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In the News - Friday, October 29, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

This photograph was submitted by a visitor to Lake Kaweah who spotted two males

field-dressing a deer just below the new Slick Rock boat ramp on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

The men weren’t witnessed killing the deer, however, the one on the left is dressed

in head-to-toe camouflage. On the portable ramp, located in the upper right quadrant

of the photo, are some tools used to work on the buck. The vehicle is a black Lexus

SUV; there also was a silver late-model Dodge pickup with a metal truck-bed toolbox

parked just out of the photo frame. Two young children accompanied the men.

Discharging any weapon in the Lake Kaweah basin is against the law as is processing

a carcass and leaving the entrails.

Three Whitney hikers rescued;

two more located


  It never fails. The first snowstorm of the season in the Sierra always catches someone off guard and, in this case, several someones.
The story of two missing parties of Mount Whitney hikers had happy endings last week as three men were airlifted off the peak; two other men turned up in Cedar Grove after hiking more than 50 miles from their intended itinerary.
   Three of the hikers — Philip Abraham, 34; Stevan Filips, 43; and Dale Clymens, 45; all from the Omaha, Neb. area, were rescued from Mount Whitney just after noon on Thursday, Oct. 21. The trio had planned a day hike to the Whitney summit on the previous Monday but they became stranded during a snowstorm in the Smithsonian Institute’s historic stone hut on top of the 14,500-foot peak — the highest in the Lower 48, located in Sequoia National Park.
   Three National Park Service searchers hiked in from the Crabtree Ranger station on Thursday morning and reached the stranded hikers about the same time as a California National Guard helicopter that arrived from the east side. The men appeared to be in generally good health.
   Two other hikers — Sina Sadeghi Baghsorkhi, 27, and his father, Abdolreza Sadeghi, 56, had planned a three-day, 36-mile, cross-country loop hike out of Whitney Portal. When the two men failed to return as planned, a search was conducted in the area.
   The men were discovered Friday, Oct. 22, when they hiked out at Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. No injuries were reported for either of the Iranian nationals.

Generals Highway road construction

continues into November

  In an effort to get the current stretch of the Generals Highway road construction in Sequoia National Park completed before any extended winter weather, a new schedule of delays and closures will go into effect beginning Monday, Nov. 1.
   For Mondays through Fridays, one-hour delays are expected from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Two-hour delays are anticipated on weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. with a scheduled pass-through every two hours beginning at 8 a.m.
   Half-hour delays are planned from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursdays. On Friday, construction ceases at 2 p.m. but that time is subject to change.
   Up to 20-minute delays may be anticipated on weekends and during night-shift changes as all traffic must follow signal lights. Signal lights are also in force during shift changes from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.
   The road will remain closed for night work from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. There is one opportunity to pass through the construction zone each weeknight at 11:30 p.m.
   The construction zone is a one-and-a-half-mile section of the Generals Highway between Amphitheater Point and Deer Ridge.
   For more information, call Dana Dierkes, Sequoia-Kings Canyon public information officer, 565-3131.

Oprah goes camping in Yosemite

  Today (October 29) will be the first in a two-part series on the Oprah show in which the mega-star and her best buddy Gayle King pull their tent trailer into Lower Pines Campground in Yosemite National Park and explore the world-famous sites of this popular playground.
   Park Ranger Shelton Johnson contacted Oprah with the idea that having her publicize a trip to the park would encourage more African Americans to also seek out this experience that, Shelton says, according to demographics, they do not do enough.
   Shelton, who has always been popular in his job as an interpretive ranger at Yosemite, became even more well-known due to his prominent role in Ken Burns’s 2009 documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. He, too, is African American and realizes that not only are there low numbers of black park visitors, but also not enough black rangers in the National Park Service.
   In early October, Oprah and Gayle spent two days and one night in and around Yosemite Valley. They met with Shelton, who led them through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias and pointed out the Yosemite landmarks as seen from Tunnel View.
   Shelton also joined them at their campsite one evening in his comprised role of Elizy Bowman, a Buffalo Soldier charged with protecting Yosemite at the turn of the century. Neighboring campers were invited to join them around the campfire to watch the re-enactment.
   Can you imagine? There you are, roasting a marshmallow over the coals and thinking the most exciting event that night would be watching the moon rise over Half Dome...
   Oprah and Gayle were also treated to a mule ride and a guided fly-fishing trip along the Merced River.
   According to Donna Sisson, branch chief for public involvement and outreach, Oprah’s entire stage set will be transformed into Oprah’s Lower Pines campsite, complete with pop-up trailer, fire pit, and the backdrop of El Capitan.

Teen violin virtuoso opens

Winter Concert Series

by Bill Haxton

  For reasons not entirely clear, the late 20th century watered down the traditional violin recital from heart-tugging, foot-stomping, mesmerizing virtuosity to a pleasant, usually pretty, musical experience that was all but free of performance risk. Satisfying, but not the kind of audience experience that left one shaking their head in disbelief about what they just witnessed.
   Things were different in the 19th century when violinists burst over the threshold of what was thought possible and competed to see who could write and play the most difficult but audience-pleasing violin compositions.
   And these compositions are risky. To pull it off, the violinist’s bow arm has to move at lightning speed with incredible precision, while the fingers of the other hand literally sprint up and down the neck of the violin like a crazed gymnast.
   So in a way, it’s understandable that a respected violinist wouldn’t want to jeopardize a reputation trying to perform a piece in public that demands every ounce of talent, experience, and attention with disaster looming at every note. It’s safer for the performers to stick with easier pieces.
   That ends on November 6. Mayumi Kanagawa has thrown off the restraints and is going to perform several of these crowd-pleasing but very difficult pieces written during the golden age of violin virtuosity.
   Her program opens with Jean-Marie Leclair’s Sonata in D Major, Opus 9 Number 3. In the last movement, listen for the excitement generated by multiple lines of melody.
   Leclair was one of the first European composers to look to other cultures for musical inspiration. So listen, too, for Russian overtones. You can almost see the Cossack kicking out one boot after the other.
Edvard Grieg’s Sonata No. 2 in G Major, Opus 13 is very Norwegian. There’s a reason.
   Grieg was a fierce nationalist living at a time when his country was forced into a humiliating annexation with Sweden. Along with a large number of Norwegian writers, artists, and philosophers, Grieg turned his massive talent toward creating music that would culturally unite his people. It’s a beautiful, moving composition and made Grieg a hero in Norway, where he is still revered.
   Following the intermission, the violin pyrotechnics take a leap forward with a Jascha Heifitz arrangement of George Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from Porgy and Bess. Heifitz was the best in the world at the time and it shows in the last half of this quintessentially American tune.
   From then until the end of the concert, it’s one amazing display of violin fireworks after another, ending with the impossibly acrobatic and hugely enjoyable Polonnaise Brillante by Henryk Wieniawski.
   This is how violin music was meant to be enjoyed — long lyrical passages of heart-tugging beauty alongside wild exuberance. It takes a special violinist to bring it all together. Mayumi Kanagawa does.
   Tickets are selling rapidly but are still available at Chump’s Videos and DVDs.
   Bill Haxton is a principal in Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute.

'Where the River Meets the Lake'

Dozens of Kaweah Country walkers and runners

participate in Lake Kaweah event

(Only in the print edition of The Kaweah Commonwealth:

Photo gallery of inaugural event)

  The inaugural 10K run/5K walk was so much fun last Saturday, Oct. 23, that the organizers are already looking forward to the next event that they hope to stage. Including volunteers and family-rooting sections, the 68 official participants were part of a large crowd that converged on the Slick Rock Recreation Area at Lake Kaweah for the start of an 8 a.m. fitness-promoting event. Just imagine where this event could be in 40 years, considering there were just 127 starters in the first New York City Marathon in 1970.
   The 5K walkers were escorted .35 miles down the ramp approach to the lake bottom trail for their start a few minutes after the runners started. Because the walkers finished their event at the same finish/start as the runners, they actually walked 3.5 miles (a 5K is actually 3.1 miles), and several admitted that it’s been awhile since they have walked that distance.
   But there was nary a complaint to be heard, although the lowest part of the scenic trail “where the river meets the lake” was a bit dusty and the timing in the walk event was not recorded. Lee Goldstein, who kept the watch for the 10K run, said that the situation for the walkers, both the distance and the timing, will be remedied for the next event.
   The first walker to cross the finish line was Robin Castro; Jana Botkin finished in second place not more than a few paces behind. Both of the top finishers live in Three Rivers and work out regularly.
In the 10K run (6.2 miles), Glenn Champagne, 49, who was raised in Three Rivers but now lives in Visalia, finished first overall with a time of 39.31. Brent Begin, 24, also of Visalia finished second at 41:50; while Michael Bauman, 53, another experienced Visalia runner, finished third 43.31.
   Stacie Villavicencio, 36, of Three Rivers was the top female finisher and fourth overall with a time of 48.32. Stacy Grinsfelder, 38, also of Three Rivers, who just completed the St. George Marathon earlier this month, was the second-place female finisher and fifth overall at 51.40. Carol Berryhill, 58, of Tulare, finished third among the women and sixth overall with a time of 53.47.
   There are many reasons one may choose to run or walk: to be with friends, for charity, to control weight, reduce stress, think more clearly, generally feel more positive about life, or all of the above.
   Tamara Dutro, who walked in the event, said that she thinks Three Rivers will support these events on a regular basis because this is such an active, fitness-oriented community.
   A total of 26 runners competed in the 10K while 42 walkers entered the 5K. Each participant received, or will receive soon, a customized commemorative event T-shirt.
   The race organizers realized that this inaugural event would include a learning curve. Future events will only get better.

  “The walkers were essential to the success of this charitable event, but they didn’t receive their final times, a glitch that will be eliminated at future events,” said John Elliott of The Kaweah Commonwealth, who took the sign-ups for the event. “The bottom line is that everyone who came out had a good experience and after we pay the expenses we will be able to make a generous donation to the Kaweah Post Office fund.”
   Elliott said the event at Lake Kaweah would not have happened without the cooperation and support of Phil Deffenbaugh, general manager at Lake Kaweah. Phil, along with his wife, also walked in the event and said he hopes that events like these will promote the public’s awareness of some of the recreation potential of the scenic Lake Kaweah basin in the off-season.

Exeter's newest mural unveiled

  Jana Botkin, a Three Rivers artist, completed her second Mineral King-themed mural in the city of Exeter last month. This new mural, Exeter’s 28th, is located on E Street, just down the street from her previous mural, completed in 2009. Entitled “Men + Mules + Water + Power,” the mural tells the story of Franklin Lake and the area’s dams. The artwork also contains seven hidden items that require extra scrutiny of the artwork to find.

Burn piles ignited in park and forest

  The large-scale prescribed burn projects have been shelved for the season, and lightning-ignited blazes won’t be an issue in the local mountains until next year’s dry season, so National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service fire personnel are busy doing some other clean-up chores.
   On Monday, Oct. 25, Sequoia National Park fire crews ignited 25 piles near the Red Fir Maintenance Facility, located just off the Generals Highway between Lodgepole and Wuksachi Village. The project was expected to be completed the same day.
   In addition, fire crews also completed a 37-acre thinning project south of the Lodgepole Campground with the goal to provide improved wildland fire protection for the developed Lodgepole area.
   In addition, forest personnel in Giant Sequoia National Monument burned 65 acres of piles near Hume Lake.

Bike donations requested

  Visalia Rescue Mission volunteer Jim Barnes is requesting new or used bike donations to help Visalia Rescue Mission program residents, as well as the general homeless population, with their transportation needs.
   The Visalia Rescue Mission is an emergency subsistence organization and has been for the past 30 years. Every day of the year, they serve three meals daily, which averages more than 500 meals per day to those in need.
   In 2009, the Mission served over 180,000 meals while always striving to meet the needs of each individual that comes to their door.
   Last year, the Visalia Rescue Mission received 56 bikes from generous donors. All bike donations are tax deductible.
   Call Jim Barnes to arrange the pick-up of a bicycle or to receive directions where to deliver a donation: 679-7071.
   For more about the Visalia Rescue Mission and its programs, visit www.visaliarescue.org.

Voters reminded of mailing deadlines

  California is one of a number of states that provide for “no excuse required” use of absentee ballots, making it easy and convenient for busy citizens to participate in elections through the vote-by-mail process.
   The U.S. Postal Service is encouraging voters to complete and mail their ballots early. Ballots must be delivered to the county Registrar of Voters on or before Tuesday, Nov. 2.
   Unlike tax returns, the postmark on the envelope does not determine eligibility for absentee ballots. Make sure your voice is heard and your vote is counted by mailing your ballot as soon as possible.
   Other tips for absentee voters: Sign the ballot; place completed ballot into the official envelope and follow all instructions; ensure proper first-class postage is affixed; mail ballot to ensure it is delivered on or before November 2.

Notice of Death

Clarice Hawthorne, 95, of Three Rivers died Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. A graveside service will be held at the Three Rivers Cemetery on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 1 pm.




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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