of Kaweah Country
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The Best of Kaweah Country
the News - Friday, NOVEMBER 26, 2004
$388 billion appropriations bill
revision of 1978 law
By John Elliott
On Sunday, Nov. 21, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-21st District)
announced the passage of a bill that he authored to allow the owners of
Mineral King cabins to continue to lease their holdings for an indefinite
period time. The historic legislation was part of an omnibus appropriations
bill that passed Congress on Saturday.
To become law, the bill awaits President Bush’s signature
and that formality is expected to happen before December 3.
“I was extremely
happy to get this done,” Rep. Nunes said upon his return from Washington,
D.C. “It was obvious that it was the right thing to do.”
Specifically, the Mineral King bill amends the National Parks
and Recreation Act of 1978 to:
requirement that the rights of use and occupancy by the owner or owners
of any property acquired by the Secretary of the Interior within the boundaries
of Mineral King Valley in Sequoia National Park shall be for not more
than 25 years or for a term ending on the death of the owner or his or
her spouse, whichever is later (thus permitting the continued use and
occupancy of certain privately-owned cabins in the valley); and
or extensions of leases or permits on federal land within Mineral King
Valley to the heirs, successors, and assigns of those persons who were
lessees or permittees of record on the enactment of such Act.
In the 1960s, the Mineral King cabins were slated for removal
as part of a proposal by the Disney Corporation to build a ski resort
in the area. As a result, legislation was signed into law in 1978 that
transferred Mineral King into Sequoia National Park.
In October 2003, the Mineral King area was listed on the National Register
of Historic Places.
“Mineral King is
a public/private partnership and these people should not be punished for
their efforts in creating the Mineral King Historic District.”
The appropriations bill was also a win for the National Park
Service. That agency will receive $56 million more in operating funds
than the Bush administration had requested.
“This federal spending
bill also includes funds to address critical needs in our local communities,”
Rep. Nunes said. “In addition to expanded transportation and infrastructure
spending, the omnibus bill fully complies with spending targets agreed
to by Congress and the Administration.”
Another immediate effect for Kaweah Country is $7.86 million
earmarked for the management and operations at Lake Kaweah. A portion
of that money will be used by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the
dike by the Best Western Holiday Lodge in Three Rivers.
The most immediate effect of the Mineral King legislation
is the impact it will have on the parks’ new General Management
Plan that is nearing completion.
“What the legislation
means is that the assumptions that we used in compiling the plan are no
longer appropriate,” said Bill Tweed, Sequoia-Kings Canyon spokesperson.
“In a way, it’s given us a very important ‘com-ment’
and we need to integrate this information into the GMP.”
The omnibus bill sets funding for 13 government departments
and dozens of agencies in 2005. The house passed the measure 344-51; the
Senate approved it 65-30.
The document is over 3,000 pages and weighs more than 14
Bill Maze, State Assembly member (R-34th District), was in
Visalia for the holiday recess and said he was elated to hear about the
Mineral King bill. Prior to his entering public service, Maze personally
restored several of the cabins now included in the Mineral King Historic
over the decision to include Mineral King in the appropriations bill,”
Maze said. “Congressman Nunes deserves our praise for his vision
and ability to get things done.”
NPS backcountry ranger
DVD reveals benefits of wilderness travel
By Sarah Elliott
“One of the pleasures
of my job is the people I get to meet along the trail,” says Bob
Kenan in his just-released DVD filmed along the John Muir Trail in Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks. And he has met thousands during his career
as a backcountry ranger for the National Park Service that has spanned
Bob began developing this project about seven years ago. And for the past
four summers, he has carried a video camera in his backpack during his
High Sierra rounds.
The end product is a one-hour documentary entitled Message
from the Mountains. The production includes interviews with nearly 50
backpackers from throughout the United States — California, Georgia,
New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania — and around the world —
Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Scotland, Switzerland.
The backpackers, all of whom Bob met while they were navigating
the portion of the John Muir Trail within Sequoia-Kings Canyon, shared
their views of why wilderness travel is invigorating and rejuvenating.
The vivid scenery in the video — lakes, peaks, meadows, waterfalls,
forests, and magnificent alpenglows — corroborates their statements.
"After my third
season of filming, I had a lot of really good backpacker interviews to
work with," said Bob. "During my off-season, I met a local Taos,
N.M., video editor, Randolph Pierce, and we started to work together on
the project. We prepared a script, and I went into the fourth season with
a specific shot list, knowing what I needed to complete the project. I
had a videographer come into the backcountry and hike around with me for
a few days to get the necessary final footage."
The “Message” becomes startlingly clear in the
first few minutes of the show with clips of busy freeways and gridlocked
traffic that raise stress levels merely by viewing them. Bob Kenan then
appears, walking on a crowded city sidewalk, and he provides the setting
for the film as well as an overview of the definition of a "Message
from the Mountains," which is that a journey into the wilderness
puts into perspective the challenges of everyday life.
"Walking or hiking
relieves stress," prescribes Bob during the film.
Interviews include Bob's National Park Service colleagues,
including Debbie Brenchley, supervisory ranger, and backcountry rangers
Erika Jostad, Dave Gordon, Rick Sanger, and two others who, like Bob,
have more than three decades of seasonal service each — George Durkee
and Dario Malengo. Bob also shares conversations with DJ, an NPS packer,
and Terry, a trail crew foreman.
The narrative provides a brief biography on John Muir, the
19th-century conservationist who was instrumental in the creation of the
National Park System. Muir is the namesake of the popular trail that begins
in Yosemite National Park and travels mostly in conjunction with the Pacific
Crest Trail for 212 miles southward through a land of 13,000 and 14,000-foot
peaks and thousands of lakes to its terminus at the summit of Mount Whitney
in Sequoia National Park.
The Native Americans' reverence to the high country is also
depicted. There are wildlife shots, footage of the eclectic mix of present-day
Sequoia-Kings Canyon backcountry ranger stations — all of which
are located a day's walk or more away from the nearest trailhead —
and a description of the backcountry ranger’s life and job, which
basically includes preventing the destruction of natural resources based
on the premise of "Leave No Trace" and assisting travelers,
whether with route-finding, search-and-rescue, food supply, or medical
No words are minced in describing the arduous effort of carrying
a heavy pack over many miles day after day. All who take part in the film
are in the midst of this gargantuan undertaking, however, they reassure
viewers that the reward far outweighs the effort.
The video concludes with backpackers sharing their personal
messages they've retrieved from spending time in the mountains. In summary,
this is a self-help video that promotes responsible wilderness travel
as a prescription to heal the trauma inflicted by a fast-paced 21st-century
“The open spaces
of the wild can help backpackers clear their mind of the busy world they
just left behind,” ensures Bob.
The DVD, which includes an original score by singer/songwriter
John Dillon, is currently available by emailing Bob at bobkenan.taosnet.com
or by calling (888) 641-7933. Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 7, the production
will be available for purchase online at: messagefromthemountains.net
The cost of the DVD is $23, which includes shipping. A portion
of the proceeds from each sale will be used to support the development
of wind farms.
Feast for the children
Woodlake schools serve Thanksgiving dinner
By John Elliott
On Tuesday, Nov. 23, Thanksgiving was celebrated a couple
of days early in Woodlake at F.J. White Learning Center, Castle Rock Elementary,
and several area preschools. That’s because the district’s
food-service crew, managed by Laura Bullene Jacobo, served 1,200 school
children a lunchtime feast of roast turkey and all the traditional trimmings.
The Thanksgiving feast was the sixth year for the program
that teaches Woodlake’s students the history behind the holiday,
social graces of communal dining, and some of what goes into preparing
and serving a nutritious meal. For many of the children, it’s the
best meal they will eat this holiday season and the first time they’ve
biggest chicken I’ve ever seen!” exclaimed one excited student.
Jacobo said that she started the Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving
feast tradition in 1999, shortly after she took the job as Director of
Food and Nutrition for the Woodlake Union School District.
“We had a big load
of turkeys so I thought about what I could do that would be really special,”
said Jacobo. “It was my restaurant background that prompted me to
start serving the portable feast in each classroom.”
For the occasion, each of the classrooms complete projects
that depict Thanksgiving history or make something used as decorations
or in the serving of the meal. Some of the students made Pilgrim-style
hats and placemats while others created Native American headbands and
macaroni bracelets offered to the “Pilgrims” as tokens of
To accommodate all the hungry kids, Jacobo and her crew began
preparing the feast at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Sixty-two turkeys were roasted
along with large vats of mashed potatoes and gravy, 150 pounds of green
beans, and 130 pumpkin pies.
Terrence Keller, principal at F.J. White Learning Center,
said he couldn’t be more pleased with the program.
“The feast is part
of our school environment and is another example of something positive
that can be done in a small district,” Keller said. “This
[the feast] couldn’t happen without the dedication of our great
The turkeys average about 15 pounds each and teachers carve
and help serve the all-you-can eat feast.
“Serving a delicious
and nutritious meal to these children is very fulfilling,” Jacobo
said. “All the work of cooking and serving is worth it when we see
the faces of all those kids just light up.”
Prepare for emergencies
CPR, first aid
3R Winter Club sponsors life-saving course
Team up with what has been the most trusted name in health
and safety training for more than a century. The American Red Cross’s
first aid and CPR programs are designed to give participants the confidence
to respond in an emergency situation with skills that can save a life.
The Three Rivers Winter Club will be sponsoring a day-long
preparedness program on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The course
will be held in Room 11 at Three Rivers School.
The course will teach participants to administer first aid
to adults, children, and infants in shock, cardiac, and breathing emergencies
and to those suffering from too much heat or cold, sudden illnesses, and
poisonings. Participants will also learn first aid for everything from
cuts and scrapes to muscle, bone, and joint injuries.
CPR instruction will include learning how to respond to breathing
and cardiac emergencies in victims, whether an adult, child, or infant.
This course combines lectures, demonstrations, and videos
with hands-on training and practice to teach skills that are beneficial
for everyone to know, including those who work with children, professional
rescuers, or for those who simply want to know how to help someone in
Participants who successfully complete the course will receive
certification in Community First Aid, Adult CPR, and Infant and Child
The cost is $50 per person. Advance registration is necessary;
More events to ring in holidays
In last week’s issue, six holiday events were highlighted;
not bad for a small town. But there’s so much more…
Living Christmas Tree— On Saturday
and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, at 7 p.m., singers and musicians at First Baptist
Church will present their sixth annual musical in which singers perform
from platforms in a giant manmade tree.
High Sierra Jazz Band— It wouldn’t
be Christmas in Three Rivers without the annual Sierra Traditional Jazz
Club concert, which is Saturday, Dec. 11.
Artists’ Studios— George Smith
will be opening his Three Rivers studio on Mineral King Road during the
weekend of December 4 and 5. Nadi Spencer will have her Sierra Drive studio
open this Saturday, Nov. 27 (see the Classifieds page for details on these
In addition, the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, Three Rivers
Senior League, and Presbyterian Women are all hosting their holiday get-togethers
soon. See the Kaweah Kalendar on page 12 for details.
WOODLAKE HIGH SCHOOL
New era for boys’ basketball
By John Elliott
On Saturday night (Nov. 27), when the Woodlake Tigers varsity
boys’ basketball team takes the court versus a team of former players
in the annual Alumni Game, the Ken Ruby era will officially begin. After
18 seasons under former coach Gary Hylton, the Woodlake Tigers also have
new head coaches for the frosh and junior varsity boys’ teams with
Ruby taking over the varsity squad.
A former player and coach at Redwood High School in Visalia,
Ruby comes to Woodlake after guiding the Exeter junior varsity team last
wanted to run a basketball program and be head coach,” Ruby said.
“The new Event Center and the opportunity to coach at a small school
with less pressure is the right situation for me to develop as a head
But when you call the Ruby household and ask for “Coach”
it’s important to clarify which coach. That’s because Ken’s
wife, Kristen, is a successful head coach in her own right, currently
guiding another Tiger team: boys’ water polo at Lemoore High School.
Both are credentialed teachers, she in history, he in physical
education. In fact, that’s how the couple met while both were attending
Chapman University working on teaching certificates.
But it is Coach Ken Ruby, who also teaches P.E. for Visalia
Unified, who will have the attention of local Tiger fans. The former point
guard, who played at Redwood High School during the mid-1980s, said he
is excited about inheriting a solid varsity team of 10 seniors and two
“In the past, we
[the Tigers] have always been known as a team that hustles but were sort
of helter skelter on offense,” Ruby said. “My personality
is to run a more organized offense that executes creating opportunities
for shooters who can score.”
Ruby’s playing style and coaching personality was molded
mostly during his long association with Redwood’s Bob Vasilovich
and also working under Jim Mitchell at Exeter.
have asked for better role models,” Ruby said.
There is also a decidedly international flavor to the Woodlake
staff. In 1997, after getting married, Ruby accompanied his wife and spent
a year coaching basketball in New Zealand while she coached a club water
polo team. They had a great time and learned volumes about international
competition, he said.
David Pasquini, a new social studies teacher at Woodlake
Middle School, inherits the high school’s junior varsity team. Pasquini
is a graduate of Santa Clara University where he received an undergraduate
degree in History and his M.S. in interdisciplinary studies.
The new JV coach also played at Redwood (1991-95) under both
Ruby and his mentor, Coach Vasilovich. Like Ruby, Pasquini spent a year
abroad, coaching and teaching in Madrid, Spain.
“I got to see the
world and do the three things I like to do most — teach, coach,
and travel,” Pasquini said
Raul Quintero, who was hired as the new Physical Education
teacher and varsity baseball coach at WUHS, will coach the freshman boys
in basketball. His assistant will be Calvin Whitney, who coached the frosh
boys last season.
Louie Lopez, who like Whitney is a former Tiger player and
coach under Hylton, returns as a varsity assistant to Coach Ruby. Both
Lopez and Whitney are expected to play in Saturday’s Alumni game.
The men’s game begins at 8 p.m.; women take the courts
at 6 p.m.