News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

In the News - Friday, november 10, 2006

The votes are in… almost

County road tax too close to call,

TRUS board has two new members,

state and federal incumbents reelected

   Tulare County’s Measure R received just enough votes at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7, to pass but its ultimate fate might depend on the more than 15,000 absentee and provisional votes that are still being counted.

  “Certifying the final vote totals in those races that are still too close to call could take up to 28 days,” said Hiley Wallis, Tulare County Elections manager.
   Wallis also said that the elections office would not be able to provide a final breakdown of precincts (such as how Three Rivers voted) at least until next week.
   In other local races of importance, both Republican incumbents Devin Nunes and Bill Maze were returned to the U.S. Congress and the State Assembly, respectively. Roy Ashburn, Bakersfield Republican and District 18’s State Senator, also won handily and was reelected for another term.
   In the four-candidate race for three seats on the Three Rivers Union School board, incumbent Bobbie Harris, Bob Burke, and Scott Sherwood were the top three finishers. Sherwood edged out candidate Art Ogawa by 60 votes.
   In the Woodlake race for the elementary school board, where again four candidates were vying for three seats, Debi Baker, Joe Hallmeyer, and Joe Martinez were victorious.
   In the race for Woodlake City Council, voters returned three incumbents: Frances Ortiz, Chuck Ray, and Raul Gonzales.
   In another local race where voters had to pick three out of four on the Sequoia Union School board in Lemon Cove, Rocky Garbarino, Bradley Ward, and Jenny Ayres were elected to serve.
Statewide, Jerry Brown, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, added to the Brown legend in California politics. The former two-term governor and current mayor of Oakland bested Chuck Poochigian, Fresno Republican, by the largest margin of any statewide candidate.
   Among the propositions approved were 1A: Transportation; 1B: Highway safety; 1C: Housing, shelter; 1D: Schools; 1E: Levee repair; Proposition 83: Restrict sex offenders; and Proposition 84: Parks and water.
   The other propositions including the cigarette tax (86) and restricting eminent domain (90) were among the controversial measures that were defeated. For Proposition 90, yes votes were predominant in California’s rural areas including Tulare County.

  “This is one time when we can than thank the cities around the state for helping our county,” said George Finney, Tulare County’s director of long-range planning.
   In what might prove to be a trend, with the election of Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond will become the largest city in America with a Green Party mayor.
   Nationally, the Democrats regained control of Congress. Nancy Pelosi, 66, a Democrat from San Francisco and former minority leader, will become the first woman Speaker of the House. Her stated priorities are to help end the war in Iraq, raise the minimum wage, and make stem cell research a federal priority.
   A more complete analysis of the Three Rivers precincts will be made available after the absentee and provisional votes are tallied.

Speed a factor in wreck

   When Armando Cano of Exeter left Three Rivers last Thursday afternoon (November 2), he did what many drivers do routinely. He approached the left-hand curve just beyond the entrance to the Slick Rock at a high rate of speed.
   A CHP officer at the scene estimated Cano, 21, was driving his 1990 Honda Accord westbound at 75 miles per hour when he lost control. After turning the vehicle back to the right in attempt to gain control Cano plunged off the embankment where he collided with a rock below the roadway.
   Cano, who was wearing a safety belt, was shaken but uninjured in the mishap. He was not arrested.
   A CHP spokesperson said that accidents like these on mountain roads are common and often result in fatalities. Motorists are strongly advised to slow down, observe all posted speed limits, and always wear a seatbelt.

Veterans, military free

at Sequoia-Kings Canyon

   On Saturday, Nov. 11, U.S. veterans, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families will be admitted free to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Giant Sequoia National Monument, as well as most public lands administered by the Department of the Interior (national parks and BLM) and Department of Agriculture (national forests). This is expected to become an annual tradition to honor members of the military.
   Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have a strong connection to the military, who acted as the first official caretakers of these national treasures. For many years, Cavalry troops inhabited the parks, protecting them, building infrastructure, and mapping many of the natural features.
   Also, the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park was proclaimed a National Shrine in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The official dedication was made 50 years ago this year on Veterans Day.
   The Grant Tree is the only living national shrine to the men and women of the U.S. who gave their lives in service to their country.

  “I invite everyone, especially our veterans and active military and their families, to visit the General Grant Tree this Veterans Day,” said Craig Axtell, Sequoia-Kings Canyon superintendent. “What better way to honor the sacrifice of our veterans than by visiting this national shrine.”
   For updated road and weather conditions in the local parks, call 565-3341.

Restaurant rekindles fond memories

Hummingbird Café now open

   If you have been frequent visitor or are a resident of Three Rivers, then it’s likely you have some fond memories of the Sierra Drive restaurant that recently reopened as The Hummingbird Café. The familiar riverside café has been a popular Three Rivers eatery since the 1940s and has made many friends and fans over the decades.
   New owner Jerrie Contreras, who with her husband Joe Vasquez acquired the property — formerly known as the Noisy Water Café and, more recently, Main Fork Bistro — this past summer from former owner Linda Osborn, said she fondly remembers coming to Three Rivers as a youngster with her grandparents.

  “In those days [1970s], our family was living in San Pedro and the highlight of our visits was coming up to Three Rivers with my grandfather who operated a service station in Farmersville,” recalled Jerrie. “To me, this place was always known as the ‘Hummingbird.’”
   Jerrie said she loved watching the river and the hummingbirds that were ever present around the feeders along the rear windows. She remembers an old-fashioned family atmosphere serving the comfort foods that we were all raised to know and enjoy.
   That, she said, is the spirit behind their newest business venture. It was a curious turn of events that made it all happen.
   Jerrie, who is also a commercial loan processor, said they were very close to buying the Loading Chute in their hometown of Woodlake when one of the patrons of that neighborhood tavern told them that the “old Noisy Water” in Three Rivers had recently closed and was on the market.

  “We took a look at the property and immediately saw the potential of the place,” Jerrie said.
   Although Jerrie has some experience working in restaurants, she admits that both she and Joe have a lot to learn. To manage the kitchen, they hired Antoinette Cloutier of Three Rivers as chef, who, according to Jerrie, has been a pillar of strength in getting the place up and running.
   The new Hummingbird has opened gradually with a limited but adequate menu as Jerrie and Joe fine-tune things and get to know the clientele. Last Sunday, their first big morning, they served more than 100 breakfasts with one party of 30.

  “The response has been great,” Jerrie said.” Everyone has been very patient and friendly. Our family and all our friends love coming here to Three Rivers. It’s been really a wonderful experience getting the restaurant up and running.”
   Jerrie said this is only the beginning. New menu items and more healthy cuisine will be added in the coming weeks as they find out just what Three Rivers likes to order. They will be able to start serving beer and wine as of this weekend.
   The current dinner menu features steaks, chicken, salads, and pastas. Lunch features an array of burgers, a portobello sandwich or salad, homemade soups, and a classic BLT. Breakfast favorites include a chili-cheese omelet, eggs Benedict, and steak and eggs.
   The Hummingbird Cafe is open daily 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner (on Monday nights, they don’t serve dinner). They are currently taking reservations for Thanksgiving. To make a reservation, place a take-out order, or for more information, call 561-0140.

It’s application time

How to select a college

by Sally Pace

   November 30 is the deadline for college applications to the University of California and California State University systems. Private universities have individual deadlines ranging from December to February.
   The community colleges system will start accepting applications later in the spring. If you or your child is a senior in high school this can be a very stressful time because the college-admission process has become so competitive.
   Students should start thinking about where they want to go to college as early as middle school so they will have all their options open when the time comes to submit applications. If a student has taken the most academically rigorous classes they can handle as well as having a well-rounded high school experience, they should be ready for college.
   After going through this college application process with my own children and working with students for the past 20 years as a counselor, I have some advice to help make the process a little less stressful.
   Apply to at least four colleges, one college that you are sure to get into (check out the academic index for each college at or, one college that is a long shot or a big dream, and two others in which you are interested.
   Don’t limit the number of colleges due to the cost of applying. Consider the application fee an “insurance policy” for you and your child’s mental health in May when they have to make a decision about which college to attend. I have seen too many very bright students not get into the only college they applied to and go over the edge when their friends have decisions to make and their only choice is the local community college.
   Every student, no matter how sure they are that they will be going away to college, should apply to College of the Sequoias. This is another insurance policy to make sure they have a place in college in the fall.
   Don’t limit the college application process because a school seems too expensive. Make the money decisions later in the year when you are figuring out what you can really afford after the schools have sent you a financial aid package.
   Consider the college application process a little like dating. The colleges you are looking at are the ones you would like to “marry” for four or more years. Before taking the final plunge, you need to visit the college at least twice, if possible, once with the whole family on Preview Day or some other big event and once during the regular school year when school is in session.
   Make sure you let your child visit the campus with his peers and give them some time to just walk around campus, visit some classes, and see the dorm rooms.
   It is really important to give students time to decide for themselves what the best place is for them to go to school. Every campus has a different personality and it is very important that your child feels comfortable on that campus.
   My parental advice is do not get too excited about where your student wants to go or it may push them in the opposite direction. Making the adjustment to college is difficult, and if your child has made the decision themselves it will make that transition easier.
   Every college gives their own scholarships and this is the time to apply. The dates vary at each college so you will need to check out each individual website to check dates.
   The UC system has the scholarship application in the admissions application. Private colleges often use this system also but you will need to check each school individually.
   Each school will send a financial aid package starting as early as February, depending on when you file your FAFSA... I will get into financial aid and scholarships in another article.
   Sally Pace retired in June 2006 after more than 30 years at Woodlake High School, where for the past two decades she oversaw the counseling office.

Carl Pitts
1926 ~ 2006

   Carl Pitts, a teacher, author, and psychologist, whose work centered on communication and cooperation, died Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, at his home in Three Rivers.
   Carl was born in 1926 to Nancy and Ernie Pitts in St. Louis, Mo. In high school, Carl was an athlete — a football quarterback — and a choral singer. When he was a high school sophomore, World War II began, and Carl joined the U.S. Navy upon graduation.
   During his time with the Navy, he was sent to San Diego for training. It was love at first sight between Carl and California, his future home. After the war, Carl used the GI Bill to fulfill his dream of college.
   He went to Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., during the time of Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech, calling on the world to defend ordinary people against the costs of war and tyranny. Later, Carl transferred to Washington University and graduated with a degree in English literature.
   In 1951, Carl married Joann Payne, also from St. Louis. They had three children: Janna, Andrew, and Murray.
   Carl attended divinity school at Chicago University, later becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. The ministry did not become his life’s work, but he used his ordination to perform the marriage ceremony for a few close friends and his oldest son, Andrew, in 1998. He would tell the wedding guests that commitment wasn’t about staying in love every minute, but learning to fall back in love.
   One of Carl’s early jobs was recruiting counselors for American Youth Foundation’s summer camps, a job he loved. But when he recruited a promising young African American man in the years before the nation’s Civil Rights movement, Carl was fired.
   It was a crushing blow. But Donald Danforth, the head of the organization supporting the camp, apologized for his dismissal and offered Carl a Danforth Fellowship that allowed him to return to school. He completed a Master’s in education and a Ph.D. in psychology and education psychology at Washington University.
Carl’s first teaching position was at Webster College in St. Louis, where he became chair of the Social/Behavioral Department. It was a small, liberal campus that fostered close friendships in the thick of the social change of the early 1960s.
   Later, Carl would refer to those seven years as “our own Camelot.” Other teaching positions included United States International University, Department of Psychology (San Diego), and California School for Professional Psychology, Section Head (San Diego).
   Later, he became a business consultant, developing training programs for clients ranging from General Electric’s aerospace division to Citibank in Asia Pacific, work that required him to travel the globe and navigate tense countries such as Pakistan.
   In 1983, Carl married Cristine Carpenter. In 2003, the couple, seeking a more peaceful lifestyle closer to the natural world, sold their San Diego home and moved to Three Rivers.
   While here, Carl, a classical music lover, founded “Maestro for an Evening,” a group of eight fellow aficionados who met once a month to share favorite music selections. Deeply troubled by the war in Iraq, Carl also helped form a Three Rivers political group working for a change in U.S. leadership.
   A sailor, Carl loved the ocean. He also loved the Sierra foothills.
In his final days, he reveled in the dazzling orange and red autumn leaves of a tree he could see from his balcony. He enjoyed playing golf at the Three Rivers Golf Course and was known among his friends and family for his love of Cherry Garcia ice cream.
   He liked to work with his hands, launching many woodworking projects. He delighted in creating elaborate train layouts. His latest was the fictional town of Pook, Iowa, populated by townsfolk with individual histories.
   But, most of all, Carl appreciated the people around him. He had a passionate and true interest in conversation and understanding.
Goodwill framed his life and he emanated kindness, optimism, integrity, and intelligence.
   Carl will be missed and remembered with gratitude by his wife, Cristine Carpenter of Three Rivers; his children, Janna Peterson of Westfield, N.J., Andrew Pitts of San Diego, and Murray Pitts of Morongo Valley; his grandchildren, David, 14, and Kelly, 9, of Rome, Italy; and his many friends.
   A private celebration of life will be held in Three Rivers in mid-November.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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