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In the News - Friday, November 28, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


New Lake Kaweah

recreational facilities near completion

  Improvements to the Lake Kaweah Boat Launching Facility began in August and are presently nearing completion. The new recreation area, located at the eastern end of Lake Kaweah, includes a new access road, multi-lane launch ramp, high-water parking area, and restrooms.
   Also installed are a water system and septic system, security lighting, irrigation, and landscaping. The improvement project was made possible by a California Department of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating) grant in the amount of $1,930,000 and completed by civil contractor Erick Ammon Inc. of Salyer, Calif.
   This project is the recent improvement to Lake Kaweah since it was enlarged due to the raising of Terminus Dam four years ago.  The new facilities, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are anticipated to open to the public in early 2009.

Supervisor Ishida to meet with

Kaweah Country business owners

  The proposed scenic-highway designation for a 16-mile segment of Highway 198 through Three Rivers has left many local business owners concerned about changes and restrictions and asking more questions.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida and planning staff from the Tulare County Resource Management Agency will meet with business owners to discuss their concerns at 4 p.m. on Monday, December 8, at the Sequoia Foothills Chamber office, 42268 Sierra Drive in Three Rivers. Please note that this meeting is for the business community; the public is invited to share their input on the plan during the community Town Hall meeting on the same day at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Building.
   This is the time for business owners to ask questions, become informed, and share their opinions, interests, and concerns. There have been several recent changes to the proposed plan that could impact the long-term economic health of Three Rivers in both a positive and a negative way. Businesses could benefit from potentially increased tourism and be subject to the regulations in the plan.
   Now, as a point of clarity, there are a wide variety of existing local, state, and federal laws pertaining to businesses in Three Rivers. From signage to safety to taxes and health codes, business owners are required by law to comply with existing regulations.  Some business owners admit to not knowing all the regulations and others are frustrated at conflicting messages they've received from County officials about whether or not they are in compliance.
   This is an area where the Sequoia Foothills Chamber can help get answers to those questions or help businesses work with officials to modify existing regulations where necessary. While the Chamber can't advocate grandfathering existing illegal uses, the Chamber will help its business members sort through the red tape of compliance and changing information to get the answers they need.
   Over the past two weeks, the Chamber has been working with its member businesses to solicit questions, concerns and input regarding the proposed scenic highway designation. The Chamber will be providing a list of these items to Tulare County planning staff and the Three Rivers Village Foundation in advance of this meeting.
   The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce will continue to work with its member businesses to serve as a conduit for information and as a voice for local business. If you are unable to make this meeting, please take a few minutes write down your concerns and interests and email them, along with your name and business contact information to: Johanna Kamansky, Chamber president, at bigtreesmarketing@gmail.com or drop your comments at the Chamber office in the Three Rivers Historical Museum before the meeting.

County hires new planning director

  Jake Raper, a career city planner, knew when he assumed his Tulare County duties in October that he would have some big shoes to fill. In effect, Jake was filling the position of George Finney, county planning director, who retired earlier this year after 40 years with the County of Tulare.

  “I’m hearing lots of positive stories about George and all his accomplishments,” Raper said. “As I become more familiar with the RMA organization and the duties George performed, my respect grows for him and all those individuals who have long served Tulare County.”
   Jake comes well versed as a planner on the frontlines of community development. He told the county’s planning commissioners recently that he’s looking forward to the challenges of living here and planning for the future of Tulare County.  Officially, Jake is the assistant director of the county’s Resource Management Agency, second in command to director Henry Hash.
   Raper will be in charge of long-range planning, so he’ll have a role in everything from the new General Plan, serve as the zoning administrator, and oversee all community development. He has a long list of credentials and accomplishments, and after 25 years experience in planning, the timing in his career couldn’t be better for taking the Tulare County position.
   The man chosen to replace George emerged from a nationwide search of planning professionals. Raper’s ties to the Central Valley helped him land one of the County’s best and most challenging positions.
   Raper has a bachelor’s degree in city and regional planning from where he refers to as the “best” Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He later completed a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Chapman University.
   But it was his hands-on experience as a practicing planner, especially in economic development for a number of cities around California, that has won Raper praise. For the past two years, he has served as a consultant for the cities of Wasco and Gustine, so he also knows the perspective of the private sector and has sat on both sides of the table at a public hearing.
   The cities that Raper recently helped with community development face similar problems to Tulare County. How does city or county government strike a balance of growth and economic development while addressing high unemployment and critical housing shortages for low-income families?
   Raper has been on the cutting edge of challenges like these, and that’s part of what he’ll be doing here. As Visalia, Tulare, and Porterville grow, Raper will ensure that Tulare County charts a course consistent with the goals and policies of what’s best for both the unincorporated areas and cities.

  “My first impressions of the RMA is that it is composed of many dedicated professionals expending their energy, knowledge, and training to serve the residents of Tulare County,” Raper said. “There are many complex issues that are being efficiently managed, and the elected officials are providing the resources to its employees to address those complex issues and meet the challenges of effective government.”

Book review: Mountaineer

finds antidote to war

BILLY GILMOUR OF THREE RIVERS wrote this article to share this #1 New York Times bestseller and its commitment with Commonwealth readers.

   Three Cups of Tea is the true account of Greg Mortenson’s 1993 failed attempt to summit northeastern Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest peak and reportedly the most difficult to ascend.  When Mortenson, dangerously ill, gets lost while trying to escape the mountain and begin his long journey home, he comes into contact with the chief of the isolated village of Korphe.
   This nurmadhar chief shares tea and food, and nurses Greg to health. The friendship that results enlivens Greg to promise to build the village a school. He returns to the United States without a job and penniless, armed with only commitment and resolve to repay this Pakistani village.
   What follows is a tale of a man who became obsessed to fulfill his promise for which he had to search for finger holds on a metaphorical mountain that would be far more difficult to ascend than any mountain ever climbed. His sacrifices are superhuman; his achievements extraordinary. He will undoubtedly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
   Greg is the founder and director of the Bozeman, Montana-based Central Asia Institute (CAI), a nonprofit humanitarian organization.
Greg is still building schools for girls and shows what a difference just one person can make.
   Three Cups of Tea may be ordered online at: www.threecupsoftea.com
   If ordered via the link from this website to Amazon.com, then seven percent of the proceeds will go into a girls’ education scholarship fund in Pakistan and Afghanistan.


From Three Rivers to Israel:

3R nurse files report

   SANYA HARALSON OF THREE RIVERS has embarked on a six-month trip to Israel, where she will use her nursing background to be a medical volunteer.

  Hello to everyone back home. I arrived in Israel on Thursday, Oct. 2, at midnight after our plane almost crashed coming out of Los Angeles. But thanks be to God we made it, but my luggage didn't.
I learned pretty quickly how to live with just the clothes on my back. My luggage finally arrived eight days later.
   I currently am volunteering as a nurse in a home for elderly Christian believers. It is hard work but at the end of the day, I know I have made a difference in someone's life.
   I thought most people would know English here, but most don't. Hebrew is the national language but most also know Arabic and, surprisingly, Russian.
   I am living in Haifa, which is a port city close to Lebanon. In 2006, the Lebanese started shooting rockets into the city and I can still see today the damage to the buildings and roads.
   I was more than a little surprised when I arrived here because when I used to think of “The Holy Land,” it was a clean tourist-like area, sacred to three of the major religions. So I didn't expect to see trash everywhere. People literally throw their garbage out in the streets or wherever they choose.
   Israel also has a cat crisis on their hands, and they don't know how to solve it. There are innumerable cats in the streets and garbage cans, and these are not cute, cuddly kittens. They have huge teeth and they will attack! They are literally starving to death on the streets. It is very sad.
   I live in a predominantly Arab and Russian neighborhood. It is interesting that the government is encouraging missionaries to come to these areas because they say they want Christian Arabs rather than Muslim Arabs, but the Jews themselves are off limits for us to speak to.
   I am surprised by the amount and size of these Arab Christian churches. They mostly have Baptist and Assembly of God congregations, which are well attended. I am planning a trip to Jerusalem next week and I am sure things will be different there.
   Transportation is mostly by bus, so every time I get on one, all the reports of suicide bombings are in the back of my mind. The locals that I have gotten to know say that there is always a little voice in the back of their heads, but what can they do? They can't stay at home all the time.
   People here talk about our recent election and most are afraid that Israel will be on its own with Obama, and they feel more pressure to stop Iran by bombing them before Iran gets the ability and bombs Israel first.
   Who knows? Israel's politics and politicians are as messed up as ours.
   The main thing I have seen so far from my short time here is that we as Americans are fortunate, and we who live in such a beautiful place as Three Rivers are even more so blessed.
   Most people here are what is considered "middle class," but compared to our standards they are at poverty level. Very few own their own homes.
   Most live in small apartments with no air conditioning and, boy, does it get hot here. They also have no central heat, and I am told it can get close to freezing here, too.
   There are no clothes dryers so everyone has laundry hanging outside their apartment windows. Water is so expensive here that I hate to take a shower because of the cost.
   Wages are very low while food, clothing, and personal items are extremely expensive. A regular-size soda is about $2.50. There is also one McDonald's in Haifa, so I went there to check it out. A small combo meal was around $10.
   Another restaurant served us fried fish and some veggies and it was around $25. Life here is not easy, and you can see the hardship and struggles on people's faces as they pass.
   So, in closing, I ask that everyone keep me in their thoughts and Thanksgiving prayers as I begin to go out from here and begin a prison ministry around Israel. That is, if I ever get the OK from the government.
   I have learned that the government here holds all the power; whether I go or come, and they can change their minds without reason or explanation.
   I hope all is well in Three Rivers, and I will write again soon.


Richard Harlin Sr.
1932 ~ 2008

   Richard T. Harlin Sr. of Three Rivers died Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008. He was 76.
   Richard was born April 3, 1932, in Chicago, Ill., to Joseph Joshua and Ann Delores Kersch Harlin.
   In June 1952, he married the former Rose Marie Mershon. He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who fought in the Korean War.
Richard was retired from the 7-Up Bottling Company, where he was a district coordinator for the Southern California and Central Valley regions. He attended St. Clair’s Catholic Church in Three Rivers.
In 2002, Richard was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 50 years, Rose Marie. He was also preceded in death by two brothers.
   He is survived by his son, Richard T. Harlin Jr., of Three Rivers; two daughters, Carol J. Wallien and husband Danny of Riverside and Deborah A. Behrens and husband Daryl of Visalia; two brothers; three sisters; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.  

   These stories and so much more in the weekly print edition of The Kaweah Commonwealth.


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