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In the News - Friday, December 4, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Alta Acres turkey shot with arrow

   The two flocks of wild turkeys that make their rounds on the North Fork and in the Alta Acres area of Three Rivers seemed to vanish last week as if on cue. Who could blame the gobbling hordes? After all, it was Thanksgiving.
   But on Tuesday, Dec. 1, when the busy birds reappeared on Alta Acres Drive, one of the turkeys was having difficulty keeping up with the others. That’s when Zoe Bull, who lives in the Alta Acres subdivision near St. Clair’s Catholic Church, noticed that one of the friendly birds had an arrow stuck in its back.

  “It’s a real shame when someone has to try to take one of these birds,” Zoe said. “These turkeys are really just neighborhood pets.”
   Zoe said she observed the usually social birds attempting to isolate the one turkey with the arrow stuck in his back.

  “He or she, I couldn’t be sure if it was a male or female, was obviously trying to get rid of that arrow that was stuck in his back,” Zoe said. “The hurt bird wouldn’t let me get close enough to be of any help.”
   The arrow is approximately 12 inches long and has one orange and one yellow feather. One of her neighbors, Zoe said, told her it was the kind of arrow hunters use.
   Even though she believes it is not illegal to take wild birds on private property, Zoe thought it was hardly the sporting thing to do when folks feed the birds and they become tame.

  “One of the pleasures of living in Three Rivers is being able to see the birds and the deer up close,” Zoe said. “It makes me sad to think someone might want to kill one of these animals.”
   Zoe also said the neighborhood has a resident black bear that makes his rounds almost every night.

  “He always seems to stop by the We Three Restaurant and Bakery looking for something to eat,” she said. “Sometimes he might make a mess but like these birds he really is harmless.”
   Zoe said she was going to try to call the local Department of Fish and Game warden to see if he might be able to help the wounded turkey.
   To make a wildlife-related report or request assistance, call the Fresno office of California Department of Fish and Game at 243-4005 or the Sheriff’s Department at 733-6221. DFG contact information is also on this website.

Missing man found

deceased in Lake Kaweah

   The body of Alberto Ortiz, 67, of Porterville was recovered by a Tulare County Sheriff’s Department dive team from Lake Kaweah on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 4:30 p.m. Jim Fansett, Three Rivers resident deputy, and other members of the team had been searching for Ortiz since Tuesday after a family member called to report that Ortiz was overdue in returning from a fishing trip.
   The search for Ortiz was called off late Tuesday night then resumed the following morning. He was reported to be fishing from a wooden boat.
   The boat was not located. The cause of death was listed in the incident report as accidental. There was no indication that a crime had been committed or foul play. The results of an autopsy are pending.

Wilderness regulations changing

in one popular national park

   Want to backpack to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camp along the majestic Colorado River in one of America’s most scenic national parks? If planning your trip ahead, four months out will be the farthest ahead that you can request trip dates.
   If you want to plan a trip that far ahead, be prepared to put your itinerary in writing and submit the request during that month — four months in advance of the trip date. For one to three months ahead of a trip date, only in-person verbal requests are being accepted.
   Starting February 1, the busy park will consider only written requests four months in advance of trips. The requests can be faxed, sent by mail, or dropped off in person; all requests received each day by 5 p.m. will then be randomly ordered by computer for issuance of a wilderness permit.
   The earliest a backpacker can get a permit for the canyon is four months prior, so under the new system, the first day a request can be submitted in writing for a June trip would be Feb. 1. Those new regulations were recently posted on the park’s website, and for awhile until park users get acquainted with the new rules, are bound to cause some confusion and disappointment.
   Proponents of the new reservation system are hoping that eventually it will streamline the process for all visitors and make it easier to collect fees at the Grand Canyon, one of the country’s busiest year-round parks.
   Reservations at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, where a backcountry fee of $15 per party is required only during the busier summer season, are not necessary during the off-season September 27 to May 27. Backpackers arriving in the off-season, when ranger stations near trailheads are closed, are still requested to fill out a free self-service wilderness permit.
   Sometimes the trip itineraries are not filed and that can jeopardize the safety of the party. The three lost hikers in October, who were rescued from Roaring River in Cedar Grove, are an example of a party that entered the backcountry without filing an itinerary.
   In that episode, it took rescuers almost two extra days to locate the missing hikers because they were searching where the trio had told family members they had planned to be hiking. A sudden storm caused the backpackers to change those plans in an attempt to take a shortcut.
   So could the two approaches to making backcountry reservations eventually be merged into one nationwide system and be managed online? Stay tuned.

BOS adopts new rules for medical marijuana

   In an effort to further clarify what marijuana dispensary operators can and cannot do, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors adopted some new rules at last Tuesday’s board meeting that placed limits on the number of dispensaries in the unincorporated area (three) and the number of plants permitted to be grown on-site (99).
   The rules also stipulate that the operating dispensaries must be co-operatives. That is interpreted to mean only nonprofits can be licensed to operate in unincorporated Tulare County.
   To comply with current zoning and business licensing laws, the dispensaries also must be legal in both the state of California and under federal statutes. Currently, the possession and sale of marijuana is illegal under federal law.
   That yes-and-no situation clearly invites a legal tug-of-war that may never be resolved until marijuana is legalized by the state and federal government.
   The current moratorium on new dispensaries to begin operating in the county territory, ends on January 5. Neither county officials nor marijuana advocates know what will happen once the moratorium is lifted.
   The case of a Sacramento physician illustrates some of the confusion under the current marijuana laws, not only the inconsistencies with federal law but from one state to another. In Mississippi, where Dr. David Allen performed heart surgeries, authorities seized his home and ranch earlier this year after finding $800 worth of marijuana and $1,000 in hashish.
   A grand jury is looking into a cultivation charge that could mean 30 years in prison for the cannabis doctor. In Sacramento, where Dr. Allen now resides, he is a licensed member of a physician community that enables thousands of card-carrying Californians to lawfully grow and consume pot for personal use.
   The problems that have cropped up with the proliferation of the dispensaries is the size and scope of the operations. A growing number of patients are using the cannabis and its by-products as alternative treatment to combat the effects of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines, and a host of other ailments.
   But some of the medicinal product has also been finding its way to the street market when growers seek to maximize their profits. Or, in the case of rip-off artists, four separate home invasions took place in a town near Sacramento in a single weekend.
   The rationale behind the Tulare County rules is to provision the compassionate and safe use of medical marijuana while keeping the operators small in scale.
   Will the Tulare County rules be workable? Greg Thompson, Three Rivers business owner and marijuana advocate, told the Tulare County Planning Commission Wednesday that the county should treat marijuana like it does any other agricultural commodity.

  “The cultivation of marijuana is already a billion dollar industry in this county,” Thompson said. “With the right set of rules and standards Tulare County could be the leader in an industry that could create jobs and be potentially a huge source of revenue for the county, farmers, and local business owners.”

Mountain roads close for winter

   The Mineral King Road in Sequoia National Park has been closed at the gate located 12 miles from Highway 198 since the end of October.  The Crystal Cave Road, also in Sequoia, closed with the last cave tour of the season.
   Most likely, after the projected storm next week, the Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road that leads from the Giant Forest Museum through the heart of the giant sequoia grove will be closed to vehicles due to snow. However, it is open to pedestrians who may best access the road using cross-country skis or snowshoes.
   The highway to Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park is also closed for the winter as of last month. The Panoramic Point Road in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park also closes as winter approaches. It, too, is accessible on foot with skis and snowshoes as the snow accumulates.
   The Generals Highway, the main artery between Sequoia and Kings Canyon, may also close periodically due to snow buildup on the highway. The highway is open year-round from the Ash Mountain entrance station to Wuksachi Lodge and from the Kings Canyon park entrance to the Hume Lake gate.
   In Giant Sequoia National Monument, in the area known as the Hume Lake Ranger District, the U.S. Forest Service is beginning its winter road closures.
   Roads in the Big Meadows, Burton Pass, Woodward Creek, Converse Basin, and Stony Creek areas have been closed or will be by the end of the weekend. Lower-elevation roads in the areas of Eshom, Cherry Gap, Millwood, and Dark Canyon will soon follow.

  “Due to the storm anticipated to begin moving into the Sierra this weekend, and to begin to prepare for the winter recreation program on the district, it is time to begin to close these roads,” said John Exline, Hume Lake district ranger.
   The roads will be reopened in spring 2010 with the opening date dependent on weather and snow conditions. Traditionally, most of the Monument’s roads, and those in Sequoia and Kings National Parks, are open by Memorial Day.
   In Yosemite National Park, the Tioga Pass Road, which connects the central San Joaquin Valley to the east side of the Sierra, closed for the season Monday, Nov. 30. The Glacier Point Road is also closed. Both roads will reopen in the spring as weather conditions allow.
   Travelers venturing into the Sierra this weekend, and during the entire coming winter season, should be prepared for adverse conditions. Weather and road conditions can change quickly.
   Be sure to carry tire chains, a shovel, blankets, warm clothes, water, and some food in the event of being stranded in a storm. In addition, always leave an itinerary with someone just in case; don’t count on having cell phone service in the mountains or in stormy weather.
   For more information about road closures in the Hume Lake District of Giant Sequoia National Monument, call 338-2251 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks road conditions are available by calling the 24-hour information line at 565-3341.

Kaweah Country friends celebrate
milestones and achievements

   Liam McElroy, 9, of Three Rivers, earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do on Friday, Nov. 20. Liam will stay at the Three Rivers dojong to continue his training as a beginning black belt student.
   Liam is the son of Charles McElroy and Amy Dolcourt-McElroy of Three Rivers.


   Shelton Johnson, a National Park Service interpretive ranger from Yosemite, was selected as the recipient of the 2009 Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation. He was one of seven finalists from throughout the country competing for the national award.
   Shelton, a native of Detroit, Mich., was cited for his extensive collaboration with producer Ken Burns during the filming of the documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. He has worked for the NPS since 1987.
   In 2004, Shelton visited Giant Forest Village in Sequoia National Park where he portrayed Sgt. Elizy Boman, a “Buffalo Soldier” from Troop K, 9th Regiment, U.S. Cavalry. He has been widely recognized for this creation of “Through the Eyes of a Buffalo Soldier” re-enactment and for his important efforts in fostering a relationship between African Americans and the national parks.

  This year, Shelton had his first novel, Gloryland, published. The story follows the life of Elijah Yancy and his journey to become a Buffalo Soldier.

   Three Rivers Union School sent two teams of students to this year’s Tulare County Cyberquest competition. On Saturday, Nov. 21, students from over 100 local schools competed before a panel of judges and an audience of teachers, coaches, and family members at the Visalia Convention Center.
   TRUS has had teams participating in this annual technology competition since its inception a decade ago. This year, there were two teams and both received first place in their category and “Superior” ratings.
   For the competition, the students have three weeks to research and develop a 10-minute multimedia presentation that best relates to an assigned scenario.
   Zafina McElroy, fifth grade, and Hannah Sherwood, fourth grade, made up the “3 Rivers Cuties” team that was coached by Sue Sherwood. Their scenario was this:

  “Your team is a group of music therapists on the Professional Advocacy Committee of the American Music Therapy Association. Your committee has been asked to make a multimedia presentation to the Continuing Education Committee of the California Medical Association on the value of using music in the treatment of patients. If accepted, your presentation will become part of their series of webinars to educate physicians on a wide range of topics.”
   A sixth-grade team called “Awesome Eagles” consisted of Michael Howell, Thomas Woods, Cynthia McDermott, and Henry Pfaff and was coached by Barbara Merline. Their scenario read:

  “The Ancient Medical Museum is a new museum still in the planning stages. The concept behind the museum is to highlight the medical practices of ancient civilizations and show their connections to modern medical practices. The museum will be arranged so that each room, 40 by 40 feet, is dedicated to an ancient civilization. They are contracting with private firms to take a room and make it both historically accurate and interesting for patrons of all ages. The Museum director has asked your firm to make a multimedia presentation to the governing board showing what you would include in a room of the museum.”


Souper meals

by Tina St. John

   Soups! Comfort food, hearty food, healthy food, Grandma’s food, Mom’s specialty.
   So many words come to mind when there’s soup. ‘Tis the season for soup!
   My mother made soup often in our home. Soup is a European tradition.
   It’s also an American tradition and is remembered often in relation to the Depression when food was scarce. Soup lines.
   Soup can be relatively inexpensive to make, and hardly a mistake can be made when cooking it. However, it can also be a delicacy, as my mother thought.
   She made the most delicious and incredible soups. They were simple but flavorful.
   As a child, I remember her making complicated soup recipes that one would think were only for the adult palate. Mushroom Sherry Soup, Cream of Asparagus Soup, Vegetable Soup.
   I would watch her make these dishes, studying what it was that made the taste so appetizing. How did she do it with so few ingredients?
   How did she make it seem so effortless but end up with a soup that tasted so remarkable? Mushrooms and sherry? Cream and asparagus?
   She would sauté the mushrooms in butter until they were golden brown, then splash sherry onto them. As this concoction sizzled and the aroma of the sherry would dance around the kitchen, I used to think, it smells so good, but how could my mother feed us alcohol?
   I asked her once: “Why don’t we get drunk when we eat your soup, Mom?” She laughed and told me that when sherry is cooked, the alcohol evaporates, leaving just the flavor behind.
   Her Cream of Asparagus soup was just as tantalizing. I wasn’t a big fan of asparagus as a child and, I suspect, neither were any of my brothers and sisters.
   But when my mother made her Cream of Asparagus soup, we didn’t care what was in it because it tasted so good.
   Was it the whole cream that she would use, or the amount of butter she added, or its combination with the crusty French baguettes that she would serve with the meal? After all, through the eyes of a child, this creamy, greenish soup didn’t look especially appetizing.
   The cream was cooked and thick and had pieces of asparagus floating around in it. The smell though was enough to send me to heaven.
   Then there was her Vegetable Soup. I remember big chunks of potatoes, carrots, onions, and green beans with fresh herbs that she grew herself in a homemade stock.
   Vegetables aren’t exactly a child’s first choice of food to eat, but my mom’s Vegetable Soup tasted wonderful. The aroma of this particular soup would permeate our home. When I would walk into the house after school, I knew what was for dinner that night when she was preparing this soup.
   My mother used to tell me that she loved to make soups. The reason being was because it was a food that was comforting to all of us.
And that’s what she enjoyed doing most of all; making sure we all were comforted and well nourished. I think that’s why her simple soups were so amazingly delicious and satisfying.
   It was her devotion to her family when she would cook for us. Just the love she put into all her dishes. Yes, that’s it, the love.
   AUTHOR’S NOTE: I want to make a correction in my last article. The potatoes need to be parboiled first before roasting them in the oven. That’s why it doesn’t take long when they are roasting in the oven.
   Bon Appetit!
   Tina St. John of Three Rivers owns Tina St. John Designs, making custom jewelry when she’s not eating, writing, or dreaming about food.


2 cups mushrooms, diced
2 tbs. butter
¼ cup sherry
32 oz. vegetable broth
5 tbs. flour
1 cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste

   Sauté mushrooms in butter. When soft, simmer in sherry for 10 minutes. Set aside.
   Combine flour and broth in soup pot over medium heat, whisking until thick and smooth. Lower heat and stir in half-and-half.
   Season with salt and pepper. Add half the mushrooms to mixture.
   Garnish with remaining mushrooms and serve.


½ onion, diced
3 tbs. olive oil
1 cup organic beets, diced
1 cup organic sweet potatoes or butternut squash, diced
1 cup organic Chinese cabbage, diced
1 clove organic garlic, diced
1 cup organic frozen green peas (set aside)
4 cups of organic vegetable broth
Celtic sea salt

   Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent. Add beets, sweet potatoes, and cabbage. Sauté until cooked, then add diced garlic. (Only sauté the garlic for 1 minute to avoid a bitter taste.) Add all these vegetables to the broth along with peas. Simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes. Salt to taste. Optional: Add rice, noodles or lentils.


1 organic red pepper, seeded
1 avocado
2 cups of water
¼ cup mixed cilantro and parsley
Pinch of oregano
Celtic sea salt to taste

   Combine ingredients in a blender. This is a “raw” soup, so if preferring to eat it warm, heat to no hotter than 112 degrees to keep the enzymes intact.


Nell Leyhe
1929 ~ 2009

   Juanelle Eloise Leyhe of Three Rivers died Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. She was 79.
   Nell was born November 16, 1929, to William and Mable Wood in Woodson, Texas. She always spoke fondly of her childhood in Texas, which she spent moving from place to place due to her father’s job in the oilfields.
   In 1940, Nell and her family moved to Compton, Calif., where she attended Clearwater Junior High School and, in 1948, graduated from Jordan High School. It was while she was in junior high school that Nell met the love of her life, Robert Leyhe. He would ride her home from school on the handle bars of his bicycle.
   Nell and Bob were married in 1949. They purchased one of the original Lakewood tract homes in 1950 and raised their three children there. Nell loved living on Castana Avenue and all of the lifelong friends she made there.
   In 1995, Nell and Bob retired to Three Rivers. Nell was a member of the Redbud Garden Club, the Red Hat Society, Firesiders, Presbyterian Women, and Community Presbyterian Church.
   She was always busy quilting, crocheting, baking cookies, gardening, and helping others. Nell’s first brush with cancer was met with a courage that will forever leave a lasting impact on her family and friends and she initially emerged victorious. She was endlessly cheerful and upbeat, taking every obstacle in stride and always keeping things in perspective.
   Nell was preceded in death by her parents and son Robert Dennis Wood.
   Nell is survived by her husband of 60 years, Bob; daughter Susan Kozdrey and husband Marty; son Jeffrey; grandchildren Michelle Draper and husband Jeremy, Audrey Kozdrey, Marty “Buddy” Kozdrey, and Shannon Kozdrey; great-grandson Noah Draper; brother    Jay Wood and wife Betty of Three Rivers; and sister Peggy Ingerick.
A memorial service was held Saturday, Nov. 7, at Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.

Gloria Marlow
1943 ~ 2009

   Gloria Marlow, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009, after a long illness. She was 66.
   A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 5) at 2 p.m. in Visalia. For directions, or to share a memory, call Kay Wheeler, 561-4536.
   On January 14, 1943, Gloria was born to Logan and Nellie Osborn in Orange, Calif. On October 12, 1963, she married Nick Marlow.
   In the 1980s, the Marlows moved to Three Rivers where Gloria owned and operated Los Amigos Restaurant (present-day We Three). The couple has lived in Visalia for the past 20 years.
   Gloria is survived by her husband of 46 years, Nick, of Visalia; daughter Tammy Keith and husband Tim of Visalia; son Robert Marlow and wife Pam of Three Rivers; son Ron Bourdon of Visalia; sister Kay Wheeler of Three Rivers; and brothers Jack and Dennis Osborn of Green Valley, Ariz.; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
   Remembrances in Gloria’s name may be made to the SPCA.

Mary Schoonover
1919 ~ 2009

   Mary Elizabeth Schoonover, a longtime resident of Three Rivers, died Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009, in Visalia. She was 90.
   Mary was born September 19, 1919, to Nevada Rice and Dora Harbin in Lynn, Ala. She was raised in Alabama and California.
In 1952, she married Howard Schoonover. She was a supervisor in the plastic manufacturing industry for 27 years.
   Mary and Howard moved to Three Rivers in 1969. They had been visiting Three Rivers almost every weekend since the early 1960s, where they would stay at a friend’s motel along the river, where Mary loved to fish.
   Mary loved to travel. The highlight of every year for her was the family’s reunion in Alabama.
In 1991, Mary was preceded in death by her husband of 39 years, Howard.
   She is survived by her daughter, Olivia Jordan of Three Rivers; son-in-law Bill Christy of Three Rivers; son Roy Daugherty and wife Prudence of Richmond, Va.; seven grandchildren; 10 great-granchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and many nephews, nieces, and cousins.
   A private service will be held.

Janet Barkley
1943 ~ 2009

   Janet Barkley of Woodlake died November 2009. She was 66.
   Janet was born in Bakersfield on September 29, 1943, to Karl and Jeanne Giggy. The family moved to Woodlake when Janet was a freshman in high school; she graduated from Woodlake High in 1961.
   Soon after, she married Richard Barkley in Las Vegas, Nev. In 1973,   Janet went to work at Sequoia Union School. She began there as a teacher’s aide and bus driver, and 32 years later, in 2005, she retired as the school’s confidential secretary.
   Janet is survived by her husband, Richard, of Woodlake; daughters Kelley Mehrten and husband Gordon of Lemon Cove, Teresa Jacobsen and husband Mike of Atwater, and Marcie Barkley of Woodlake; six grandchildren; and brother Mike Giggy of Woodlake.

Alice Wicks
1912 ~ 2009

   Alice S. Wicks of Lemon Cove died Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009. She was 97.

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
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