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In the News - Friday, December 11, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted

The view of Alta Peak from Three Rivers

after the snowfall of Monday, Dec. 7.


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)



WHS Tigers: Fall Sports 2009

Team photos and rosters


Town meeting highlights

hospital health care

  After public safety and fire and police protection, there is no more important issue that affects the entire community than public health. At the cornerstone of public health is a good hospital.
   At last Monday’s Three Rivers Village Foundation town meeting, topping the agenda was a program on local health care. So how does the Kaweah Delta Health Care District, which serves Visalia, Three Rivers, and the Highway 198 corridor region of Tulare County measure up?
   In a word, “excellent,” according to Lindsay Mann, CEO of the district. A career administrator, Mann said Kaweah Delta Hospital, once its new trauma center is fully operating, will house every medical specialty outside of transplants.
   Kaweah Delta, Mann said, throughout its history and since the current hospital building adjacent to Highway 198 opened in 1961, has always planned for the future. The original 230-bed facility was actually “over-built” for its time.
   The downtown campus expanded during the 1960s and later the west campus area was developed that today houses the Cypress Rehabilitation Center and the Lifestyle Center.

  “A medically based, full-service fitness center, the Lifestyle Center is an example of how we are changing the paradigm of health care,” Mann said. “By taking some responsibility for your own health, you can do far more than what a doctor can do.”
   In the past, the mind-set of most patients was to simply wait for something to break down and then seek treatment. The spiraling upward cost of that treatment has caused even more people to wait even longer until their illness becomes an emergency.
   That’s why, Mann explained, there is such a crisis at so many emergency rooms.

  “The first thing we do when a patient comes into to Kaweah Delta is ask if they have a primary-care physician,” Mann said. “The cost of that patient’s care could be reduced as much as one-quarter to one-third if they already have primary care.”
   Once in the system, the service and the patient’s health invariably show improvement. To help more patients develop that primary-care relationship, Kaweah Delta operates several clinics like San Juan in Exeter to treat patients who, in the past, often checked into the emergency room at Kaweah Delta Hospital.
   Patients without medical insurance or who are unable to pay are never turned away, Mann said.

  “The care to those who cannot afford to pay costs the district $13 million annually,” Mann said.
   Unfortunately, much of that cost is passed along to those who pay for health insurance in the form of higher premiums, Mann said.
   But the good news is that Kaweah Delta is on the cutting edge for cardiac and cancer care and treatment, Mann said. The district is making a substantial investment in all the latest technology and recently completed a $30 million north wing.
   Even though the district is non-profit, its margin of profitability has been reinvested in upgrading the hospital and its health-care services. The end result is the ability to attract skilled physicians, develop a graduate medical residency program, and provide an impressive level of care, Mann concluded.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida also spoke and asked the community to support the county’s efforts to purchase a new fire engine for Three Rivers. He also said there is still plenty of uncertainty about the county’s budget for 2010.
   To date, Ishida said, of the county’s 4,000 employees, Tulare County has had to lay off five percent of its workforce. Other counties, he said, are cutting 10 percent across the board.
   The next town meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11.

Wet weather in the weekend forecast

   The fast-moving storm that passed through the region on Monday dumped .75 inches of rainfall in Three Rivers at the 1,000-foot elevation. Nearby peaks above 2,000 feet received a dusting of snow, and it was bone-chilling cold all week with temperatures dipping into the upper 20s just before daybreak.
   That precipitation brought the season’s total to 3.46 inches or just slightly ahead of 2008, which had 3.20 inches of rainfall as of December 13.
   On Thursday, Dec. 10, Ash Mountain in nearby Sequoia National Park reported a total of 5.30 inches of rainfall for the current season. Lodgepole rangers reported a total of 16 inches of snow on the ground at 6,800 feet.
   But all those numbers should be moot by the time a series of new storms moves into the region by today (Friday, Dec. 11). Snow levels are expected to hover around 5,000 feet with a couple feet or more of the white stuff in higher elevations.
   It’s beginning to look a lot like a white Christmas, especially the farther up in the mountains one may travel.
   There is also an updated forecast for El Nino watchers. The mass of warm water in the equatorial Pacific actually extends much deeper than was first calculated.
   What that means is a strengthening little waif of a weather pattern that should bring above average December and January precipitation to California and the Southwest. Batten down the hatches.

No holiday program at TRUS

   The annual holiday program at Three Rivers School is a community tradition and the kick-off to the holiday season, at least for families, as it is held during the last week before the winter break. But just as the lights go dark on Broadway due to various circumstances, the lights of the McDowall Auditorium will be dark next week.
   TRUS teachers have made the decision to forego the holiday program for several reasons. For instance, nearly half the teachers at the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school are teaching combination classes, which means twice the curriculum. And, remember, standardized testing is always looming on the horizon.
   In addition, just as the “holiday program” is no longer called a Christmas program and Christmas vacation is today “winter break,” there are students in the school who do not celebrate Christmas. This diversity in the classroom is an education in itself as is the teaching of respect for all religious beliefs.
   And, finally, while a holiday program is lighthearted and fun, preparing for it takes time away from the teaching curriculum.

  “We started talking about alternatives and settled on a ‘Salute to History’ in February,” said Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent. “All classes will focus on some aspect of their history curriculum through poetry, songs, skits, or other creative ideas.”
   In addition, the spring “Talent Show” will return. This will provide the students with a creative outlet to show what they’ve got to the Three Rivers community, as well as give parents the opportunity to see their children on stage.
   Sue Sherwood assures that the holiday program will return.

Woodlake Tigers pounce on opponents

during 2009 fall sports season

   In an era when many school districts are seriously considering cutting their sports programs altogether due to lack of funding, sports at Woodlake High are thriving. Interest in the dozens of programs is the highest since the early ‘90s; fans and players came out to support and participate in impressive numbers throughout the recently completed fall season.
   FOOTBALL— This year, the WHS Tigers, coached by Scott Hernandez and Jeff Beck, et al., went deeper into the CIF Central Section football playoffs – defeated in the Division V semifinals at Corcoran on Friday, Dec. 4 – than they have in the past decade.
Jeff Beck of Three Rivers, the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, credits the turnaround to the commitment of Scott Hernandez, head coach, to build a winning program.

  “The kids want to be part of a winner and it shows by the numbers who once again want to play football at Woodlake,” Beck said.
   Coach Beck admitted it’s not quite the glory days of the Leo Robinson era yet but the team is getting better each season. Coach Robinson, who passed away in 2002, coached at Woodlake for 41 seasons.
   The 2009 Tigers finished 7-5 overall and 2-2 in East Sequoia League play in a season that featured impressive wins over the likes of Caruthers and Lindsay.

  “The players are learning that it takes a year-round commitment to build a winner,” Beck said. “That means hitting the weight room, running, and working out even when the calendar says it’s not football season.”
   A varsity football team’s future is only as good as its junior varsity, and this year’s JV Tigers also made impressive strides in becoming a perennial winner. Coached by Eddie Dominguez, the JVs finished 6-4 overall; a 3-1 league mark earned a co-championship.
   When the Tigers have won in the past, Three Rivers players have been prominent in the team’s success. Coach Dominguez cited the outstanding play of Daniel Keeley, Alex Gray, and Tim Smith among his up-and-coming Three Rivers Tigers; his local Woodlake standouts are Miguel Reynoso, Isaac Salcedo, and Jorge Contreras.
   VOLLEYBALL— Coach Tori Johnson’s volleyball program also depends heavily on its Three Rivers connection. Brother coaching duo Mike and Lawrence Cook of Three Rivers are there to assist with all three teams and have been instrumental in the establishment of local club volleyball, a principal ingredient of any team’s success.
The varsity volleyballers finished 6-2 in league play; the JVs went undefeated in league play for the second consecutive season; the frosh were 4-4.
   All-League honors went to Kelsey Ruehling, Rookie of the Year; Vanessa Reynoso and Madison Beck garnered First Team honors.
   TENNIS— Girls’ tennis, coached by Mike Judson, continued its winning ways. The squad took East Sequoia League honors once again.
   In the league individual tourney held at Orosi, Woodlake swept three of the four top singles places and finished fourth in doubles play. Julia Lara was the No. 1 singles player and league champion.
   The Woodlake girls were defeated by Fowler 5-4 in the semis of the Division IV Central Section playoffs.
   CROSS COUNTRY— The boys’ cross country team, coached by Tony Ramirez, finished an impressive second to perennial state power McFarland at the ESL meet. The team captain was Phillip Dixon, a senior from Three Rivers. Alex Law, also of Three Rivers, was the team’s most improved runner.
   Best overall performer was Anthony Martinez who qualified for the state meet at Woodward Park on Saturday, Nov. 28. Anthony, a senior, ran a personal best 17:28 and finished in the middle of the pack: 100th out of 200 runners.
   Leticia Garcia, a frosh runner, was the outstanding girl this season. Garcia also qualified for the state meet at Woodward Park and finished the three-mile course in 21.25.
   Coach Ramirez said the sky is the limit for the potential of his frosh star and can’t wait to see Leticia’s times next season.

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
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
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