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In the News - Friday, November 12, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)





A photo gallery of personalized license plates

with outdoor and recreational themes

Rainfall makes auspicious debut

   As incredible as it might seem, Kaweah Country is already ahead of last year in rainfall when compared to a 2009-2010 season that ended 130 percent above the norm. That’s because last fall it rained early and often in October but there was nary a trace in November except for .38 of an inch on November 27.
   After that Thanksgiving storm, no significant rainfall was recorded until December 7, 2009. But that was then, and now the environs of Three Rivers have already recorded a series of intermittent rains, bringing the season total as of Veterans Day, Nov. 11, to 2.92 inches.
For the same date in 2009, local rain gauges had recorded somewhat less: 2.43 inches.
   That’s good news to all weather watchers who are already expecting less rain in the 2010-2011 season based on the forecast of a deepening La Nina. A La Nina means that water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are two to three degrees below those of a typically wetter (for California) El Nino year.
   Even a degree or two in temperature change can mean the difference from a wet year to a dry one. A typical La Nina, especially when it follows an El Nino, usually calls for cool, drier conditions.
   Elevations above 7,500 feet already have received a dusting of snow. As of yesterday, the Mineral King valley was cloaked in two inches of the white stuff.
   The Farewell Gap weather station at 9,500 feet in the upper Kaweah drainage was also showing two inches of snow on the ground.   Yesterday at mid-morning, temperatures were in the teens, so in the higher elevations Old Man Winter is already settling in for the season.
   Sequoia and Kings Canyon park rangers recently implemented chain requirements but they were lifted later that same day. The highway between the parks was closed for a day due to snowfall.
   Park visitors should call ahead 565-3341 for the latest road conditions and weather advisories. Mountain travelers should also carry tire chains and be prepared for winter conditions.
   Last season, December was a whopper of a month relative to rainfall totals. By January 1, 2010, there were nearly 10 inches of rainfall on the books, depending on elevation, and a snow pack already in place.
   Will the current season approach last year’s wet and healthy rainfall totals?
   It’s far too early to tell, but for now be prepared and expect the unexpected.

Totally Bazaar

Three Rivers Senior League

offers one-stop holiday shopping

By Brian Rothhammer

   Holiday shopping is upon us. With the change of seasons comes the usual barrage of catalogs, catchy TV jingles for mega-store sales, and boatloads of goods from overseas.
   What if your gift-giving taste leans toward unique, locally made items from Kaweah Country artisans? How about supporting a local organization that has donated thousands of handmade quilts to hospitalized children over the years?
   The 25th annual Three Rivers Senior League Holiday Arts & Crafts Bazaar takes place Saturday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. The Bazaar offers a great opportunity to peruse finely crafted wares from 50 different vendor tables, all conveniently assembled at one place.
   Choose from Carl Powell’s old-time wooden toys, nutcrackers hand-carved and painted by Howard Hill, Rod Simonian jewelry, pottery by Scott Vaughn, and a cornucopia of other gift ideas to warm the hearts of friends and family. Meet the artists in person and sense the pride of craftsmanship that cannot be found in mass produced, machine-made products.
   Bring your appetite, as hot dogs and burgers will be grilled up fresh and tasty. There will be other goodies to please the palate as well, with the Senior League’s bake sale table, Janet Fanning’s homemade jams, jellies, and fudge, and more.
   If you have a few too many things around the house that others may enjoy, consider bringing donations for the “Oldies but Goodies” table, a sort of indoor yard sale to support the League. There will also be door prizes given away throughout the day and an auction with goods donated from each of the 50 artist/vendors present.
   What a deal! One-stop shopping for quality gifts, tasty treats, supporting a good cause, and even the option to clear out some unneeded items for others to enjoy.
   If you’re an artist or crafts person and would like to offer your wares at the event, act fast as over 40 of the 50 booths are spoken for already. For details or to join the Three Rivers Senior League or make donations, call Janet Fanning, 561-3461.

‘Three Cups of Tea’ author

on his way to Visalia

‘Dr. Greg’ Mortenson is on a mission

   Okay, so Greg Mortenson is not officially a doctor but he is a registered nurse who, during his more than 71 months in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan, has treated dozens of the sick when no doctor could be located within hundreds of miles. But the former mountaineer is best known for his life’s work as a co-founder and now being the enormous public presence of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute.
   Since 1995, Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute has established (at last count) 141 schools and another five dozen temporary refugee schools in the some of the world’s most dangerous places in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.
   This bestselling author and champion peacemaker brings his road show to the Visalia Convention Center this Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. Billed as “An evening with Greg Mortenson,” the event is a fundraiser for Pro-Youth/HEART of Visalia.
   Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, a book that Mortenson co-authored with David Oliver Relin, is the autobiographical account of a man who wanted to make a difference in the lives of Muslim children in some of the world’s most remote and impoverished villages.

  “When you educate a boy you educate an individual,” Mortenson said. “When you educate a girl, you educate a community.”
   To date, Three Cups of Tea has sold over four million copies, been published in 45 countries, and been a New York Times bestseller for over 186 weeks since its release in 2007. The landmark book is mandatory reading for all U.S. military commanders and Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan.
   Several bipartisan U.S. Congressional representatives, including California’s Mary Bono, have nominated Mortenson for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2009 and 2010. Mortenson’s newest book, Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books Not Bombs was released in 2009.
   Mortenson’s books will be available at the Visalia event, and “Dr. Greg” will graciously allow some time for book signing. The latest figures from the new book estimate that Mortenson has been instrumental in the education of 64,000 children, including 52,000 girls, all where few education opportunities had existed before.

Education is the family legacy
   Both of Greg Mortenson’s parents and all four of his grandparents were educators or teachers. Greg was born in 1957 and grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
   His father, Dempsey, founded Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, a hospital, and his mother, Jerene, founded the International School Moshi in Tanzania.
   After the family returned home to Minnesota, Greg joined the U.S. Army in 1977. After mustering out with an Army Commendation Medal, he graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1983 with degrees in Chemistry and Nursing.
   In July 1992, Mortenson’s sister, Christa, died from a massive seizure following a life-long struggle with epilepsy. To honor his sister’s memory, in 1993, Mortenson attempted to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain in the Karakoram Range.
   While recovering from the ordeal in a Pakistani village called Korphe, Mortenson met a group of children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand. At that moment, he promised these children to help them build a school.
   From that ambitious promise grew a huge humanitarian campaign to which Mortenson has dedicated his life to educate children, especially girls, in the most remote villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan. His work has never been without life-threatening danger.
   Mortenson has survived a Taliban kidnapping and escaped fire fights between feuding warlords. He has succeeded despite two fatwas (an Islamic religious law vendetta) from enraged mullahs, and harassing CIA probes. He received numerous death threats after 9/11 for his ongoing relations with Muslim children to help them break the vicious cycle of hopelessness.
   In October 2009, Three Rivers school kids and local community groups collected more than 35,000 pennies for Mortenson’s Pennies for Peace program. Julia Bergman, a former librarian at San Francisco City College and former Central Asia Institute board member, gave a talk at Three Rivers School to provide a glimpse to local children what it is like to grow up in Afghanistan.
   Maria Howell, a TRUS parent and niece of Julia Bergman, arranged to have the local presentation.

  “I was a little nervous about how the kids might react to the Three Cups of Tea story,” said Maria, “but all of the kids remained quiet and paid very close attention.”
   Mesmerized by the amazing accomplishments of Dr. Greg and his Central Asia Institute and learning how kids have to grow up in a war zone might be a more accurate description of the experience. Sonja Hoogeveen, the Three Rivers librarian, reported lots of search activity on county computers related to Mortenson immediately after and since Three Cups of Tea made its local debut.
   In concert with Mortenson’s visit on Tuesday, Nov. 16, a number of Visalia area schools are collecting pennies, including College of the Sequoias.

  “There is a group of Three Rivers parents, teachers, kids and other locals who are going down to experience this incredible event,” said Maria. “I can’t think of a better way to show our support for Greg Mortenson and for promoting books not bombs.”
   HEART — meaning Homework, Enrichment, Acceleration, Recreation, Teamwork — is an afterschool program of Pro Youth, a 501(c)(3), and is the organization that is presenting an Evening with Greg Mortenson. For more information, log on to: www.proyouthheart.org


The ‘C’ words

By Jana Botkin

   Two of the most common ways to earn a living in art are consignment and commissions. They are not at all the same, but I am discussing them here in the same article because those two large “C” words are often confused.
   Here are the definitions: Consignment is an agreement to pay a supplier of goods after the goods are sold. Commission is an order or authorization for the production of a piece of art.
   Consignment means that the artist provides the store or gallery with work that is not paid for until a sale is completed. The advantages to the artist are that she doesn’t lose control of her pricing and can reclaim her work if it is needed somewhere else. The disadvantage is that things can become shopworn, keeping track is added work, and sometimes it can be hard to collect one’s money.
   Commissions are orders for custom work. This is a very important part of earning a living as an artist, especially in times when people are spending cautiously. The advantages to the artist are that she is almost guaranteed a happy customer and there is a check waiting at the end of the job. Two disadvantages are that the artist isn’t freely creating from her own ideas and often there is a deadline.   Occasionally, a commission customer will say these magic words: “You’re the professional!” and “No hurry.”
   Since we are learning “C” words here, allow me to add one more: Conversation. This word means an exchange of words, not orders and not money. Despite repeated experiences with this reality, my greatest talent still remains counting my chickens before they hatch.
   For the first several years of my business, I got so excited when someone told me they would like me to do a specific drawing for them. I was counting eggs, chickens, and dollars, forgetting that until money exchanges hands and there are photographs on the table, it was simply CONVERSATION. It never hurts for an artist to remember those chats and even follow up with a phone call or an email. That is also part of the business of art.
   Jana Botkin owns Cabinart studio in Three Rivers. She will participate in the Perfect Gift Boutique during Thanksgiving weekend.


June Maze
1921 ~ 2010

   June L. Maze passed away Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, at her home in rural Exeter. She was 89.
   June was born January 16, 1921, in Lemoore, the daughter of William and Golda Hengst. She attended Locust Grove and Wilson elementary schools and graduated from Exeter Union High School in 1939.
   In 1941, June married Everett Maze. The couple raised five children.
   June was an avid seamstress. As a young woman, she designed and sewed her own clothing. Later, she enjoyed sewing for her children and grandchildren. June also loved drawing and painting and collecting dolls, making dolls, repairing dolls, and sewing clothes for dolls.
   June spent summers camping with her parents and siblings in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park and at Atwell Mill near Mineral King. When she had children of her own, she enjoyed taking them to the mountains. She also cherished her time spent in Three Rivers with her sisters at luncheons, birthdays, and other family celebrations and get-togethers.
   June was active in Rebekah Lodge of Exeter, 4-H Club, and was a lifelong member of Modern Woodmen.
   June was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, Everett; her brother-in-law Alan Ewen; her parents; sons-in-law Buck Phillips and Henry Huff; and great-great-granddaughter Bennah Moses.
   She is survived by her children, Claudia Huff of Crestline, Donna Phillips of Windsor, Pamela Pyle and husband Jim of Exeter, Bill Maze and wife Becky of Visalia, and John Maze and wife Marti of Exeter; four sisters, including Margie Ewen and Wilma Kauling and husband Robin of Three Rivers; 18 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; 10 great-great-granchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. She will also be greatly missed by her “fourth daughter,” Joan Vehrs of Exeter, who has been considered a part of the family since 1955.
   Services were held Friday, Nov. 5, at Smith Family Chapel in Exeter.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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