A. Playing softball in the Poison Oak League since 1980.”
   Goals as a trustee of TRUS: “To maintain the quality of instruction at TRUS. Also, to receive and listen to input from the community on how to continue and improve upon our success. Increase the level of communication between school and town.”
   Top priority as a member of the TRUS board: “To listen. And to continue to make TRUS the center of the community.”
   Philosophy regarding the education of Three Rivers children: “Successful schools create an environment where every child has the chance to succeed. Success is attained when students, teachers, staff, and the community work together to help our children achieve their goals.”

   Roberta “Bobbie” Harris was raised in Three Rivers and graduated from TRUS and Woodlake High School. She is a retired teacher and has lived here for more than 50 years.
   Bobbie, 72, has five grown children — Mary, Jackie, Robin, David, and Steve — all of whom are married and three of which also reside in Three Rivers with their spouses and children. She has 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
   Community involvement: “I grew up in Three Rivers. My mother, Mary McDowall, was the first TRUS superintendent/principal and was the school’s eighth-grade teacher from 1929 to 1969.

  “After her retirement, I taught at Three Rivers School for 30 years (27 of which were full time). My involvement in the community has been mostly centered around Three Rivers Union and Woodlake High School, as a student, teacher, parent, trustee, and member of the WHS Foundation.”
   Interests and hobbies: “Watching my grandkids and other children of the community perform musically, in sports, and academically. Now watching some grow in college. I love to read. I keep healthy by working out regularly. I travel whenever the opportunity presents itself. Thanks to my children, I share many of their family trips.”
   Goals as a trustee of TRUS: “To help provide the best education possible for our children. Because we have top-quality staff at TRUS, that goal is happening.”
   Top priority as a member of the TRUS board: “To support the students and staff. To bring feelings of success to all students. To make use of the training I received during my first term as a trustee, especially in regard to finance.

  “On top of academics, I’d like to see more enrichment for students in all grades in music, the arts, and physical activities.”
   Philosophy regarding the education of Three Rivers children: “Every child in our system is special. As trustees, I feel we have the opportunity and responsibility of bringing the best to them. Schools all over California and other states are feeling a real financial crunch. We, at TRUS, are lucky. We have a community, and organizations in the community, ready to help where finances and physical help are needed.

  “I feel school should be a place where children feel safe and where they can experience success as each step of their education helps prepare them for life.”

   Arthur Ogawa, Ph.D., has lived in Three Rivers for 13 years. He and his wife, Marian Goldeen, have two children, Grace, 19, and Evan, 16, both of whom are homeschooled.
   Art, 58, is a self-employed physicist, computer consultant, and electronic publishing consultant.
   Community involvement: “Kaweah Food Co-op— Member since 1993; steering committee since 1995.

  “CCORC (Central California Offroad Cyclists)-South Chapter— Developed mountain-biking trails and guides to cycling in the Three Rivers area.

  “Traditional West African Drum Ensemble— Charter member and performer.”
   Interests and hobbies: “Bicycling, technical mountain biking and distance road cycling. Hiking and climbing. African music and dance. Computer programming and construction. And local food activism.”
   Goals as a trustee of TRUS: “To make a positive contribution to the community via service on the board. To devote my energy, talent, and creativity in support of TRUS in its important task of providing for the education of children in Three Rivers. By my efforts, in cooperation with the board and administration of the school, to make an enduring difference in the lives of these children and, by extension, those of my community.”
   Top priority as a member of the TRUS board: “Via creative, intelligent thought and responsible action, to help address the important issues facing our school-aged children and our public school, such as declining enrollment and diminished resources available to the school.

  “With open-mindedness and good humor, to encourage as many as possible in our community to participate in our school, either as students, as participants, or as benefactors.”
   Philosophy regarding the education of Three Rivers children: “After 20 years as a student in our schools and universities with a Ph.D. in Physics (UC Berkeley, 1978) and a 20-year career in academe, I come with a great deal of experience with our educational system. Under the auspices of the Loch Lommond School, Marian Goldeen and I have schooled our two children for 15 years, a process that has given me a deep appreciation of the rewards and challenges of teaching our youth.

  “I feel that it is so very important that our children complete their school experience with an undiminished capacity to learn, with an ability to think clearly and independently, with an enduring desire to participate in sports and physical exercise, and with an untrammeled spirit.

  “A child growing up in Three Rivers has a marvelously rich environment and has (or should have) access to the multitude of talents within our community who can inspire and instruct them. Each child is unique and has individual strengths, inclinations, challenges, and needs. Each one deserves to be treated with respect and empathy.

  “These challenging times present an opportunity for our school to open itself to even broader involvement of our community, to the benefit of the school, the community, and our children. With good will and humility, it is my hope to benefit the Three Rivers community through my work.”

   Scott Sherwood has lived in Three Rivers for 21 years and graduated from Three Rivers School and Woodlake High School. He and his wife, Cynthia, have two daughters, Hannah, 6, and Christina, 5. Their third daughter, Sierra, will be born in mid-November.
   Scott, 27, is the son of Dave and Sue Sherwood of Three Rivers. His mother, Sue, has been the TRUS superintendent/principal for the past 10 years.
   He is an installations manager for Home Depot.
   Community involvement: “With the time I have after work is done, I try to involve myself with the activities that carry my children’s interest. I have volunteered at Three Rivers School, coached the ‘Yankees’ during the Spring 2006 T-ball season, helped beautify Lake Kaweah with the local Girl Scout troop during last month’s National Public Lands Day, and am willing to help wherever needed.”
   Interests and hobbies: “I enjoy fishing, woodworking, rock climbing, and anything outdoors while teaching my children how to enjoy these activities with me.”
   Goals as a trustee of TRUS: “To make a positive impact on the level of education that our children receive. Also, to finish my term as a board member with the overall state of Three Rivers Union School being better off for it.”
   Top priority as a member of the TRUS board: “My top priority will always be our community’s youth. My wife and I will have a child attending TRUS for the next 15 years. I believe every member of the TRUS staff has dedicated a lifetime to ensuring the wellbeing of our children. It would make me proud to be a small part of that.”
   Philosophy regarding the education of Three Rivers children: “The education at Three Rivers School is the best! I grew up here and attended TRUS many years ago. From the day our first daughter was born, my wife and I knew there was no other place we wanted to raise our children.”

County workshop

planned for 3R

   Three Rivers will be among the very first stops of the County of Tulare’s next tour of public meetings to gather input on the soon-to-made public Goals and Policies Report of the Tulare County General Plan. The meeting is scheduled to be held at the Three Rivers Memorial Building on Monday evening, Dec. 11.
   The purpose of the meeting is to give the consultants, who are working under contract with Tulare County, an opportunity to update the General Plan’s progress and explain the process. County supervisors and Tulare County Planning Commission members are currently reviewing the draft report, the first of a multi-volume set of General Plan documents that will eventually be adopted by the Board of Supervisors.
   The first draft report contains a framework of goals and policies of what is required by law to be addressed in the final General Plan document. There are seven mandated elements that form a comprehensive set of planning policies:
   (1) A land use element that determines density and community design; (2) circulation element that identifies transportation and utilities; (3) housing element that outlines housing needs; (4) open-space element that primarily preserves and protects natural resources; (5) conservation element addresses the use of natural resources; (6) safety element that defines how the public will be protected, e.g. air quality; and (7) a noise element that deals with the protection from excessive noise.
   The report also contains a detailed map of the “urban development boundary” for Three Rivers. These maps, for the unincorporated communities of the county, forecast where potential development might occur.
   In other county-related business, the Tulare County Planning Commission is currently considering a land-use ordinance that would make it legal to establish medical marijuana dispensaries in certain unincorporated communities including Three Rivers. A public hearing on the item is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 29.
   For more information on the Planning Commission or any county meeting, call the Tulare County Resource Management Agency, 733-6291.

District 1 supervisor

appointed TCAG board chairman

   If ever there was a time to steer funding toward Three Rivers and its transportation-related projects, that time is now. Recently, Allen Ishida, supervisor of District 1, was named chairman of the board of the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG).
   TCAG is responsible for prioritizing and developing local projects that qualify for transportation enhancement monies that are furnished by the federal government via Caltrans. The Three Rivers bike lane in the late-1990s was funded via TCAG and now more funding could be on the horizon.
   Supervisor Ishida is already talking about the need for a transportation center that could provide a Three Rivers stop for the new park shuttles (Visalia to Sequoia Park) that are scheduled to begin operating in 2007. If and when the facility is built remains the biggest unknown.

  “The area near the new Three Rivers Fire Station would be the ideal place to locate a shuttle stop/visitor center,” Ishida said.
   TCAG also released an expenditure plan for the half-cent transportation sales tax (Measure R) that is on the November 7 ballot. The plan outlines how much money might be generated by the sales tax and how it would be used for all Tulare County projects.
   The plan also details the formation of a citizens’ oversight committee and how that process will work. That committee will be charged with overseeing how funds are used and will report annually to the public.
   The first phase of projects outlined in the plan reflect those selected in the process of completing the agency’s Regional Transportation Plan.
   Three Rivers will directly benefit by improvements to the Spruce Road corridor, paving and resurfacing of more of the area’s county roads, and new bike lanes.
   If two-thirds of Tulare County’s voters support the November 7 initiative, funds would be collected beginning the first calendar quarter 110 days later. The Tulare County Transportation Authority would manage and allocate funds under the auspices of the citizens’ oversight committee.
   For a complete copy of the Expenditure Plan, log onto

Jack Slater dies suddenly

   For 14 years, Jack Slater has been landlocked Three Rivers’s seafaring sailor. Between fishing seasons, however, he would return to town with a haul of fresh seafood or, at the very least, captivating stories of a life on the open sea.
   Jack Slater unexpectedly died late in the evening on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006, on his boat that was docked in Astoria, Ore. He was 45.
Since 1992, Jack has been a resident of Three Rivers. This is where his family settled and his children were raised.
   Since he was 21 years old, Jack has been a commercial fisherman.
   He currently was the captain of a state-of-the-art albacore-tuna jig boat and spent months at a time on the vessel in the most remote locations on the planet, specifically the North Pacific from May to October and the South Pacific from December through March.
   Upon receiving the tragic news, Jack’s wife, Sue, and daughter Megan, 17, a senior at Woodlake High School, flew immediately to Astoria. Daughter Jaime, 18, who started her freshman year at Boston University in August, made the cross-country flight to join the family on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
   During two different seasons, Jack’s family had joined him on the boat. During these adventures, the girls — who would be the only children traveling with the fleet — were “boat-schooled” while accompanying Dad in his work each day and visiting dozens of exotic ports of call.
   In addition to his wife and daughters, Jack is survived by his mother, Janine Chilcott, who has resided in Three Rivers since 1987.

Local students and

their accomplishments

   PUNT, PASS & KICK— Sponsored by local dad David Lowe, who participated in this same event when he was young, the inaugural event had a lackluster turnout. But David still has high hopes that the athletic competition will become a local annual tradition as well as be sanctioned by the NFL.
   A dozen Three Rivers kids, in grades three through 10, braved the breezy conditions to participate. Although open to both boys and girls, just one girl, David’s daughter, Amanda, competed.
   These are the results:
   Grades 3-4 (boys)— 1st place, Eric Schwarz, 117 points; 2nd place, Thomas Woods, 97 points; 3rd place, Michael Howell, 61 points.
   Grades 5-6 (boys)— 1st place, Kenny Conover, 136 points; 2nd place, Phillip Woods, 120 points; 3rd place, Ezra Graber, 73 points.
   Grades 5-6 (girls)— 1st place, Amanda Lowe, 74 points.
   Grades 7-8 (boys)— 1st place, Curtis Beedle, 256 points; 2nd place, David Lowe, 165 points; 3rd place, Connor Beck, 159 points.
   Grade 9-10 (boys)— 1st place, Eric Lowe, 147 points.
   WHS BAND— On Saturday, Oct. 21, the Woodlake High School Tiger Marching Band and Colorguard competed in their first big field show competition: the Visalia Lions Band Competition.
   The band competed by performing their halftime field show in a category against three other bands. The WHS band was awarded first place for their efforts.

  “This was a great victory as Woodlake has not marched this kind of field show before,” said Bethanie Hansen, who is in her first year as band director at Woodlake High. “It involved moving around a lot on the field and memorizing four pieces of music.”
   Bethanie explained that the band began its preparations for the competition in August during a week-long band camp. The students continued rehearsing into the school year and also performed at Woodlake’s five home football games.
   This year’s field show is called “Secret Agent Man,” and includes the theme songs from Dragnet and For Your Eyes Only, as well as Secret Agent Man and Peter Gunn.
   Bethanie reported that there are 87 members in the band and colorguard this year.
   COLLEGE HONORS— Alyssum Root, who was raised in Three Rivers, was presented with the Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award from California State University, Chico. The award, which includes a $2,000 scholarship, is presented annually to students based on academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and professional accomplishments.
   Alyssum will graduate in Spring 2007 with her master’s degree in public administration.

Law officers

gaining on pot problem

   Seizures of pot plants are down this season in Tulare County by half and that might mean that local law officers are making headway in the war on marijuana cultivation. As of early October, sheriff’s deputies had removed 63,876 plants, mostly from the foothills in and around the national parks and Sequoia National Forest.
   Those totals might be adjusted slightly upward, but the local harvest season is rapidly coming to an end. The significantly lower totals come in the aftermath of record-setting years in 2004 and 2005.
   Marijuana plant removals are also down by nearly the same percentage in Sequoia National Park. NPS officials are attributing the decline to the gate on the Mineral King Road that was installed last year near Lookout Point.
   The most remote and best drainages are no longer accessible by vehicle and are just too difficult for foot traffic to sufficiently develop the gardens.
   Sheriff Bill Wittman said these growers, using Tulare County lands, work for powerful Mexican drug cartels. In the past three seasons, his office estimates that that the street value of local plants seized exceeds $3.6 billion.
   This month, Supervisor Allen Ishida was in Washington, D.C., to thank lawmakers for their support of Tulare County’s efforts in the war on pot.

  “I wanted to remind them that this isn’t a one-time problem,” Ishida said. “Besides a tremendous problem with marijuana cultivation, we have a lot of law-enforcement issues on federal lands.”
   Ishida said he is also concerned with other drug-related crimes and vandalism on federal lands in Tulare County, especially at the North Fork recreation sites. The Sheriff’s Department needs more funding to help do the job that needs to be done, he said.

Silver Prescribed Fire nears completion

   As of this week, the second phase of the Silver Prescribed Fire — so named because of its proximity to Silver City in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park — was ignited. The 354-acre burn, accomplished in two phases, began Tuesday, Oct. 10, with the first 190 acres located along the Mineral King Road between Highbridge Creek and the Mineral King area.
   The second phase consisted of the remaining 164 acres, which are located from Highbridge Creek to Silver City and between the Mineral King Road and the East Fork of the Kaweah River.
   The fire will be allowed to burn slowly until extinguished by rain or snow. Park fire crews will be onsite to patrol the burn.
   The Mineral King area is scheduled to close to the public on November 1. A gate at the park boundary near Lookout Point will remain closed and locked until the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.
   Last year, the gate was installed, about 10 miles from Highway 198, to deter illegal marijuana planting that had been rampant in the area in recent years.
   There is a second locked gate farther up the road at Camp Conifer.

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