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In the News - Friday, DECEMBER 10, 2004

Assemblyman Maze

hosts Town Meeting

By John Elliott

   After being sworn in on Monday, Dec. 6, for a second term in the State Assembly, Bill Maze (R-Visalia) returned to Tulare County, where on the next day he hosted a town hall meeting in Three Rivers. The purpose of the local forum was to update constituents on state issues and to also hear from Allen Ishida, District One supervisor-elect.
   Assemblyman Maze explained to the gathering at Three Rivers School that term limits in state government has led to a lot of inexperience in Sacramento. Under the statute, an assemblyman can serve only three terms or six years and only two terms or eight years as a state senator.

  “Currently, there are 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans in the State Assembly and that represents the identical numbers of the preceding class,” Maze said. “Republicans couldn’t gain any seats and the Democrats didn’t lose any. This simply means we have to reaffirm our resolve to work in a bipartisan fashion.”
   Assemblyman Maze said that this week he introduced three new bills. The first bill would allow for a split in California electoral votes — making California less an “ATM machine for presidential candidates” and instead a battleground commanding more of a role in the election process.
   The second bill, he said, would relegate State Assembly, State Senate, and Congressional reapportionment to a committee of retired judges.

  “If this bill passes,” Maze said, “there would be more competitive races and not so many safe seats.”
The third piece of legislation, Maze said, would allow the hunting of mountain lions.

  “The mountain lion population has been grossly underestimated in every area of California,” Maze said. “This piece of legislation would allow the state to issue two permits per county per year.”
   Assemblyman Maze also introduced Supervisor-elect Allen Ishida who made some remarks on his background and why he was elected over his opponent.

  “I think the people of Three Rivers realized that I was the more conservative candidate, a staunch defender of property rights, and will bring more continuity to the office,” Ishida said. “I’m not going to run for any other office. I’m hoping to serve at least three terms.”
   Ishida will be sworn in a special ceremony at the regular meeting of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors on January 4. He said he plans to continue having Three Rivers town meetings with the first one tentatively scheduled for the fourth Tuesday in February.

Wild weather: Storms

bring rain and snow

   Earlier this week, just in time for an even whiter holiday season, a spate of winter storms brought heavy snow to elevations above 9,000 feet and 1.12 inches of new rainfall to the foothills in and around Three Rivers.
   The storm was the latest in a succession of early-season events that has this “mild” El Nino season shaping up as a drought-buster. The average year-to-date rainfall total for the Three Rivers environs is 5.89 inches.
   That nearly six inches of precipitation is very impressive when compared to last season’s total (December 11) of 3.14 inches. But does that mean your Christmas Day will be wet or dry?
   It’s a little too early to tell but the chance for rainfall during the holidays is always better than average. In 2003, in the midst of a drier than normal year, it rained two inches during the 24 hours that included Christmas Day.
   In the nearby mountains at 9,500 feet, the snow measuring station in upper Farewell Canyon (Mineral King area) recorded 30 inches of new snow from last week’s storms. All that new white stuff in the local mountains eventually will mean great springtime runoff and for now, the opening of snow play and cross country skiing in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   The next chance for precipitation, especially in the higher elevations, is Sunday. Drive with caution, especially on slick roads that at night and in the early morning may contain patches of “black ice.” If heading for the Valley, plan on traveling in fog.

Next phase of construction

begins at Lake Kaweah

   On Monday, Dec. 6, construction began on the long-awaited earthen dike and storm drain adjacent to the Best Western Holiday Lodge in Three Rivers. The project is being completed as a joint venture with Eric Ammon, Inc., of Salyer and Steve Manning, Inc., of Redding.

  The cut-and-fill work will borrow material from the lake bottom and is expected to be completed in 90 days. The construction work will cause little or no delays to Highway 198 traffic.

Lots of holiday surprises

in the night sky

   Wander far away from the light displays and wait for the clouds to part because the night sky is as busy and crowded as the malls this time of year.
   On Sunday, Dec. 12, the Moon is at perigee (its closest point to Earth). No big deal for us inlanders, but the coastal areas get unusually high and low tides during this stage.
   On Monday, Dec. 13, the Geminid meteor shower will be the star of the show. From about 10 p.m. until dawn on the 14th, meteors will be visible every minute or two.
   Viewing of the Geminids is dependent on a couple of factors — no light pollution and no cloud cover. But since there’s no moonlight to interfere this year, all viewers need to do is bundle up, find an open view of the sky, let their eyes adjust to the darkness, and recline in the best direction, which is wherever the sky is darkest.
   Meteor showers are named by the constellation from which meteors appear to fall, a spot in the sky astronomers call the radiant. The Geminid meteor shower appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini.
   On Tuesday, Dec. 21, the winter solstice will occur at 4:42 a.m. This is when the Sun is farthest south for the year and begins its six-month return northward, defining the start of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere.
   On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 24 and 25, the stars are, where else?, in the east, as is the Moon.
   Capella is the bright star to the left of the Moon; orange Aldebaran is closer to the Moon’s right. Above Aldebaran is the Pleiades cluster; below is Orion. The brightest “star,” farther down to the Moon’s lower left, is Saturn.
   On Sunday, Dec. 26, the Moon is full. Called the Long Night Moon, it remains in view from the northern hemisphere longer than at any other time of the year.
   On Wednesday, Dec. 29, it’s the planets’ turn to shine. Mercury and an even brighter Venus will appear over the southeastern horizon at dawn, while Mars will faintly glow to their upper right.
And to ring in the New Year, take a break from the celebration to check out Sirius in the south, the brightest star in the sky. Orion and Saturn are also nearby.

Food Pantry needs gift-giving help

   Again this year, the Community Food Pantry of Three Rivers will be giving toys and more to local families who may not otherwise be able to provide their children with gifts. The distribution is planned to take place on Wednesday, Dec. 15.
   However, there is a need for certain items that will ensure happy holidays for all. Donations of boy-specific toys, dolls and accessories, games, books, balls, family videos, and sleeping bags will be gratefully accepted.
   Items may be dropped off at the office of the First Baptist Church, at the Food Pantry building (on the grounds of the church), or at the front desk at Holiday Inn Express.
   For more information, or if you know of a family in need, call Trish Stivers, 561-4834.

Christmas is for the birds

   The fifth annual Christmas Bird Count in Sequoia National Park will be held Sunday, Dec. 19. The nationwide tradition began in 1900 and today is sponsored by the National Audubon Society.
   Locally last year, 36 participants counted a total of 2,263 birds representing 67 species.
   See the Kaweah Kalendar on this website for information on how to participate in this year’s event or call 565-3124.

Holiday gifts for every

gardener on your list

By Sue Rideout, Master Gardener

   Have a gardener on your shopping list? Well, relax.
   We gardeners always need lots of stuff. Besides the old standbys such as trowels and garden gloves (which we are forever misplacing), there are lots of new gadgets and products we don’t even know we need... yet.
   Have you ever watched someone desperately balancing a watering can over her head trying to irrigate a hanging pot? Well, for about $15 you can provide her with an adjustable hook which easily lowers a hanging basket to a comfortable watering height.
   Another alternative is a drip watering kit ($15 to $40), which runs little hoses with drippers to all the patio plants. It can be operated manually or with the more expensive model, on a timer.
   The serious patio gardener is always in need of new planters (pots and containers). Since we are forever finding that perfect plant at the nursery, in a friend’s garden, or dividing our own treasures, we are in constant need of yet another planter.
   Planters and pots come in a wide range of size and price: redwood: $20 to $50, ceramic planters and pots: $5 to $20, and plant stands cost around $20. You can spend lots more on these items, if you desire.
   Wheeled platforms are nice for the gardener who likes to rearrange. Decorative metal watering cans (about $20) and outdoor thermometers can help round out the well-appointed patio.
   If you’ve heard your favorite gardener’s knees cracking or noticed a limp after a gardening session, products that pamper may be in order. The first line of defense is a set of knee pads, but a gel-filled pad (around $20) may be even more comfortable.
   Perhaps the best solution is a garden hopper (also about $20), a little wheeled bench with a tool caddy underneath that can be rolled around the garden while allowing a hard-working gardener to sit down on the job. Or the stool can be flipped over to become a kneeler.
   An environmentally-conscious gardener will enjoy a composter ($60 and up) that keeps discards tidy and odor-free while fermenting into compost.
   A yard cart (around $30) is handy for hauling materials and tools. A coiled hose ($20 to $30) assists gardeners in making a neat coil from a recalcitrant garden hose. Hose hangers and carts are another solution for the impatient gardener.
   Small tools such as trowels, pruners, weeders, and cultivators are good stocking stuffers. Rakes, shovels, and hula hoes that can be gift-wrapped with big bows.
   A gardener may go through several pairs of gloves a season, so extra gloves are always welcome. Gardening hats and aprons and garden tool belts round out gardening fashion.
   For the houseplant enthusiast, a moisture meter probe ($8) indicates when the plant needs watering, and a more elaborate meter ($11) will measure the pH of the soil and the amount of light which the plant is receiving.
   Gardening books, especially those specific to our California climate zones or to a particular type of gardening (houseplants, container gardening, cacti and succulents, vegetables, herbs, etc.) make great gifts and are available both at bookstores and garden centers. A subscription to a new gardening magazine will please the inveterate gardener.
   More elaborate gifts such as fountains, pools, bird baths, and outdoor lighting may require consultation with the gardener.
   Gift certificates from local garden centers when you are just not sure what the gardener needs. The major seed catalogs also offer gift certificates, and January is the time of year when gardeners start wishing upon their new catalogs.
   So remember, we gardeners are really easy to shop for, and we really do appreciate your effort to feed our gardening habit. HO! HO! HO!
   The Master Gardeners may be reached by calling 685-3309.


Bill Brown
1914 – 2004

   William “Bill” C. Brown died Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004, in Visalia. He was 90.
   Bill was born to Cornelia and Harvey Brown on Feb. 22, 1914, in Jackson, Miss.
   Bill and his family moved to Woodlake in 1957. He was a teacher at Woodlake High School for 20 years and, during the summers, served as a ranger at Sequoia National Park.
   Bill is survived by his wife, Mildred of Visalia, five children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
   Remembrances may be made in Bill’s name to any Alzheimer’s support group.


Winter sports hit

the courts, fields

   On Tuesday, the Woodlake Lady Tigers’ varsity and junior varsity basketball teams scored lopsided victories at Farmersville. Both teams used the non-league game as a tune-up for this weekend’s tournaments.
   Woodlake’s varsity girls (3-2) rode the three-point shooting of Anneka Anderson, a junior guard from Three Rivers, to a 44-13 rout. Elyse Garza, a senior guard also from Three Rivers, added 10 points.
   The Lady Tigers used a stingy “man” defense in limiting the Aztecs to only three second-half points. The Aztecs, in a rebuilding year, were further depleted by the absence of two starters who were out sick.
   Next up for Coach Ed Lafferty’s varsity girls is the annual Strathmore tournament. Woodlake’s first opponent was Bakersfield Christian last night.
   The junior varsity girls also romped at Farmersville, 51-5. Coach Greg Dixon’s JV Lady Tigers (1-0) will face much stiffer competition in the Tulare Western tourney that started on Thursday (Dec. 9) and will run through Saturday.
   Last season, the JVs finished as co-league champs with Corcoran.

  “We’re just about there with last season’s team but it’s still too early to tell,” Coach Dixon said. “If we play up to our potential, we have a great shot to win our league again this season.”
   Coach Steve Katz’s frosh girls (1-0) started with a win on December 2 at the WHS Event Center over Kings Christian (Lemoore), 35-20. Next up for the frosh girls is a December 15 road match-up with the Farmersville JVs.
   On Wednesday night, the Woodlake varsity boys' basketball team opened the Corcoran tournament by beating Taft, 86-61. They were led by Steven Lopez who, again, scored a game-high 22 points.
   Last week, the Tiger JV boys (1-0), coached by David Pasquini, started their season with a come-from-behind win over Farmersville, 32-27. They play next in the Fowler tourney against Orosi, then against either Selma or Fresno Christian, which is decided on the wins and losses of previous games.

  “We have great team unity with the guys really pushing each other and that's what I love to see," said Coach Pasquini. "Once these players get used to new coaching and buy into the system, things will really start to happen."
   On Wednesday, the frosh boys basketball team (1-3) won their first game vs. Orosi in the CVC tournament.

  “We are playing more like a team in every game," said Coach Raul Quintero, who is also the boys P.E. teacher at Woodlake High. "To continue to show improvement is what frosh basketball is all about."

   Woodlake's defending Section champion varsity boys’ soccer team opened their season by losing to powerful Redwood in a scrimmage. Coach Roy Guerra admitted that Redwood, a Division I contender, currently has the edge over his Tigers but that during the season he expects the Tigers to close that gap.
   In their first regular season game, Woodlake (1-0) held off Mt. Whitney, 3-2.

  "These non-league games don't figure in league standings but could have some influence on how we are seeded in the post-season," Coach Guerra said.
   For the past two seasons, Woodlake has defeated Kingsburg by identical 1-0 scores to win two Valley championships in Division IV.
   Woodlake's JV boys (1-0) are coached by Fred Palomo and also beat Mt. Whitney but lost to Redwood in the scrimmage opener. Like their varsity counterparts, the junior varsity is also expected to win another East Sequoia League championship.
   Both boys soccer teams play their home openers tonight (Friday, Dec. 10) vs. Farmersville.


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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