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In the News - Friday, November 1, 2013




County funds Sequoia Park promotion


   After businesses in Three Rivers suffered a huge economic hit as result of the October government shutdown, somebody had to do something to provide some relief. The relief came in the form of $2,500 seed money that the Tulare County Board of Supervisors authorized for a web ad campaign on the Los Angeles Times website.
    The ad was developed as a cooperative venture between the county Economic Development Office and Sequoia National Park officials. Superintendent Woody Smeck and Ash Mountain staff helped create the ad campaign.
    According to Eric Coyne, the county’s tourism manager, the ad — “Escape to Sequoia National Park” — will go live Saturday, Nov. 2, on the L.A. Times and Sequoia Park websites.
    “We chose the L.A. Times website because the target audience of thousands of potential visitors is only a tank of gas away,” said Coyne, who negotiated the placement of the ad.     “The Sequoia ad will be positioned on at least four locales on the Times site, including ‘Local News,’ the most visited page.”
    Coyne said how long the ad runs will be determined by the actual clicks on the ad on where it appears on the LA Times website. Pay-per-click ads routinely cost $48 to $50 per one thousand clicks on the high-traffic site.
    “I was able to negotiate $9 per thousand clicks so that could translate into several hundred thousand clicks by potential Sequoia Park visitors,” Coyne said.
    Once the web visitor clicks on the ad, the user is redirected to the official Sequoia National Park website. A red icon on Sequoia’s home page attracts the site visitor’s attention to then click on the “Plan Your Visit” feature. In a negotiated agreement between the County and park officials, Sequoia’s website will direct the site visitor to gateway resources like lodging and restaurants through other area websites like those of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce (Three Rivers) and the Sequoia Tourism Council.
    Woody Smeck previously said that Sequoia Park officials were already making plans for a tourism promotion when the government shutdown occurred. And at the October Three Rivers town meeting, Supervisor Ishida pledged to seek some relief for local businesses.
Dennis Villavicencio, a local business owner who organized a protest of the government shutdown, called the $2,500 ad campaign a “token gesture.”
    “It’s a step in the right direction, and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Villavicencio said. “The park is genuinely trying to cooperate with the Three Rivers community, and I’m encouraged by their efforts.”

Acting sheriff to address town meeting

    The Three Rivers Town Hall meeting reconvenes Monday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. At the top of the agenda will be remarks by Mike Boudreaux, acting Tulare County Sheriff-Coroner, filling in for Sheriff Bill Wittman who is on medical leave.
    Boudreaux, who was serving as undersheriff, is well acquainted with Three Rivers and the foothills. For several years prior to his appointment as second in command of the department, Boudreaux was the SWAT task force commander and raided numerous cartel-managed marijuana grow sites around Three Rivers.
    Boudreaux will also introduce Robin Skiles, captain of the Sheriff’s Department patrol division, to address any response-related issues. There remains local concern after this past summer’s deadly violence in Three Rivers as to adequate coverage, most notably during the days’ off of resident deputy Scott Doyle.
    Following the public safety discussion will be a presentation by Ben Kimball, deputy director of TCAG (Tulare County Association of Governments). Kimball is the principal for the agency’s Regional Transportation Plan.
    The plan, which is reviewed every four years, is a guide for transportation in Tulare County for the next 40 years. Kimball and his staff have prepared an informative multimedia presentation to explain four possible scenarios for the future of the county’s transportation.
    In addition to traffic circulation, bus routes, shuttles, trains, and planes, there are mandates to develop bicycle trails in the context of creating sustainable communities.
    “The audience gets to choose among the transportation scenarios and identify elements that would be critical for the future of transportation in Three Rivers and eastern Tulare County,” Kimball said. “Locals should enjoy this part of the program and let us know what they are thinking.”
    A spokesperson from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be in attendance to update the latest parks news. Announcements related to the local national parks will include the upcoming fee-free weekend and an update on the closing dates for certain roads, areas, and facilities, and new winter hours for some visitor centers.
    The monthly meeting is sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation.
Information: 561-3204.

Photo captions: Bravo Lake at sunrise

   When temperatures drop in the northern part of the continent, waterfowl and other birds take flight, leaving their breeding grounds to head for warmer climates such as California and parts south, even traveling as far as Mexico and Central America. Ducks, geese, and swans have already begun arriving at Bravo Lake and other local waterways to overwinter. They will stay until late February or early March. Each species follows a migration pattern through the Central Valley, along the coast, or on the Sierra’s east side. These routes are collectively referred to as the Pacific Flyway. Local reservoirs, lakes, rivers, marshes, estuaries, and other wetlands are important to conserve to ensure habitat is always available for these long-distance travelers.
    PHOTO 1: Pelicans and Canada geese at Bravo Lake in Woodlake.
    PHOTO 2: Sunrise over the Sierra brings morning light to Bravo Lake following this week’s storm.
    PHOTO 3: A great blue heron, a year-round resident, wades in the shallows of Bravo Lake while hunting for a breakfast of fresh fish.

3R meeting provides Affordable Care Act facts

   With the Healthcare.gov website failures getting all the attention lately, several dozen Three Rivers folks met Tuesday, Oct. 29, to try to clear up some misinformation surrounding the current phase of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The meeting was jointly sponsored by the Three Rivers Emergency Aid Alliance and Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce and held at the Memorial Building.
    It was clear there remains lots of confusion of who is covered for what and how much it will cost. What is certain is that since the landmark legislation was passed in 2010, healthcare in the U.S. is headed for some big changes.
    According to Elida Magana, a certified Covered California educator with United Way and the program’s first speaker, there are really two key areas that everyone needs to understand.
  “There are four tiers of benefits and the higher the tier the more benefits are paid and the lower the deductibles and co-pays,” said Magana. “The other key area is to determine the level of financial support.”
    Magana explained that once a person has determined their financial contribution and if they qualify for a subsidy, then it’s time to check the policy options in the Covered California marketplace. Rural areas like Tulare County have less options than larger cities where more providers are concentrated.
    Among the best changes in the ACA, Magana said, are that under new policies that take effect in 2014, there are no annual or lifetime limits that would cap benefits. A critical cornerstone of any policy is the removal of benefit caps, especially in those that now must cover pre-existing conditions.
    “Insurance companies can no longer drop you if you get sick,” Magana said.
    And they can’t charge a higher rate for those who already have some type of illness.
Donna May, who works for Family HealthCare Network, followed Magana and brought up on the video screen a simulated version of the Covered California website. She took the audience on a tour of the website, pointing out the various places to click.
    May reiterated that the ACA is income based. Young people in entry level jobs, who are now required to have health insurance but have never had a policy, could benefit the most because many will qualify for subsidies to pay for their policies.
    The caveat in the ACA is getting young people used to being a part of the healthcare system that could in the long term lead to a change in the culture. The ACA covers preventive care, May said, so theoretically these young people with access to benefits will live healthier lives.
    Rick Lafferty, a local insurance broker with more than two decades of professional experience, said the insurance companies are taking a wait-and-see approach. Like everybody else, they are wondering how this is all going to work out and who will pay for it.
  “If anybody tells you they are an expert in the Affordable Care Act, don’t believe it for a minute,” Lafferty said. “We are all learning about this new health care together.”
    Lafferty also said anyone is welcome to visit his office in the Sierra Real Estate complex, and he will search the Covered California site and explain some of how the system works.
  “There is no charge for searching the website,” Lafferty said
    Janene Lasswell, who helped organize the Covered California forum on behalf of the Emergency Aid Alliance, said she thought Tuesday’s program featured a helpful exchange of information and answered some questions.
  “Hopefully, we can meet again in November and learn more about what’s next,” Lasswell said.

Covered California: Ways to enroll

Online: www.coveredca.com

By phone: (800) 300-1506

Paper application:

Available in pdf at www.coveredca.com

In person:

Covered California certified enrollment counselor

In person:

Covered California certified insurance agent

Winter Concert Series 2013-2014

kicks off with ‘Black Tie Tailgate Party’

   Okay, folks, it’s time to dress up and go low for the first annual Performing Arts Opening Night Tailgate Party. (Whoa! There’s an acronym you should jaywalk to avoid.)
    It’s black tie for the men and gowns for the women, combined with lawn chairs, ice chests, and portable barbecues. Straw hats are optional but if it’s cold you might want to consider snowmobile boots.
    If you don’t have formal wear, dress your best and that will be good enough. By the way, there’s a prize for the best setup. Rose Bowl-type floats are allowed.
    Opening Night this year falls on Saturday, Nov. 16, and features the Best of Colburn, which is rapidly gaining stature as a launching pad for great talent. Previous musicians who have performed here have gone on to win major national and international competitions and one, Francesca de Pasquale, was recently handpicked by Itzhak Perlman to be his primary teaching assistant at Juilliard.
    The remainder of the concert season pushes out our horizons with some new genre. In December, we present a one-man Walt Whitman show 10 years in the making.
    In January, the charismatic and incomparable Danielle Belen returns for a solo performance.
    In February, the nationally acclaimed “duoW” shows up with their bright and innovative approach to the classics.
    In March, it’s the meteoric Calidore String Quartet, already well along the road to greatness and recently picked up by North America’s premier artist management firm.
    The April concert closes the season with an exciting interplay of jazz and classical.
    That said, here are the rules for the Tailgate Party:
    —Any vehicle is allowed, even a motorcycle or a semi (if you can get it into the parking lot).
    —No limit to the number of people per vehicle; call all your friends.
    —If you are having alcohol, use the Memorial Building parking lot; if not, park at the Presbyterian Church.
    —Vegetarians and vegans will not be penalized but barbecued tofu will not be judged in the same category as slathered baby back pork ribs.
    —Judging will be based on the complexity and wildness of your menu and dining setup.
    —Extra credit may be awarded for setups that suggest the Periclean Symposium or other classical theme, but no demerits will be applied to any setup suggesting the questionable asceticism of the Romanesque monastery.
    You get the idea: pick a theme and go for broke.
    The concert begins at 7 p.m. and we start on time. Make sure you have plenty of time to set up for the Tailgate Party and break down to get a good seat inside. Judging will take place at 6 p.m.
    Season tickets are now available at Chump’s DVDs and also online at www.threeriversperformingarts.org. See the Kaweah Kalendar “Winter Concert Series” listing on page 12 for prices and discounts.

Notice of Death

Valerie McKay
1946 ~ 2013

    Valerie Ann McKay died Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. She was 67.
    Valerie was a ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Kaweah where she oversaw the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center and also had coordinated Public Lands Day.
    She is survived by three children; nine grandchildren; her mother, Iris McKay; and brother Gary McKay.
    A memorial service was held last month in Sanger.

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EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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