Kaweah Commonwealth - Three Rivers

News and Information of KAWEAH COUNTRY - Three Rivers,

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Lemon Cove and Woodlake

Visitor Information:
Three Rivers
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Real Estate
Local History
Travel Information
Weekly News and Features
Weekly Weather
Calendar of Events
Property Rentals
Columns/ Opinions
Readers Poll
Newspaper Archives

Live Web Cam of
Sequoia National Park,
the High Sierra,
and Three Rivers, California
Kaweah Kam

AddThis Feed Button

In the News - Friday, December 25, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


Kaweah Country Christmas Cards

Local businesses send holiday greetings

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Wood ‘N’ Horse

train for Rose Parade

121st Rose Parade
Friday, Jan. 1, 8 a.m.

Click here to view a video of Christy, Joe the Drummer

and Blue Suede Dude

   It was a crisp, clear Three Rivers day. Fairly typical until Joe “The Drummer” Parisi fired up the tunes.
   The horse reared and attempted to bolt, but there was a skilled rider on his back. Things were quickly brought back under control.
   This was the scene on North Kaweah River Drive on Wednesday, Dec. 16, as Christy Wood worked in tandem with Joe to desensitize her award-winning appaloosa “Blue Suede Dude” to sounds that may be encountered during a parade. Such lessons can prove to be a challenge in a peaceful country village like Three Rivers.
   But Joe the Drummer with his trailer of acoustics is a one-man traveling band that solved Christy’s pressing training dilemma. For an hour on two consecutive Wednesdays, Christy and Dude have ridden behind, beside, and in front of Joe as he plays the drums karaoke-style and Steve Wood drives the van parade-style up and down the one-lane country road adjacent to the old airport.
   Dude wasn’t too sure about the entire setup at first. But he trusts Christy implicitly and was soon following the drum trailer, even bobbing his head in perfect time to the music.
   ROSE PARADE OR BUST Christy will participate in the 121st Rose Parade, which takes place on New Year’s Day 2010 (Friday, Jan. 1) in Pasadena. She will be riding with the Calizona Appaloosa Horse Club and dressed as a Nez Perce woman.
   Her group will be the 33rd entry out of 92 total, appearing between the City of Torrance and City of Burbank floats. There are 23 equestrian units scheduled to ride in the parade.
   She will be in authentic Nez Perz garb and wearing a black wig and a basket-hat. Watch for her on the left (far) side of her row on Dude, a stunning white gelding with white mane and tail and black spots on his rump.
   The Rose Parade begins at 8 a.m. and lasts two-and-a-half hours. The parade route is a total of five-and-a-half miles.
   It will be aired on NBC, ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, Travel Channel, and Univision. Approximately 40 million Americans watch the Rose Parade on TV, as well as millions of international viewers.
   Christy is the owner of Wood ‘N’ Horse Training Stables in Three Rivers. She is also a trainer and riding instructor, champion rider, certified show judge, and most recently, an author, having published her first book in 2009, entitled Your Best Horse Show: A Guide for Managers and Exhibitors.

Merry Christmas

provided for all 3R kids

   Christmas is all about some special kids… and their parents too!
Two local events highlighted an important reason for the season — giving.
   Christmas bikes— On Tuesday evening, Dec. 22, at Lions Arena, parents began showing up to pick up 38 brand new bicycles to be distributed to disadvantaged Three Rivers children on Christmas morning.
   The holiday bicycle give-away was part of Waste Connections’s annual Operation Christmas Promise. The annual give-away works like this:
   Waste Connections, Inc., the local trash disposal service for a host of Valley communities, seeks out local civic groups and individuals to help find children who might be in need a new bicycle.
   After a target of need is established for the giving, locals (service groups, businesses, and individuals) provide a match to funds made available by Waste Connections. The company then buys the bicycles and assembles them in their shop for delivery to the local community. 

  “It’s a win-win for the company and the kids,” said Scott Shreves, a district manager for Waste Connections, who was on-hand for the Three Rivers gift-giving Tuesday night.
   Bread Basket special delivery— On Wednesday morning, Dec. 23, disadvantaged Three Rivers families attended a Christmas party hosted by the Three Rivers Bread Basket food pantry at the Three Rivers Arts Center. Santa was on-hand to distribute gifts and food items to the children, their families, and anyone who this holiday season is in need.
   For this year, all who attended could look forward to a little more joy in their Three Rivers Christmas, thanks to some caring friends and neighbors.

DUI a factor in

Lake Kaweah accident

   The holidays just wouldn’t be the holidays without a party or two. But when the party’s over and it’s time to drive home, hand over the keys to a designated driver or get a room and sleep it off.
    Apparently, William Bayse, 35, of Dinuba chose to do neither of those options and attempted to drive home after attending a Three Rivers party. On Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 8:45 p.m., Bayse was driving his 2004 GMC pickup westbound on Highway 198 below Slick Rock when he skidded across the eastbound lanes.
   The solo spinout ended when the pickup collided with the rocky embankment along the roadway’s shoulder. The vehicle sustained damage to both the front and rear ends.
   Bayse was apparently shaken but uninjured. He told a CHP investigator that when he came around the bend there were deer standing in the roadway and he swerved to avoid a collision.
   The story was credible but then the officer asked Bayse if he had been drinking. According to the officer’s report, Bayse stated: “To be quite honest, I’ve had a few drinks.”
   After performing poorly on a field sobriety test, Bayse was arrested and transported to county jail where he spent the night.

  “Unfortunately, when a motorist is arrested for DUI, that’s only the beginning,” said Officer Wright, CHP spokesperson for the Visalia District. “There’s an automatic license suspension for a minimum of six months and fines and court costs that exceed $3,000.”
   Officer Wright said that the outcome of the blood test can also influence the length of the license suspension. Six months is automatic, but seriously impaired drivers will get much longer suspensions.
   In rural areas like Three Rivers where there is no regular taxi service or public transportation, it’s even more tempting to climb behind the wheel after having a few drinks. The CHP is asking that especially during the holiday season that friends don’t let friends drive drunk.

  “Drinking and then driving is a terrible mistake and chances are you will have an accident, get caught, or both,” said Officer Wright.

House fire is holiday tragedy

   The smoke and fire that were visible from a large hillside house on Road 246 in Lemon Cove were sure signs that something was terribly wrong. When Tulare County fires units arrived on the scene last Monday afternoon (Dec. 21), they found locked steel gates at the bottom of a long driveway.
   After gaining entry to the property, firefighters found several rooms fully engulfed in the interior of the house. They immediately began to pour water on flames that were now coming through an area of the roof.
   All the walls of the 4,000- square-foot residence were constructed of an adobe material, which hampered the spread of the blaze that had been reportedly burning for quite some time. The fact that the walls were built of adobe also aided firefighters in the suppression of the fire.
   Approximately one-third of the residence sustained damage from fire and smoke. All of the walls remained standing and the fire only burned through the tile roof in the portion of the structure above the kitchen.
The estimated damage to the house was reported to be $200,000 and $50,000 to the contents. The occupants of the house were not at home at the time of the blaze.
   Firefighters were able to quickly douse the flames but, tragically, the family dog perished in the fire. The cause of the blaze is currently under investigation and the fact that the roof only collapsed over the kitchen may help investigators determine the flash point.

‘Year of the Checkpoint’ is in force

by California law-enforcement agencies

   Just in case killing yourself or someone else isn’t enough of a deterrent to drinking and driving, then be forewarned that California law-enforcement agencies are teaming up to conduct more checkpoints than ever before. More than 250 will be held through January 3, and 2,500 are planned during 2010.
   Drunk drivers may be reported at anytime by dialing 911.

What’s open… and what’s not

   Friday, Jan. 1, is New Year’s Day, a legal holiday. Here’s a rundown on what will be open and closed in Kaweah Country:
Businesses— Most will be open. During the weekend, most businesses will be open normal hours.
   Three Rivers Drug— Closed New Year’s Day. Normal hours on New Year’s Eve.
   The Kaweah Commonwealth— The newspaper office will be open Thursday, Dec. 31, and closed Friday, Jan. 1. Newspapers will be available at most outlets on Friday, Jan 1. They will be mailed to subscribers when the post office reopens Saturday, Jan. 2.
   Schools— Three Rivers School and Woodlake High School are on break; school resumes January 6.
   Government— Most federal, state, and county offices will be closed Friday, Jan. 1. Emergency services will be staffed. Park visitor centers normally open this time of year will be open. National Park Service business offices will be closed Friday.
   Post offices— No mail delivery Friday, Jan. 1. Normal collection hours on New Year’s Eve, but window service closes at 1 pm.
   Library— Closed Friday, Jan. 1.
   Banks— Closed Jan. 1. Valley Oak Credit Union will be open 9 am-3 pm on New Year’s Eve; Bank of the Sierra will have normal hours.
   Trash collection— Three Rivers Disposal customers whose collection day is Friday, Jan. 1, will instead receive service on SATURDAY.

It’s awards season

in Kaweah Country

   Nominees are currently being accepted for the annual Recognizing Excellence in Entrepreneurship awards, sponsored by the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation.
   The deadline to nominate a Tulare County entrepreneur is Thursday, Jan. 28. Winners will be announced at an awards luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 25.
   Nomination forms are available at www.sequoiavalley.com or by calling Lori Dunagan at 688-3388, ext. 103.

   Nominations are due Friday, Jan. 15, for Woodlake’s Man, Woman, and Youth of the Year; Business of the Year; and Spirit of Woodlake awards. Anyone may make a nomination, but there are certain boundaries to which one must adhere.
   The Man and Woman of the Year must reside within the boundaries of the Woodlake Union Elementary School District. The Youth of the Year — two teenagers, one male and one female — must reside within the Woodlake High School boundaries, which includes Three Rivers.
The Spirit of Woodlake nominee may live anywhere, but have a connection to Woodlake. And the Business of the Year (selected by the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce) must be within the 93286 zip code.
   Winners will be announced in advance of the dinner/awards banquet, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27. Nomination forms are available at the office of THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH or by calling 564-2054.


Flying Reindeer: Not just a Christmas fable

By Rae Ann Kumelos

   You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen. But what do you know about that most famous reindeer of all?
   For some, the television appearance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer marks the true beginning of the holiday season. Written in 1964 as a Christmas promotion for the Montgomery Ward department stores, the story of Rudolph and his flying reindeer friends is the longest running special on television.
   But do you know that behind this beloved stop-motion animated TV show is a true story of flying reindeer?
   It makes perfect sense that reindeer would be Santa’s animal of choice. Reindeer live exclusively in the north.
   Their thick coats and wide feet are perfect for the sub-zero cold of Scandinavia, Russian Europe, and Asia, where 5,000 years ago, reindeer were the first large animals to be domesticated. In Greenland, Iceland, Canada, and Alaska, reindeer are wild and more popularly known as caribou.
   Reindeer became extinct in Scotland in the 10th century, but they were reintroduced to that country in 1952. Laplanders use reindeer to pull sleighs, and so does the postman in Wales, Alaska.
   For centuries, reindeer herding has been a way of life in the mountain forests along the Russian-Mongolian border. Though threatened by economic, governmental, and cultural changes, just as their ancestors did, these northern indigenous people still raise reindeer for packing, riding, and milk. Since female reindeer are the only deer species to grow antlers, the people consider a reindeer-doe the mother of the universe, her antlers a symbol for feminine strength.
   For these northern cultures, Reindeer is revered as a totem power animal, one that can fly through the world of spirit to commune with the high gods. Reindeer is the sacred animal that carries the Arctic shaman to the Otherworld.
   In fact, the relationship between reindeer and shaman holds special significance for Rudolph and Santa. During mid-winter ceremonies, the shamans of the far north would partake of the hallucinogenic fly agraric mushroom – the bright red mushroom with red spots that we see associated with fairy tales and Christmas decorations – to achieve an altered state that would allow the shaman to travel into otherworldly realms. In ceremonies held to honor the December 21 winter solstice, the local shaman would enter a yurt through the smoke hole at the top, bringing with him a bag of the colorful mushrooms, departing again through the smoke hole after the festivities. This entry and departure through the ceiling led people to believe the shaman could fly, and since reindeer also consider the hallucinogenic red mushroom a delicious delicacy, they were believed to fly with him.
   Hmmm, a blessed man who carries a bag full of special red and white gifts down a chimney, lives in the far north, and flies with reindeer. Sound familiar?
   In ancient Norse myth, Thor, the god of thunder and lightning (which in old German are donner and blitzen), also lived in the far north and was associated with the color red. Thor fought the gods of snow and ice to conquer cold and bring spring – and he did it while riding in a golden flying chariot pulled by two flying goats, Gnasher and Cracker.
   During this holiday season, when you see a shiny red-nosed Rudolph adorning a lawn, store window, or parade float, remember this reindeer carries in his sleigh a legacy of Arctic shamans, flying goats, and the god of thunder and lightning; certainly reason enough he should go down in history.
   Rae Ann Kumelos’s “Voice of the Animal” program is broadcast on XM Satellite Radio. Visit www.voiceoftheanimal.com to hear shows, sign up for the daily e-quote, or purchase CDs (CDs also available locally at Nadi’s Studio).

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
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
© Copyright 2003-2009 The Kaweah Commonwealth