News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

In the News - Friday, DECEMBER 8, 2006

He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…
Reimer’s Candies thieves
h elp themselves to sweets

   Although there were two custom windows broken, it could have been much worse as owner Lynn Bretz took down glass measurements Friday morning, Dec. 1, after a thief or thieves made off with a sizable quantity of jawbreakers, saltwater taffy, and boxed cookies from Reimer’s Candies. Tulare County Sheriff’s Department investigators combed the Sierra Drive business for clues and found a suspicious-looking shoeprint.
   Bretz said the worst thing for him was the annoyance of having to stop all the holiday preparations to deal with the cleanup. The weeks prior to Christmas are the busiest days of the year for the historic shop that has offered custom sweet treats in Three Rivers for a half-century.
   Sometime during Thursday night, Nov. 30, or the predawn hours of Friday, a person or persons smashed the panes in two side windows and grabbed as much merchandise as they could carry from a counter that contained hundreds of individually-wrapped candies and special holiday boxed cookies. Larger boxes of Reimer’s renowned chocolates remained untouched on shelves nearby as there was no evidence that entry was made in any of the three buildings that serve as gift shop, candy shop, and ice cream store.
   Bretz, who along with his wife, Mary Anne, have owned and operated the store for two years, estimates the inventory loss at $400 plus several hundred more dollars that were needed to repair the custom windows. The deck was strewn with dropped goodies, apparently left behind during the getaway.

  “Has anyone considered that the suspect might be a smarter-than-your-average bear?” asked one local after hearing about the break-in.
   The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she was driving by Reimer’s in the pre-dawn hours several years ago, when she saw a large black bear trying to enter the front door of the candy store. Nothing was taken in that incident but there was some minor damage to the building.
   If it was a bear or a more traditional thief with a sweet tooth, the Scrooge of a culprit may just be gearing up for the holidays. A few days later, a Christmas tree display was vandalized at the Three Rivers Mercantile and an unknown quantity of trees was stolen, but it is unknown if these incidents are related.
   No arrests have been made in the Reimer’s case, but a reward of $250 is offered for tips leading to a conviction.
   Information about these or any crimes may be provided to the Sheriff Department’s dispatcher, 733-6211.

Charter director retires
from WHS Foundation

   When Bill Tidwell of Three Rivers received his ceremonial plaque earlier this week for 15 years of Woodlake High School Foundation service as a director, it represented much more than a thanks for a job well done. His tenure on the Foundation board spans the entire history of Woodlake High’s biggest booster, and he has been instrumental in the organization’s greatest accomplishment — its burgeoning annual scholarship program for high school seniors.

  “I’m sure we are a more legitimate organization today because Bill was a member of our board for all those years,” said Diana Pearcy, the WHS Foundation board president. “He kept us on track when we needed it most and knows more than anyone could imagine about bylaws and board procedures.”
   Tidwell, who after serving in the Navy in post-World War II Hawaii, earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology from UCLA and later retired from a 40-year teaching career that included being a professor at San Jose State.
   At the urging of Sue Mills, another retired teacher and Three Rivers resident who Tidwell knew from the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, he became one of the founding board members of the WHS Foundation in 1991. He wanted to get involved, he said, because he really missed the contact with students.
   Tidwell won’t be leaving altogether as he will continue to serve on the Foundation’s scholarship committee. Never one to pass on an opportunity to utilize his gift as an educator, the Commonwealth posed a few questions to Professor Tidwell related to the Foundation’s history.
   Q— How has the Foundation evolved since the board was organized in 1991?
   A— The original Foundation board was made up primarily of older businessmen (real estate brokers, bankers, orange growers, etc.). As they left, their replacements were largely younger business people who were alumni of WHS or school administrators.
   The original body planned to seek large donations from businesses run by those in the Woodlake Tigers network. Success was slow in coming and more parents were added to the board.
   The annual dinner during Western Week became a fundraising approach since it would attract more alumni and friends. After a few years, these relationships became stronger and donations began to come in. For example, the total assets in January 1998 were $70,500; in August 2005, they were $301,100.
   Q— How have the scholarship students changed that you have interviewed over the years?
   A— At first, students had to learn that all the talk about scholarships really meant something important. In 1993, about 55 students applied; 49 actually came to be interviewed. Of this number, six had grade point averages [GPAs] above 4.0.
   In 2006, 65 applied and all came to be interviewed. Eight had higher than a 4.0 GPA.
   Recently, the students have had much stronger ideas where they want to go to college and what they want to study. The variety of schools they attend and the majors they prefer are also greater.
   The word has spread about what takes place in the interviews and the students seem more open to strangers and the recommendations from the panel.
   Q— What is the future of Woodlake High School and academia in general?
   A— I hope that Woodlake High will continue on its current path. Attending college is widely accepted by the community now, so kids think in terms of continuing their education beyond high school. Woodlake still has classes for those not interested or capable, and they are not looked down upon.
   Constant standardized testing at the lower levels, with “reward money” involved, bothers me greatly. It probably has administrators pushing, if not forcing, teachers to teach to the test rather than using their unique talents to inspire students with variable backgrounds, abilities, and interests, and to love learning.
                                                 * * *
   Bill Tidwell will remain as a member of the Foundation’s advisory board, continue to conduct scholarship interviews and, of course, dedicate even more time to instill his love of learning in all who will listen.


   BECAUSE WE GET as excited to visit a bookstore as kids on their way to a toy store. Because we read when there’s chores to be done. Because our home library, bedside nightstands, and tables are overflowing with books that we can’t wait to read.
   THIS IS SOME of what has prompted us to create this new feature that will give us the opportunity to individually highlight “What We’re Reading.” The books aren’t necessarily recent releases, but have local, regional, or statewide significance.

An insider’s view of the University of California

By John Elliott

   Any parent with a high school student contemplating attending a university as a freshman faces a daunting task. It’s a competitive world out there with way too many choices.
   Being the parents of a new college frosh and another following close on her heels, we have dedicated much of the last three years to visiting, researching and, the subject of this article, reading about colleges.
   The higher education that is offered to Californians — at the 10 campuses of the University of California system, 23 California State University campuses, or a community college — is simply the best bang for the buck. Following our daughter’s lead, we narrowed our college search to the University of California.
   I found that a good place to begin in my new role as a UC parent was by reading a book that I located in a campus bookstore during one of our college visits. A Brief History of the University of California is a neatly packaged, small paperback that begins with a quote from its second president, Daniel Coit Gilman, 1872.

  “It is not the University of Berlin nor of New Haven which we are to copy… but it is the University of this State. It must be adapted to this people, to their public and private schools, to their peculiar geographical position, to the requirements of their new society and their undeveloped resources.”
   Gilman’s prophetic words were uttered at a time when a fledgling university contained one tiny campus in a state that had no private college or university tradition. But California did have unbounded pioneering spirit and a special sense of its own place.
   Like so many of this nation’s public universities founded in the 19th century, UC began as a land grant institution devoted to agriculture, mining, and the mechanical arts.
   Its very first campus, located in the city of Berkeley, was made possible because of a generous donation in 1867 by the College of California. The church-affiliated college made its land in Oakland available and another larger tract four miles to the north.
   Gov. H.H. Haight signed a charter for the new university on March 23, 1868 — Charter Day — and the University of California was created.
   The surrounding townsite of the larger parcel was named for George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne. The good bishop had visited America in 1729 in the hope of founding a school to educate and evangelize the aboriginals. Realizing this objective was ahead of its time, he furnished the model for Columbia University and endowed three scholarships at Yale.
   Classes began at Berkeley in 1873 after North and South Halls were completed, the latter has been preserved and is the oldest building on campus. Women were admitted from the start, causing President Gilman to remark in 1874 that the proportion of women who rank higher in scholarship was greater than that of men.
   From the outset there was great debate as to whose interests this university should serve. Critics wanted more emphasis on the purpose of the land grant college and that its students should have the best training in agricultural and mechanical arts. Defenders of the literary, agricultural, and scientific departments already established maintained that the new University was hospitable to farmers but its agricultural education must be based on scientific methods of inquiry, not on vocational training for future farmers.
   Gilman, a Yale man, did not survive the turbulent 1870s and resigned amidst unfounded charges that the University misappropriated federal land grants funding. Fortunately for all Californians, before he departed to assume the presidency at Johns Hopkins University, Gilman laid the foundation for UC’s future greatness.
   Under Gilman’s tenure, Berkeley doubled the size of its library, started the first visiting lectureships and graduate fellowships, and essentially defined the standards and aspirations that continue to guide UC today.
   This book and its discussion are simply too good to put down at this juncture. Next time I will profile just how it evolved from a single campus to 10, all of which have a specialized role in serving its more than 200,000 students.
   ADDITIONAL READING: Because our daughter made the decision to attend the original University of California at Berkeley, another recently-read and fascinating guide, which would be pertinent to anyone with an interest in the state’s history, is: University of California, Berkeley: An Architectural Tour (2002), by Harvey Helfand

Sierra exploration was first of its kind

By Sarah Elliott

   If I’m not hiking in the Sierra, then I want to be reading about this spectacular range.
   A recent find is a book published in 1974 that will appeal to all mountaineers, whether of the active or armchair variety. High Odyssey: The First Solo Winter Assault of Mt. Whitney and the Muir Trail Area was written by Eugene Rose.
   Some longtime residents will remember seeing Rose’s name in print on a regular basis. Gene is a former reporter and photographer from The Fresno Bee who wrote extensively on issues affecting the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
   Using the extensive diary of Orland “Bart” Bartholomew and selecting 56 photographs from nearly 400 that documented the trip, the author compiled a story about a mountaineering feat that had never before been accomplished. In the winter of 1928-1929, Bart skied the crest of the Sierra Nevada from Cottonwood Creek, south of Mount Whitney, to the Yosemite Valley — loosely along the route of the John Muir Trail.
   He was the first person to ever attempt such an undertaking during the snowy season.
   Bart’s journey began on Christmas Day 1928 and ended April 3, 1929. He traveled the 300 miles alone on six-foot-long wooden skis, using poles adapted from garden-rake handles, with a tarp for a tent, only a down robe for sleeping and warmth, cooking over an open fire, and carrying a 70-pound pack that included an Eastman-Kodak folding bellows camera.
   His 30th birthday came and went somewhere along the route. Multi-day storms and whiteouts, avalanches, frozen lakes and massive cornices, and even an “alpine hurricane” determined when and where he would travel.
   Bart experienced some tense moments and close calls, including a fall into a creek. This became a precarious situation as not only was he wet, but his pack also went into the water, soaking all his extra clothes and belongings.

  “His film, camera, food and first-aid supplies had been protected by their waterproof bags, but spare clothing and the down robe he used as a sleeping bag were hopelessly soaked.”
   He also was witness to wolves, wolverines, and porcupines, something the rest of us probably won’t see in the Sierra, winter or summer, in our lifetimes.
   To ensure adequate sustenance during his trip, Bart spent the previous summer placing 11 food caches in strategic locations along his planned route. Thirty-gallon garbage cans were painted dark green and packed with 50 to 60 pounds of food.
   The caches were carried into the wilderness on packhorses. They were stashed off-trail, well away from hikers and hunters who may have helped themselves.
   Bart summited 14,000-foot Mount Langley and, on Jan. 10, 1929, made it to the top of Mount Whitney, the first winter ascent of what is the highest mountain in the then-48 United States.

  “Impatient as I was to reach the summit, it seemed all obstacles known to mountaineers had been amassed to thwart progress,” Bart wrote in his diary. “By the time Whitney’s broad shoulder had been reached the sun was alarmingly low… and [there was] the danger of being trapped on the mountain by darkness.”
   Bart’s skill with a camera parallels that on his skis. The crisp black-and-white photos don’t merely describe the scenes, the imagery ensures all experience the Sierra’s winter terrain.
   Bart (1899-1957) ventured into the Sierra and triumphed over nature without modern inventions consisting of anything titanium, Polartec, or Goretex. He spent much of his time in elevations above 10,000 feet and in temperatures that dropped to 14 degrees below zero while navigating the most treacherous terrain in California during the harshest season.
   I read this book with a topo map at my side and followed Bart’s journey closely. There is a basic map in the book that also traces his route.
   ADDITIONAL READING: A few other favorite Sierra titles include: The Pass (1906), by Stewart Edward White; My Ranger Years: Sequoia National Park, 1935-1947 (1993), by Gordon Wallace; The Last Season (2006), by Eric Blehm; and Angels in the Wilderness: The True Story of One Woman’s Survival Against All Odds (2005), by Amy Racina.

Copies of parks GMP now available

   As reported in last week’s issue, the “Final General Management Plan and Comprehensive River Management Plan” and “Environmental Impact Statement for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Middle and South Forks of the Kings River and North Fork of the Kern River” has been completed and released (“Guide Book: Sequoia-Kings Canyon have a new plan,” Dec. 1, 2006).
   The purpose of the Final GMP is to establish guidelines for the planning and desired future conditions of the parks for the next two decades. All public comments received are included in the plan.
   Last week, details were sketchy as to how to obtain a copy of the three-volume plan. Currently, the plan is online at: parkmgmt/index.htm
   CDs and limited print copies of the plan may be requested by calling Sequoia-Kings Canyon, 565-3101.


documents Californio history

   Whether you are a horse fanatic, history buff, or just enjoy good cinematography, you won’t want to miss Tapadero. The recently-released DVD documentary will be previewed tonight at a cowboy gathering at Ritchie’s Barn in Visalia (see Kaweah Kalendar listing, page 12).
   The feature-length filmmakers, Susan Jensen (director) and Paul Jensen (producer), self-described “horse people,” chose the title Tapadero, inspired by the long-leather stirrup covers by the same name that hung from the famous Visalia saddle. Terry Ommen, a retired policeman whose second career is that of Visalia’s historian, helped furnish some background for the story of the saddle and that of the local vaqueros who used it.
   The Visalia saddle traces its origin to 1869, when it was made and used by the vaqueros and cowboys who worked the cattle ranches of the San Joaquin Valley. The film probes the Spanish roots of this fascinating cowboy way that remains alive and well on California cattle ranches today.
   To tell the epic story of the vaquero, the filmmakers traveled to Sonora, Mexico, and followed the Anza Trail — from Culican to Tubac, Ariz., and all the way to Monterrey, where the first mission in Alta California was established in 1770.
   The first vaqueros who came to California were Spanish and in the company of the Franciscans who founded the missions.
   The vaqueros, and the breed of horses that they developed for the hostile Southwest environs — the Spanish Barb — were indispensable to the mission system because it was cattle that were the sole source of income in the province for many years. The mission padres taught the indigenous people to ride, and the Californio vaquero was born.
   In California’s mild climate and geographic isolation, the early vaqueros “took as long as it took” to train their horses, slow and painstakingly, according to Jerry Jensen, the film’s narrator. Their early horse training methods were passed on by oral tradition and produced some of the finest horses and horsemen in the world.

  “The weather in California was conducive to more days on horseback than anywhere else,” Jensen said.
   When the Anglos arrived in greater numbers after 1850, they crossbred their thoroughbreds with the Spanish horses. By the 1940s, their descendant stock — the quarter horse — was made a standard breed.
   That breed was smaller and more maneuverable than many other of the world’s great stallions and has been bred for comfortable travel over long distances. The quarter horse remains the horse of choice for most cowboys on working ranches today.
   But western horse training is still evolving. Today, if you ask a Californio who influenced his or her horse methods, two names are always mentioned — brothers Bill Dorrance and Tom Dorrance. At the essence of their renowned method was one simple premise: “Look at the world through the horse’s eyes.”
   The result is a horse that’s a willing partner, not a beast of burden. Although these profound brothers are gone, Tapadero visits the Dorrance Ranch, high atop Toro Mountain overlooking the Carmel Valley.
   Here, Bill’s son, Steve Dorrance, and his wife, Leslie, reminisce about these two patriarchs of Western horsemanship.
   Tapadero also portrays modern-day cowboys, buckaroos, and Californios, all of whom share in the epic legacy of the vaquero.
   For more information or to purchase a DVD, contact Susan Jensen, filmmaker (805-695-0164), email, or log onto: for a list of locations that have the documentary in stock.

Fingerprints: Discovering the real you
By Kay Packard

   Have you ever looked at the tiny ridges on the inner surface of your fingertips or thumbs (a.k.a. your fingerprints)? Take a look.
Then look at someone else’s around you. Notice how some ridges are very deep, some shallow, some almost too faint to see with the naked eye.
   A magnifying glass is useful for observing the details of these ridges on the fingertips. Investigators and forensic experts rely on fingerprinting for positive identification because it is the only unchangeable and infallible means to identify an individual.
   The friction ridges found on the fingers can also be seen on the palms and soles of the feet. The biological function of the ridges is to help us grasp and hold onto things.
   We can compare the lines on corduroy cloth to the friction ridges of the fingerprint. However, unlike the corduroy, the ridges vary in length, width, depth, and direction.
   The patterns are formed during prenatal life and fully formed in the womb between the fourth and seventh month. Fingerprints remain unchanged in their assigned detail during the lifetime of the individual.
   Oodles of research over the past 100 years — including computers, most recently — solidify evidence that the fingerprint patterns are unique to the owner of the hands. Professor Andre Moenssens, author of Fingerprint Techniques, wrote “Studies done by many examiners have shown that the fingerprints of identical twins are different, as are the prints of triplets, quadruplets, and quintuplets.”
   Now, consider that these fingerprints can be decoded to reveal a message about the unique you. Similar to how the doctor looks at your tongue to give clues about your health, an experienced hand analyst can read the fingerprints on your fingers to define your life purpose and life lesson.
   As a hand reader, I look at each fingertip, record the number and type of print patterns, consider the appropriate learned algorithm, and then describe the information to the owner of the prints. Imagine the magnificence of knowing your life purpose. It’s your reason for being!
   Understanding life lessons gives us a road map of curves, bumps, and dips in the road so that we can handle them with ease.
   To experience a professional hand reading or return for a follow-up session, contact me at 561-4490. I will also be reading hands at the Whitewater Gallery on Saturday, Dec. 9. Hope to see you there.
   For more information, go to my website:

WHS athlete shatters

tournament records

   Alley Reeves, a junior at Woodlake High School and second-year varsity basketball player, shot her way to several records last week at the 16th annual Visalia Invitational Basketball Tournament.
   The tournament hosted 16 teams with play beginning Wednesday, Nov. 29, and concluding Saturday, Dec. 2.

  “Woodlake didn’t expect much going into the tournament other than the experience,” said Kent Owen, WHS girl’s basketball assistant coach. “Woodlake and Corcoran were the only Division 4 schools entered; the rest were Division 1 through 3 schools.”
   Woodlake lost to Sunnyside of Fresno in the first game Wednesday and won the next two games. The team played in the Consolation Championship game Saturday afternoon.

  “Woodlake, with only seven players due to prior commitments, took on Golden West of Visalia and lost by eight points in the final game,” said Kent.
   Alley was selected for the All-Tournament Team, set two all-time tournament records, and tied a third all-time tournament record.
   Most Free Throws Made in One Game— Alley tied the record — 15 — which had been in place since 1996, when it was set by Allison Peterson, also a WHS player.
   Most Free Throws Made in Tournament— The previous record was 32. Alley left that one in the dust after making 41 free throws during the tournament.
   Highest Percentage of Free Throws Made in Tournament— Alley set a new record in this category as well with 80 percent of her free throws hitting right on the mark.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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