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In the News - Friday, November 20, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Made in Three Rivers


Stollen bread is Kaweah Country tradition


By Brian Rothhammer


  Every year just before Thanksgiving, things get very busy at Reimer's Candies and Gifts in Three Rivers. The summer ice cream rush has subsided, but in its place the holiday season brings a flurry of activity.

Locals and visitors flock to Reimer's for the unique selection of gifts, holiday decorations, candies, and freshly made ice cream. But for many there is another very special reason that only comes with the season — stollen bread.

  The gift of a stollen bread, or Christollen, to family or friends at Christmastime is an old world Saxon tradition dating back to the 15th century. The city of Dresden , Germany (the capital of Saxony ), holds an annual stollen festival that began in 1730.

  At the original festival, a stollen loaf weighing an estimated 1.8 tons was cut with a five-foot knife and served to a party of 24,000 guests. A special oven was built just to bake it. For the festival in 2000 a world record 4.2-ton stollen was featured.

  As most people seldom serve 24,000 guests, Reimer's bakes their stollen bread in their Three Rivers ovens in ample, yet sensible three-pound loaves or with one-half pound of freshly made marzipan added. They use the Reimer family Weihnachten, or Christmas stollen recipe, which dates from 1812, and is meticulously prepared.

  Attention to authentic detail and uncompromising quality are hallmarks of the Reimer's recipe. Reimer's ships stollen bread to customers of all faiths and as far away as Canada, Japan, Australia, England, France, Venezuela, and even to Germany .

  Enter the store and smell the rich aroma of fresh-baked stollen. Sweet yeast dough, German Christmas spices, candied fruits, and other ingredients combine to bring about a symphony of carefully balanced flavors. Dusted with confectioner's sugar and gift packaged, each loaf makes for a festive holiday presentation.

  “We bake our wonderful stollen loaves with care, and the intention is that your family and friends will enjoy this delicacy that dates back hundreds of years,” said Lynn Bretz, who owns Reimer's Candies and Gifts with his wife Mary Anne. “Enjoying stollen is a custom that has brought joy and meaning to many holiday celebrations. We would be honored to have your family make Reimer's loaves a part of your tradition.”

  The Old World treat is only baked for a limited time and only 2,000 loaves are made.

  Last year, their website www.stollenbread.com was the number one hit for both Yahoo and Google searches for the keyword stollen.

  The stollen loaves, along with their exceptional handmade candies and ice cream are also available at Reimer's seaside location at 324 Front Street in Avila Beach .

  Another holiday favorite, cinnamon ice cream will also be available for a limited time beginning Wednesday, Nov. 25.


Burn permits now available


  With the annual end to the local fire season, Cal Fire began to issue burn permits for Three Rivers and foothills residents last week. The hazard-reduction burning program began officially on November 17 but permission to burn is subject to air quality restrictions, and users are only permitted to burn after checking daily regional conditions and area weather updates.

  Information on the permit paperwork explains which days and what times are appropriate to light local burn piles. When residents follow instructions, the hazard-reduction program can yield some good results.

  Paul Marquez, a Tulare Unit battalion chief with Cal Fire, said recently that local property owners have been doing an outstanding job in the creation of more defensible space. The current state mandate is for at least 100 feet of clearance around all structures.

  In a wildland-fire zone like Three Rivers it is actually the individual property owners who do the necessary clearance work that dictate whether firefighters can save a given structure in the event of an emergency. Weeds, dry vegetation, and tree trimmings may all be disposed of as a part of the program.

  “There is no such thing as doing to much to prevent a fire emergency from becoming a tragedy,” said Chief Marquez.

  The permits are available at the self-serve kiosk at the Cal Fire station in Three Rivers, located on Sierra Drive adjacent to Valley Oak Credit Union.

  For more information, call Cal Fire headquarters in Visalia at 732-5954.


Wood ‘N' Horse ‘N' Rose Parade

  If you have been a spectator at a parade somewhere in California in the past few months, chances are good that you saw Christy Wood of Three Rivers even though you may not have recognized her. Christy would naturally have been on horseback as she is the owner of Wood ‘N' Horse Training Stables, coach and member of the Wood ‘N' Horse Show Team, author of Your Best Horse Show: A Guide for Managers and Exhibitors (AuthorHouse, 2009), and an accredited equestrian judge who has traveled to horse shows worldwide.

  In early September, Christy and her championship show horse, Dude, rode with the Calizona Appaloosa Horse Club at the Norco Valley Fair Parade. She and nine others were in Nez Perce costume circa 1870 and riding their appaloosas.

  Because of their authentic dress, the group won the “Equestrian Sweepstakes Award.” For the Calizona ApHC, this honor is a good omen as these 10 have been invited to ride in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day ( Friday, Jan. 1, 2010 ).

  A few weeks after Norco, Sylvia Durando of Three Rivers joined Christy in the Old Timers Parade in Madera, a community tradition since 1931 that celebrates its residents of 50 years or more. Sylvia dressed as Allan Pinkerton of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, ca. 1870.

  Christy was again dressed as a Nez Perce woman, riding Dude. As such, she again won the Equestrian Sweepstakes Award.

  Christy knows her Nez Perce history. She holds a World Championship award in the Heritage class for her Nez Perce regalia.

  And as of this summer, she is almost halfway through the Chief Joseph Trail Ride, which takes place for one week each summer for 13 years to retrace the 1,300-mile trek that the Nez Perce took in 1877 to avoid being forced onto a reservation by the U.S. government.

  Since 1964, the ApHC has organized this challenging ride. The current ride is the third consecutive 13 years and started in July 2004.  Each year, Christy and her mount have been a part of this group of 200 riders and their registered appaloosas, and she plans on attending each July through 2016 to complete the ride that will eventually pass through four states — Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

  So Christy is obviously well-qualified to depict a historic Nez Perce woman in the Rose Parade. But she is having to retrain her world-champion appaloosa into one who will be able to walk five miles down Colorado Boulevard with bands playing, floats driving by, and crowds cheering.

  These days, she can often be seen riding Dude along Three Rivers roads, as he prepares for his new gig as a parade horse.

  Keep an eye out. At last report, Christy was planning on riding in Visalia 's 64th annual Candy Cane Lane Parade, which will be fitting as this year's theme is “A Cowboy Christmas.” The parade is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 30.

  In addition to the parade circuit, Christy has been busy promoting Your Best Horse Show , which has been well received in the horse world. She has been reviewed in several trade magazines and recently returned from the World Appaloosa Show in Texas , where she had a booth to sign and sell books.

  In January, she will have a return engagement at the Western and English Sales Association's Denver International Market. She will again be peddling her books at this mega-trade show.

  Don't forget to watch for her in the Rose Parade. The lineup and her position have not yet been announced.


TRUS Recreation Committee seeks members

  Okay, Three Rivers Union School parents, listen up! Two years ago, when three Recreation Committee members resigned from the board after years and years (and years) of service, a call was put out for new members to fill the positions.

  One TRUS parent filled the void, one new mother with a baby and another on the way, and two retirees. They have now fulfilled a two-year term and three of the four have expressed an interest in stepping down from the board.

  Here's the deal: The TRUS Recreation Committee is basically about local schoolchildren learning the fundamentals of sports — soccer, basketball, and tee-ball/baseball. As such, it makes sense that parents would spearhead this important committee.

  This group is responsible for the organization of extracurricular sports for students in grades one through six. Meetings are held at the school on the first Wednesday of each month at 5 p.m. and generally last about an hour.

  There are 155 children enrolled at Three Rivers School . This means that there are more than 200 parents, so it shouldn't be too hard to fill three seats on this all-volunteer committee.

  It would be devastating for the young students to no longer have youth sports, which is what will happen if the Recreation Committee doesn't find any new members. Team sports teach so much more than just the rules of the game; there are life lessons and character-building involved, such as teamwork, persistence, encouragement, perseverance, patience, fairness, cooperation, sharing, preparation, organization, responsibility, the rewards of hard work, and so much more.

  But it has to be about the game, too. All kids deserve to be given the chance to play sports and learn the rules at a young age. They won't feel so intimidated about joining a team when in middle school or high school.

  If the statistics are any indication, children — and that includes Three Rivers kids — don't participate in enough physical activity.

  One out of four children in the U.S. is overweight or obese. Now, more than ever, it's important to make sure the Recreation Committee remains a viable, active entity.

  So, how about it, Three Rivers School parents? Are you ready to step up to the plate for the kids? Take the ball and run with it? Slam dunk this board position? Take one for the team? Dive into action?

  Your kids probably won't tell you this, but they will be very proud. And you don't have to tell them, but they will be spending less time on the computer, playing video games, and watching television and more time on the athletic field. It's a win-win.

  Three Rivers parents — or for that matter, any interested Three Rivers residents — are invited to apply for the TRUS Recreation Committee by calling the school office at 561-4466.


Local bazaars kick off the holiday season


  Want to be the one who gives all the cool Christmas presents this year while reducing global warming? Then here's your opportunity to buy local and right from the manufacturer.

  To get you into the holiday spirit, the Three Rivers Senior League's 24th annual Holiday Bazaar is this Saturday (November 21, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. , Three Rivers Memorial Building ). It is the only crafts fair this time of year where many of the vendors are set up outdoors.

On a beautiful late-autumn day, shoppers could not ask for a better setting in which to do their Christmas shopping. In addition to the vendors, the Senior League gives away door prizes every hour, sells baked goods, and provides a barbecued lunch.

  For the two days following Thanksgiving, the Kaweah Artisans 10th annual Perfect Gift Boutique will be at the Three Rivers Arts Center (Friday-Saturday, Nov. 27-28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.). On hand will be nine artists and their specialty creations.

  On Friday, December 4, from 1 to 4 p.m. , and Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. , is the Lemon Cove Holiday Bazaar , organized by Sequoia Union School . This is a “no-repeat” crafts fair as no two vendors will sell the same merchandise.

  Besides the local artisan booths, Sequoia Union will have a bargain corner of holiday items for under a dollar. For the hard-to-shop-for person on your gift list, try the Tulare County Fair award-winning peach jam or tangerine lemon marmalade.

  This is a family-friendly event with activities for the kids and gourmet coffee for the adults to sip while shopping. Take Highway 198 to Avenue 324 and follow the signs to the Lemon Cove Memorial Building .

  On Saturday, Dec. 5, in downtown Lemon Cove, visit the Lemon Cove Woman's Club's Holiday Bazaar . It's a rare opportunity to see inside this beautiful 10th-century home built by a Tulare County pioneer family. This bazaar starts at 11 a.m. with the sale of holiday items made by local artisans and club members.

  Lunch will be served at noon , followed by a card party. Admission to the holiday bazaar is free; if staying for lunch, tickets are $12, with all proceeds going toward the preservation of the club's historic clubhouse.



Art by all ages at 1st Saturday

By Eddie McArthur

  Artists, entertainers, and merchants again treated Three Rivers residents and visitors to a day of fun as part of the continuing 1st Saturday series. The recent event was held Saturday, Nov. 7.

Kacey Fansett set up her watercolors on the deck at Anne Lang's Emporium. Not only was she painting, Kacey also offered each visitor a mini-lesson in watercolor painting. Many willing students took advantage, and several went home with a small, framed masterpiece of their own.

  At Three Rivers Union School , over 100 student-artists displayed their embellished watercolor paintings, created during four weeks in October. Volunteer art coordinator Amy Dolcourt and her daughter were there Friday afternoon to hang the many works, and various family members served as docents for the TRUS show on Saturday.

  Not to be outdone by the youngsters, former Three Rivers resident Marjorie Brandon, a spry 97, taught a workshop on collage painting at the Cort Gallery. Along with artist Ignacio Diaz, Marjorie brought an abundance of materials with her from Visalia and set up at long tables in the gallery where a group of adults spent the afternoon learning the art of collage.

  The Brandon-Mitchell Gallery in Visalia plans a show based on the works produced at this workshop.

  According to the artists at The Art Co-op, things got moving there by 11 a.m. and stayed busy all day. Featured artist Marn Reich was on hand with her creative sculptures and enjoyed a busy day.

  Having sold several pieces, Marn assures local shoppers that she is replenishing the shelves at the Co-Op for the balance of the month.

Among the regular artists who show at that venue, sales were consistent, the obvious key to continuing this considerable investment of time and talent each month.

  Nikki Crain, a local handweaver, reported that her studio located five miles up South Fork Drive had steady traffic. She was happy to demonstrate the art of weaving to all making the trek to visit her there.

Traffic at Nadi's Studio appeared quite busy with food, storytelling, music and, of course, original art. Dancing took place at Cort Gallery following the workshop, and the hours at that venue will be extended next month to accommodate those visitors wanting to stay into the evening for music and dance.

  This relatively new event has grown wings. Nadi Spencer, 1st Saturday founder and organizer, invites other creative types in Three Rivers to join in — photography lessons, cooking classes, and drum lessons are some creative ideas that come to mind. The next 1st Saturday will take place December 5, just in time to lure Christmas shoppers up from the Valley.

  Those wanting to participate must register and pay a small fee. Email Nadi at nadispencer@yahoo.com for information.


WANTED: Sheriff's VIPs


  Sheriff Bill Wittman is currently seeking recruitments for the Volunteers In Patrol program. The next VIP academy is scheduled for January 2010.

  Since 1993, VIPs have assisted the Tulare County Sheriff's Department with community-assistance tasks. VIPs have a wide range of duties including school and vacation-home patrol checks, traffic control, community-service engagements, children's court assistance, search-and-rescue support, community outreach, document transport, assist stranded motorists, victim/witness transport, deliver equipment/su pplies, office assistance, trash/graffiti abatement, and more.

  All men and women over the age of 18 are encouraged to apply. An application form is available online at www.tularesheriff.info (click on “Recruitment,” then “Volunteers). After a review of the application, volunteers will be required to be fingerprinted and complete a background package.




Home for the holidays


By Tina St. John


There is a distinct feeling that starts to infuse our lives this time of the year. I once saw a saying that said, “Blessed is the season, which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

  Thanksgiving Day is the best eating day of the year! It's that one day throughout the year where most people are sitting together eating food they wouldn't typically prepare, enjoying each other's company (hopefully), and giving thanks for the blessings in their lives. Isn't that what most of us envision is happening on Thanksgiving Day?

Food is the common thread for togetherness in any home or place of gathering. Whenever there is food, there is contentment, and when there's contentment, there's gratitude.

  The past few years I've been fortunate enough to have some Three Rivers kids visiting my home for a Thanksgiving breakfast. Some are back from college and some from where they live and work.

They still seem like kids to me because, well, I'm a mom, and most of them I've taken care of at some point when they were growing up.

  On the menu is the usual fare of roasted potatoes with red peppers, served with fresh salsa, buttermilk pancakes and maple syrup, seasonal fruit salad, and juice. It's simple, but as long as there's plenty they seem happy.

  The best and most memorable part of their visit is when they go around the table expressing to one another what it is they're thankful for.

  Every year, I hear the same from all of them: How thankful they are to be able to come home to Three Rivers and still have each other as friends. There's no doubt they share a special bond that seems unbreakable, and they attribute this to growing up together here because it fostered creative adventurous playing — swimming in the river, making forts by the flume, hiking in the high country, and having gone through everything together since they were toddlers, or birth for some.

  These simple pleasures and basic blessings seem to define so much of who they are. It's good though to see them give thanks for the gifts in their lives.

  I think what makes them so cheerful and giddy on this particular morning, however, are their bellies being filled with love.

  Happy Thanksgiving and... Bon Appetit!


Three Rivers Kids ' Thanksgiving Breakfast Menu


Make any recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes and top with butter and warmed 100% maple syrup. Serve with the following sides:


Roasted Potatoes with Red Peppers and Simple Salsa


5 lbs. red potatoes

2 large red bell peppers

1/4 bunch of cilantro (optional)



Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dice potatoes, slice bell peppers into thin strips. Toss potatoes and peppers in olive oil and salt to taste. Roast potatoes and peppers on cookie sheet until potatoes are golden brown and can be pierced with a fork (about 15 minutes). Remove from oven and mix in diced cilantro.

Simple Salsa


1 can organic diced tomatoes

1 jalapeño pepper

1/4 diced red onion

1 bunch of cilantro

Juice from 2 limes



In a blender, mix tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt. Stir in onion after removing from blender. Set aside to top on roasted potatoes.

Seasonal Fruit Salad







Pomegranate seeds

Frozen blueberries


Dice fruit and toss with blueberries and pomegranate seeds.




Where California is ranked…


  “America 's Health Rankings” has tracked the health of the nation for the past 20 years, providing a unique, comprehensive perspective on how the nation — and each state — measures up.

  This 20th anniversary edition of the Rankings suggests the nation is extremely adept at treating illness and disease. However, Americans are struggling to change unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and obesity, which cause these diseases in the first place.

  Trends cite smoking as the greatest health challenge of the past 20 years and warn that obesity is likely to be the next national health battle.

  The 2009 “Rankings,” which was just released this week, shows the nation's healthcare system is very good at disease diagnoses and treatment. But Americans are in the battle of their lives to learn how to modify risk factors, such as smoking, poor eating habits, and lack of exercise, which contributes to chronic diseases in the first place.

  The United States currently spends more per capita than any other nation on healthcare, including $1.8 trillion in medical costs associated with chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. These chronic, preventable conditions all have a direct link to smoking and obesity, the nation's two largest national risk factors.

  Smoking. Despite focused efforts, nearly one in five Americans still smoke, which is only eight million people fewer than 20 years ago. Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the country.

  Obesity. The fastest growing health issue that this nation has ever faced is obesity. Today, more than one in four (31%) Americans are considered obese. If current trends continue, 43 percent of the population will be considered obese by 2018.

  Nothing to brag about... California was ranked 23rd out of the 50 states this year; it was 24th in 2008. The state's strengths include a low prevalence of smoking (14% of the population), a low prevalence of obesity (24.2%), a low occupational fatalities rate, a low infant mortality rate, a low rate of cancer deaths, and a low rate of preventable hospitalizations.

  Challenges in California include high levels of air pollution, a high rate of uninsured population, and a high incidence of infectious disease. According to the report, “ California ranks lower for determinants than for health outcomes, indicating that overall healthiness may decline over time.”

  Here are the healthiest states: (1) Vermont ; (2) Utah ; (3) Massachusetts ; (4) Hawaii ; (5) New Hampshire .

  Here are the unhealthiest states: (1) Mississippi ; (2) Oklahoma ; (3) Alabama ; (4) Louisiana ; (5) South Carolina .

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
© Copyright 2003-2009 The Kaweah Commonwealth