Kaweah Commonwealth - Three Rivers

News and Information of KAWEAH COUNTRY - Three Rivers,

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Lemon Cove and Woodlake

Visitor Information:
Three Rivers
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Real Estate
Local History
Travel Information
Weekly News and Features
Weekly Weather
Calendar of Events
Property Rentals
Columns/ Opinions
Readers Poll
Newspaper Archives

Live Web Cam of
Sequoia National Park,
the High Sierra,
and Three Rivers, California


Kaweah Kam

AddThis Feed Button



In the News - Friday, November 23, 2012



Work on SCE forebay underway

  If anyone in the Kaweah canyon has failed to notice, there is a significant construction project going on just inside the Ash Mountain boundary of Sequoia National Park. The work that was described in last week’s Commonwealth as improvements to Kaweah Powerhouse No. 3 is actually the relining of the forebay, some 800 vertical feet above the century-old powerhouse located below the Park’s Ash Mountain headquarters.
   The forebay is a lined enlarged pool at the end of the flume that stores water prior to it entering the penstock (pipe) where it gains pressure through gravity as it drops in elevation.   The forebay holds 11 acre-feet of water; the penstock is 3,151 feet long.
   The forebay was built in 1912-13 and has been twice relined. The relining consists of pouring a new six-inch concrete layer over the entire structure. Helicopters are delivering the concrete, carrying one-half yard buckets, each weighing about one ton. It is estimated that about 2,000 loads will be delivered over the next six weeks or so.
   When the facility was re-licensed earlier this year, SCE began the plans for some major improvements to the hydroelectric system.
  “It’s a huge undertaking with a budget in seven figures,” said Jim Kennard, SCE’s general manager of the Kaweah facilities. “On most days we are flying 175 loads with work ongoing until 9:30 p.m.”
   The project is expected to be completed by year’s end and is one example of SCE’s commitment to providing clean, renewable energy from the Kaweah River. Kaweah Powerhouse No. 3 is capable of generating 4.5 megawatts, sufficient energy to power 4,500 homes.

3R caregiver charged with elder abuse

  Judy Dovel, 66, of Three Rivers was arrested Sunday, Nov. 18, after Tulare County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to a report that an elderly women was being mistreated at an Old Three Rivers Drive residence.
   According to a department report, an 88-year-old woman who is also a resident of the rented house, displayed obvious bruises and injuries. The victim was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno for treatment, which includes a serious head injury.
   The elderly woman is being treated for multiple injuries. Dovel is being held on $35,000 bail and remains in custody at Bob Wiley Detention Center.
   The charges in the case include assault with a deadly weapon, infliction of great bodily injury, and elder dependent abuse. Dovel has a court appearance scheduled for Friday, Nov. 30.

3R residents assessed a fire prevention fee

  There was a report earlier in the week that the first of the state’s fire prevention assessment bills began arriving in Three Rivers mailboxes just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.   The fee that was enacted in July 2011 following the signing of Assembly Bill X1 29 assesses $150 for each habitable structure that is located in a state fire responsibility area like Three Rivers.
   At a Three Rivers town meeting earlier this year, Cal Fire Unit Chief Kirk Swarzlander said he was not in favor of a “tax,” but at least Three Rivers, because it is served by a Cal Fire station, qualifies for a $15 discount for each structure. Apparently, there is some confusion over who is eligible and which bills actually reflect a discount.
  “I got my bill for $1,500, and I can’t see anywhere where a discount was applied,” said a Three Rivers rental property owner who asked that his name not be used. “What the letter did say is that I have 30 days to pay. That ought to put the due date just about Christmas week.”
   If you question a fire prevention assessment, a property owner may file a “Petition for Redetermination” with the fee service center in Suisun City. The appropriate information and forms are available at www.fireprevention fee.org.

Joe the Drummer set for court date

By Holly Gallo

  Following the October 19 article “Joe the Drummer cited” in The Kaweah Commonwealth, a surge of community support enveloped Three Rivers’s favorite mobile musician Joe Parisi.  After distributing public petitions denouncing the revocation of his civil liberties and First Amendment rights, Joe was able to bring over 170 signatures and five supporters to his October 31 court date.
   Even with the town behind him, however, Joe said that his hearing was anticlimactic given the drama that had instigated it.
  “It was uneventful,” Joe said.
   According to Joe, the hearing was little more than a meeting to decide whether or not to have a hearing. At the end of the day, the judge granted him nothing but a new court date on December 17.
  “I have no idea what to expect,” he said. “Is this really worth taxpayers’ money to take this on? They want me to come back just to decide whether or not they’ll pursue it?”
Joe expressed his gratitude toward his Three Rivers comrades in arms.
  “I want to give a huge thank you to the community for their support,” Joe said. “I want to hug the entire town.”
   Joe said that when he returns to the courthouse, he will simply say, “No, I’m not guilty.”

Woodlake completes phase one

of wastewater treatment plant

By Holly Gallo

  The City of Woodlake celebrated the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility on Thursday, Nov. 15, and with it an unprecedented opportunity for industrial, commercial, and residential growth. Design engineers Stantec Consulting Services Inc. and Quad Knopf worked in cooperation with C.W. Roen Construction Company and Woodlake city leaders to construct the facility, located about a mile south of town, just north of the Woodlake Airport.
   C.W. Roen was contracted by the City on November 1, 2010, in the amount of $11,751,000, and construction began in January 2011. The USDA Rural Development Assistance Program and the State Water Resources Control Board’s Small Community Wastewater Grant Program funded the project.
   As proclaimed by all of the speakers present — including representatives of Woodlake City Council, Southern California Edison, C.W. Roen, the Water Treatment Board, and Stantec — Phase I of this project is a shining accreditation to the city as well as its civic leaders.
   The project was developed in response to a 2009 cease-and-desist order from the State of California. However, the new facility promises to equip Woodlake with the proper tools with which to meet all water quality regulations and allow for a more economical process of disposal. It will start by increasing the city’s capacity for wastewater intake to 1.3 million gallons per day in addition to providing a far more efficient water treatment process than the city’s former percolation and reclamation ponds.
   In Phase II of the project, the daily intake will be increased to 1.8 million gallons to serve a projected population of 11,200 residents and further industrial development.
  “The previous facility was over 50 years old,” Woodlake City Councilman Rudy Mendoza said. “We were at capacity... The new facility opens the opportunity for more residential and manufacturing facilities to come to Woodlake. It allows for the city to accommodate growth.”
   In the future, more of the treated water will be able to be reused locally, and the effluent can be recycled or used for unrestricted crop irrigation.
   Mendoza added that for a city such as Woodlake, with a 20 percent unemployment rate, the plant offers a tremendous infrastructural opportunity as it “can allow for job growth and stimulate the local economy.”
   The plant features a five-step process for wastewater treatment and the minimization of nitrogen and salinity levels. First, there is a headworks and influent pump station, which screens for solid matter larger than a quarter of an inch in size that will be disposed of off-site.   Next, wastewater flows to oxidation ditches and anoxic basins that remove nitrogen, ammonia, and organic waste through aeration and bacterial decomposition.
   Secondary clarifiers collect floating and precipitated sludge in a separate station, followed by the transfer of the clarified wastewater to percolation basins to be filtered by the soil.   Having been cleared of nearly all harmful compounds, the wastewater poses no threat to groundwater sources. Finally, the solids-handling process collects solid wastes from the biological treatment in lagoons, allowing them to stabilize and decompose until their final disposal.
   All of these steps are critical to the main focus of the project, namely to properly manage water quality and to do so efficiently.

Woodlake High varsity volleyball wins Valley Championship

Tigers football to play in semi-final tonight;

winner advances to Valley Championship game

  The Woodlake High volleyball team did something no other volleyball team has done since 1988 — on Thursday, Nov. 15, they won a Central Section championship. And they did it in front of a capacity crowd at home in thrilling fashion.
   It figures that two evenly matched volleyball powerhouses — Woodlake and Kingsburg — would need a tiebreaker. In that winner-take-all fifth game, the score was knotted at 13 and it looked like the match momentum might be shifting to the visitors.
   That’s when Tori Johnson, head coach, told her youthful charges to keep their poise and let’s get this done. Two rapid fire points and the Lady Tigers had their first Valley title in 24 years.
   On Tuesday, Nov. 20, in another home game, the third-seeded volleyballers were not even challenged as the Lady Tigers dispatched Laguna Blanca (no. six) of Santa Barbara 3-0 in the regional match of the state volleyball tourney. Next up: On Saturday, Nov. 24, an Orange County semi-final clash with the second-seeded Saddleback Valley Christian of San Juan Capistrano.
   The Tiger football team continued their winning season by beating Sierra 21-14 in a Division V Central Section match-up. Next up for the boys: a Friday night lights encounter (November 23) at Corcoran in the semi-finals of their quest for a Valley title.

News of the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute

BIG opening night in a small town

By Bill Haxton

  Opening Night in a big city like Boston or San Francisco means giant searchlights beaming into the sky, limousines dropping people off at the curb, gowns and tuxedos and jewelry, TV cameras, reporters tapping the already and the almost famous.
   Granted, Opening Night in Three Rivers this coming Saturday will be slightly less glamorous, except for the one (but truly outstanding) tuxedo (mine!).
   But even though it’s true that we fall short on glitz, we don’t fall short at all once you’re inside and the music starts. This season’s lineup of performers is as strong as most big cities’, and it starts off with one of the world’s verifiable rising stars on violin, Simone Porter, whose progress over the last two years has been exponential. If you heard her at the first Center Stage Strings music camp in 2010, hit the delete button on that memory and buckle your seatbelt.
   At age 10, Simone soloed with the Seattle Symphony. At age 13 she became an international sensation when she soloed with the Royal Philharmonic of London. Since then she has performed all over the world and was featured in the highly acclaimed BBC documentary The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies. Last year she was chosen as the 2011 Davidson Fellow Laureate, one of the most prestigious of all awards for emerging talent.
   But while Simone may have been born with an enormous gift for music, one of her greatest strengths is that she doesn’t take her gift for granted. Committed to perfection, she has worked very hard to develop her gift to its full expression, practicing countless hours nearly every day of her life since she was five years old. It shows.
   She is now working with Professor Robert Lipsett at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles. Under his deft guidance her already remarkable talent as a performing artist has grown by leaps and bounds.
   Simone plays on a 1742 Camillus Camilli violin on generous loan from The Mandell Collection of Southern California.
   The centerpiece of her program is Edvard Grieg’s massive Sonata No. 3 in C Minor. Other pieces include Fritz Kreisler’s jaw-dropping acrobatics in Variations on a Theme by Corelli, two of Pablo Sarasate’s infectiously entertaining shorts Malagueña and Zapateado, and Fratres, an interesting composition from Arvo Pärt.
  For showtimes, see the Kaweah Kalendar page on this site or visit www.trpai.org.


Arboretum of Grafenberg celebrates centennial:

100 years of giant sequoias in Germany

By Andrea Klemer

  It was a great celebration of 100 years of “trees extraordinaire” this past September. In the tree park or so-called Arboretum of Grafenberg in Germany, the Forest Office of the County of Reutlingen organized a big family fun day with lots of games and interesting things to learn about the forest.
   The center of attention were the three Sequoia Redwood trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) that have been growing here since the beginning of the Arboretum 100 years ago. On this day of the Centennial celebration, the trees were used to display and explain modern tree climbing techniques.
   Many children tried out this climbing opportunity, going up around 20 meters (60 feet). They also had a quiz with prizes where visitors were able to estimate or guess the height of one of the three sequoia trees.
   At the end of the day, a professional tree climber climbed all the way up to almost the top (6 meters, or 18 feet, below the top because the top part of the trunk was too fragile to climb any further). He then let a measurement tape down to obtain the height of the tree.
   It was 48.5m (around 150 feet) tall. This is a bit more than half of the famous General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park.
   Thousands of visitors, mostly families with children and senior citizens, attended the Arboretum Centennial. County Forest workers answered questions about the redwoods (and other trees). Of special interest for the visitors were the red bark and the fact that these trees hardly burn.
   Giant sequoias actually grow quite well in Germany climates, which has four seasons but is not as extremely cold in the winter as the climate in the Sierra Nevada. It also does not get as hot in the summer.
   Of course, Germany hardly has any wildfires since it rains much more during the summer and everything is green. So if someone wants to grow Sequoia Redwood trees they help get the seeds out by using a baking oven or put them on a heater for the cones to open.
   Visitors, including me, were able to buy little Sequoia Redwood trees at the Centennial celebration. So now there will be even more Big Trees growing in German gardens soon.
   Author’s note: This Arboretum also contains Coast Redwood trees, which are also not native to Germany. Germans call giant sequoias “Riesenmammutbaum” (giant mammoth trees) or “Gebirgsmammutbaum” (mountain mammoth tree) or “Wellingtonie” (named after the British war hero who defeated Napoleon).
   The Arboretum was not created for economic reasons. Even though the wood of the Sequoia Redwood tree is excellent building material because it does not resinate, it is not well known enough in Germany to create a demand. So the sole purpose of the Arboretum is to show people the beauty of trees from all over the world.
   Andrea Kirn Klemer was a foreign exchange student to Three Rivers as a German Bundestag/US Congress scholarship recipient and graduated with the Woodlake High Class of 1988. She and her husband, Michael Klemer, have three children. She is a self-employed riding instructor, Appaloosa Horse Club-approved European judge, owner of Sequoia Horse Training & Equine Services, and is a tour guide at the world-famous State Stud of Marbach, Germany. She and her family fell in love with Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park and have returned many times to visit.


Charles Fairman
1955 ~ 2012

   Charles Walter Fairman, who was raised in Three Rivers and lived in this area for most of his life, died Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. He was 57.

  A memorial service will be held Friday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m., at Lemon Cove-Sequoia Campground, 32075 Sierra Dr., Lemon Cove.
   Charlie graduated from Three Rivers School in 1969 and Woodlake High in 1973.
   The following is a tribute to Charlie’s life, written by his sister, Pearl Fairman Maxner.
                                                    * * *
   I can’t pretend to really “know” my brother Charles. He went through so many changes in his life I had a hard time keeping up!
   I do know that he was an adorable little boy who was born April 11, 1955, in Lynwood, Calif. He had two older sisters and he was much longed for and cherished by his new family.
   In 1960, the family moved to Three Rivers when “Chuckie Boy” was five years old. His little sister, Melody, was born when he was 6. He and I played together all of our young lives catching frogs, shooting lizards and birds (heavens!) with our BB guns, taking care of dogs, rabbits, kittens, and a couple of horses through the years, swimming in the river, damming the creek behind the house, doing a lot of leaf raking (which I never thought he did his share and was always jumping in the piles and messing them up), and other general things of childhood, including fighting.
   He learned to fish from our Grandpa Fairman, and he sure loved that. Grandpa Chuck was his favorite person in the world, and he took his death real hard when he was 12.
   Did you know that as a young teen he had one of the sharpest wits in the universe? He could have easily been a comedian; he had us in stitches all the time. He also worked alongside the rest of the family putting in firewood, building fences, mowing lawns, and other boy-chores. He worked far harder than us girls.
   Charlie went to work for Pat O’Connell at the gas station at age 15 and learned to be a mechanic and tow truck driver. Pat taught him a lot in his years there. It was there also that he hurt his back, a problem that plagued him the rest of his life.
   When he was a freshman in high school, I was with him the night he gave his heart to Jesus at a youth revival meeting at Warren Campbell’s church up the North Fork. He followed through in later years by going through rehab and being baptized by his dear and true friend, Ed Van Cleave.
   School never did suit Charlie, and I would honestly say he didn’t get a fair shake there. (Being an educator myself, I get to say this; right-brained little boys don’t usually fare well).
   Both of his sisters before him did do well and the pressure to do the same was exhausting. He played football some, but didn’t like that either.
   He did like playing the drums. He was self-taught. At his best he was hired to play with Mary Harris’s band for a short time. He also worked for the Park Service for a couple of years fighting fires. He loved to be outdoors.
   Charlie was a welder and artistically creative. You can still see some of his metal sculptures around Three Rivers.
   His father, Charles Elma Fairman III, died in June 2003, another event that was a hard hit for him. Some of you know their relationship was rocky. What you probably don’t know is that Aunty Michaelyn Mathy [1917-2005] and her daughter, Nonie Summers, picked him up in Lemon Cove and took him to the hospital where his father lay dying. It was an awesome sight as he and his dad made amends through tears and hugged each other. I will never forget it. We couldn’t have been happier. It ended right.
   The vices of our society plagued Charlie hard, but for the last six years of his life, he was alcohol and drug-free and had come to quite a bit of peace with himself. He enjoyed working on the tractor and cleaning up ever more areas of the Lemon Cove-Sequoia Campground where he and Sheridan lived for many years.
   There are some people who speak religiously, and others who simply do what they believe. I would be in great error not to mention the loving, giving, and generous hearts of Robert and Margaret Disinger [owners of Lemon Cove-Sequoia Campground] who allowed him a “home place.” This probably served him more than anything else in his later life except the dedication of the love of his life, Sheridan Wolf, who remained by his side through thick and thin.
   Charlie is survived by his wife Sheridan; his mother Donna Fairman of Visalia; his sister Donna Waite of Lompoc; his sister, Pearl Maxner (me) of Powers, Ore.; and sister Melody DuCasse of Colorado.

  He had one little girl who he considered “his” — Jessica. If you are out there, please know that he never stopped loving you and wondering how you were doing. But he had no legal right to do anything more, and he never was much for a lot of words.

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 2003-2012 The Kaweah Commonwealth