this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
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,
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.
Ishida to meet with
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or drop your comments at the Chamber office
in the Three Rivers Historical Museum
before the meeting.
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
“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
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
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
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
Greg is still building schools for girls
and shows what a difference just one person
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.
Three Rivers to Israel:
nurse files report
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
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
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
These stories and so
much more in the weekly print edition
of The Kaweah Commonwealth.