In the News - Friday, FEBRUARY
Burglary spree nets
Imagine waking up after a night’s sleep and realizing
an intruder had entered your home and removed your wallet. If you think
that this can’t happen in Three Rivers, think again.
Because that’s what happened to a resident of Craig
Drive in Three Rivers sometime between late last Friday night, Feb. 18,
and early Saturday morning.
Sheriff’s detectives are hoping that entering the occupied
dwelling was the end of a local crime spree that actually began the previous
night when the burglar entered two other unoccupied Three Rivers homes.
In the first of these two incidents, somebody forced their way into a
Skyline Drive residence between Thursday night and Friday morning. In
this crime, the victim reported missing stereo components and compact
disks with a total value of more than $2,300.
Sheriff’s investigators theorize that after the burglar
hit the Skyline home, he then forced his way into an unoccupied Mynatt
Drive residence where he stole more electronics, an unknown amount of
jewelry, musical equipment, and the victim’s 2002 Ford Explorer.
Loss in the Mynatt Drive crime was estimated at $11,500.
“In the Mynatt
Drive case, the victim’s wife is out of town so we really don’t
know how much jewelry is missing,” said Jim Fansett, Three Rivers
resident deputy sheriff. “It is very important to inventory all
your personal property if you ever hope to get it back.”
Deputy Fansett said he is responsible for helping detectives
from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department with a lot of the legwork
in the investigation.
able to trace the use of the credit cards to the Tipton area,” Fansett
said. “We think, at the very least, we can arrest the suspect on
possession of stolen property.”
The Sheriff’s Department is reminding all Three Rivers
residents to lock all doors and windows, secure their vehicles, and report
any suspicious activity by calling 911.
“The guy who we
think did this is not a local, but worked in Three Rivers,” Fansett
said. “The suspect already returned to the scene of the crime at
least one time and he’s liable to do it again.”
Deputy Fansett also urged residents who are planning to be
away for an extended period to fill out a VIP house-check form, which
is available at the Three Rivers Post Office. For more information about
the house checks or any law enforcement matter, call Deputy Fansett, 740-8894.
On Monday evening, Feb. 21, in front of an enthusiastic audience
at McDowall Auditorium, newly-elected District 1 supervisor Allen Ishida
conducted his first Three Rivers Town Meeting. The topics of an informal
agenda ranged from the proposed visitor center to combating the illicit
marijuana gardens that are flourishing on public lands near Three Rivers.
The meeting began with two presentations made by The Kaweah
Commonwealth. The first was a new “Golden Pen Award” that
was given to Jim McClintick, a 13-year resident of Cherokee Oaks, for
an outstanding written contribution to the local newspaper in 2004. In
fact, McClintick said, he has submitted an original Valentine’s
Day composition for the past 12 years, the first two of which were published
in the former Sequoia Sentinel.
The Commonwealth also honored Congressman Devin Nunes (R-21st
District) as 2004 Newsmaker of the Year. Nunes was selected for his diligent
work on Capitol Hill on behalf of Kaweah Country and all his constituents,
which included landmark legislation to preserve and protect the historical
resources in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park.
Accepting on behalf of the congressman was Justin Stoner,
communications director of the district office in Visalia.
told me he was very pleased to receive this award,” Stoner said.
“Politicians are called a lot of things but it’s unusual to
be named the ‘Newsmaker of the Year.’ With the Mineral King
bill, it was something he wanted very badly because he felt it was the
right thing to do.”
Stoner also said that his office is currently looking into
why some of the federal-enhancement money promised to Three Rivers for
a visitor center has not been forthcoming.
“We are urging
Caltrans to proceed with the project,” he said.
Supervisor Ishida said that Caltrans officials are holding up the project
because Highway 198 was never officially designated a scenic highway.
Maze and I will be meeting with Caltrans this week in Sacramento and looking
into what kind of strings would be attached to the project,” Ishida
said. “We have the funding for the project, but they’re not
letting us spend it.”
Supervisor Ishida also briefly discussed several other issues
relative to Three Rivers. He said the June election looks “positive”
for the Memorial District and that the Sheriff’s Department’s
volunteer patrol (VIP) is vital to law enforcement in rural areas like
“I believe more
of you folks should get involved with the VIPs,” he said.
Glenn McIntyre, who started the Three Rivers VIP group in
2002, said the local VIPs currently number 12 and they would welcome having
some more volunteers.
Ishida also said county planners will be holding public meetings
soon to review Tulare County’s Master Plan. A section of that document
will contain the Three Rivers Community Plan.
needs to figure out what kind of growth pattern that you want for the
next 15 years,” Ishida said. “It’s imperative that we
plan what we need in this community, or the county will do it for you.”
Ishida also said he is currently part of a subcommittee of
a “coastal commission-like” statewide committee created by
Gov. Schwarzenegger to preserve areas in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
For the first year, he said, he will be learning how the new committee
will function as a representative of the Board of Supervisors.
The county is also looking at various development issues
including more industrial uses in the unincorporated areas and adding
“We are one of
only a few counties that do not have these fees,” Ishida said.
Next, Ishida said that a private citizen who flies a helicopter
in the area has been responsible for finding a number of the local pot-growing
gardens. With the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, he said, it’s
the lack of manpower that has allowed the activity to become established
in Tulare County.
At the next Town Meeting, scheduled for March or April, Supervisor
Ishida will update the public on his recent meetings in Sacramento and
ask county staff for a briefing on the Three Rivers Community Plan.
For more information about any county matter, contact Supervisor
NPS pays fine
Last month, the National Park Service paid a $25,000 fine
to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The fine stemmed
from a brush-clearing fire that was ignited in Sequoia National Park on
June 30, 2004, after the air-quality district had issued a no-burn order.
It was the first time that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks had been cited or fined for an air-quality violation. The NPS regional
office in San Francisco negotiated the original $75,000 penalty down to
$25,000. An NPS spokesperson said, however, the payment was not an admission
Air quality management personnel said that Sequoia-Kings
Canyon fire crews routinely consult district officials when planning a
burn. But Valley air is so bad that air quality officials took action,
they said, because the district cannot make exceptions for anyone or any
agency that defies the no-burn order.
Kelly Malay, SJVAPCD spokesperson, explained what happens
when the agency issues a notice of violation like the one it sent to Sequoia
“When we issue
a violation, the party can pay a fine, contest the action in court, or
go through a mutual settlement process,” Malay said. “In this
case, the NPS opted for the latter and district officials agreed to accept
the $25,000 payment.”
Both sides agreed that in any burn there is always a possibility
that down-canyon communities like Three Rivers could be recipients of
smoke and dangerous particulates.
goal of the district is to achieve compliance, Malay said. “We’ve
had the cooperation of the national parks in the past and we expect that
Access gate installed
Reduction in pot-planting is goal
In an effort to deter what has become a thriving seasonal
industry in Tulare County and on public lands throughout the state, a
new gate has been installed on the Mineral King Road, about 10 miles from
Highway 198, where it will remain closed and locked until Memorial Day
The new access gate is located at the Sequoia National Park
boundary on the Mineral King Road, about one-half mile past Lake Canyon.
Its installation by the National Park Service is an attempt to curtail
a burgeoning pot problem that has exploded in recent years in the area.
The gate near the former Camp Conifer, at the 17-mile mark,
will also remain closed and locked until the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
In fact, Tulare County is currently ranked number one among
California’s 58 counties with more than 150,000 marijuana plants
seized in 2004. In contrast, Fresno County ranked seventh; Madera County
was ninth in plants eradicated.
Statewide, there were 466,000 plants removed last year, 31.6 percent more
than in 2003.
The mid-elevations of the Mineral King Road are attractive
to these sophisticated organizations that have targeted the Sierra foothills
to ply their trade. When looking for a prospective marijuana grove, growers
place a priority on water sources and remoteness.
And don’t underestimate the seriousness of this 21st-century
crime for several reasons:
crops are not grown by old hippies or teenagers who have 20 or so plants.
These are poly-drug-trafficking organizations that have marijuana factories,
growing tens of thousands of plants.
—Six people were
killed in California’s marijuana groves last year. The plants are
grown where people like to hike and fish and, as the season wears on,
those hired to guard the lucrative crops get violently protective.
marijuana may sell for $350 to $400 a pound, varieties grown in the Sierra
can net $3,500 per pound.
The pot-planting season can begin as early as March with
the cultivation of the site. Planting occurs when all danger of frost
The pot-growing season continues throughout spring and summer.
Sites usually have drip-irrigation installed with pesticides and herbicides
used to control the environment.
Camps are set up for hired workers, who should be considered
armed and dangerous. Drops of food and supplies occur intermittently.
The pot-harvesting season occurs between mid-August and October
and must be completed before nighttime temperatures dip to freezing. This
is when the potential for violence is greatest because so much has been
invested by this time in the venture.
Mailing company agrees to pay
District election costs
On Tuesday, Feb. 22, at a special meeting of the Three Rivers
Memorial District, the board announced that the County of Tulare had reached
an accord relative to the sample ballot mailing failures in the November
2004 election. In Three Rivers alone, at least 602 registered voters did
not receive sample ballots.
Supporters of the local Memorial Building’s Measure
Z, argued that the mailing failure was responsible for a shortage of a
few dozen “yes” ballots that could have made a critical difference
in the outcome of the voting.
“There was confusion
over the length of time the tax would be required and the procedure to
remove it from property tax bills when the necessary funds were collected,”
said Bill Tidwell, Memorial District board president. “The settlement
is great news because the money should cover all or most of the expense
to get the measure on the June ballot.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the Merrill Corporation
of St. Paul, Minn., agreed to waive $15,000 of its fee for handling the
distribution of the County’s election mailings contracted for Three
By offering to pay the fee, the bulk-mailing company did
not assume liability for any wrongdoing. According to Tidwell, county
counsel was able to negotiate the settlement based on data compiled by
the Three Rivers Memorial District.
is deserving of some of the credit,” Tidwell said. “He made
certain that the district’s situation was seriously considered and
dealt with in a timely manner.”
Viral infections are hitting Kaweah Country residents hard.
The most prevalent infection has symptoms of an irritating cough that
lasts two to three weeks, fever, muscle and joint aches, sinus congestion,
and sore throat.
Although viral infections make people miserable, in most
cases they can be treated at home with over-the-counter medicine. Exceptions
are people who can’t control their coughing, appear dehydrated,
develop bloody, green, or yellow sputum or sinus drainage, bad headaches
or earache, breathing difficulty, or prolonged fever.
Three Rivers residents are invited to participate in the
most recent local Habitat for Humanity project. Organized by members of
the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers, volunteers should meet
at the Village Market parking lot by 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, to
carpool to Visalia.
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, nondenominational
Christian housing organization. Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity has built
more than 175,000 houses, providing shelter for nearly 900,000 people
Local Habitat affiliates coordinate house-building and select
partner families to live in the simple, yet decent and affordable housing.
The current construction is a house at 611 N. Locust St.
in Visalia. The Three Rivers group will work until about 1 or 2 p.m.
For more information or to be notified of future workdays, call Bill Tidwell,
Motorists could pay at
Gasoline prices rose more than seven percent in January,
which is typically one of the slowest driving months of the year. This
recent trend has led experts to predict that pump prices may surge past
last year’s record highs when highway travel begins to increase
in the spring.
Government figures show that the average price of regular
unleaded gas has risen in each of the last several weeks, jumping from
$1.78 at the start of the year to $1.91 a gallon in the week ended January
And that’s more than 30 cents a gallon higher than
Prices, of course, are highest in California, averaging $2.01 a gallon.
They are lowest in the Rocky Mountain region, averaging $1.83 a gallon.
Last year, the average price peaked above $2 a gallon in
May, just before Memorial Day, which is the unofficial start of the summer-driving
season. To be a mere dime short of that level in February is not a good
sign for motorists, analysts said.
Retail gasoline prices are predicted to rise above last year’s
peak due to the rising demand for fuel and the higher price of crude oil,
from which gasoline is refined.
lion hunting revived
A bill making its way through the state Assembly would allow
Californians to hunt mountain lions for the first time in more than 30
Assembly Bill 24 by Bill Maze (R-34th District) would allow
the state to issue 116 hunting permit tags per year through a lottery
process. As the mountain lion population increases in the Sierra foothills,
so does the threat to humans and livestock, said Maze.
The 116 permits he’s proposing equal two permits for
each county in California, but the state Department of Fish and Game would
be able to reduce or raise the permit number in areas according to their
mountain lion populations.
There are currently an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain
lions roaming the state. Some evidence — such as an increase in
reported sightings and a decrease in the deer population — suggests
that the mountain lion population is growing.
Joggers, bicyclists, and children could be at risk if they
attract a lion’s attention. They don’t go stalking people,
but if people are doing the wrong thing in lion country they could be
mistaken for prey.
Should the bill pass, people who receive hunting permits
will have one year to kill a mountain lion. Immediately after killing
the animal, the hunter must attach half of the permit to its ear and send
the other half to Fish and Game.
Opponents of the bill say the law would have no public-safety
benefit and that it’s just sport hunting. Attacks on humans are
rare, they say.
Fish and Game already offers a depredation permit, allowing
Californians to kill lions that damage their property, including livestock.
Otherwise, it is a misdemeanor to kill a mountain lion and violators can
spend up to a year in jail.
AB 24 is now awaiting a hearing before the Assembly Water,
Parks and Wildlife Committee planned for early March. After that it will
go before the Natural Resources Committee.
Should the bill pass through both committees, it will go
to the Assembly, then the Senate. Because the current mountain-lion hunting
ban was approved by voters, lawmakers must approve the current bill by
a four-fifths vote.
Public comment requested
Yosemite National Park officials have unveiled the “Draft
Merced Wild and Scenic River Revised Comprehensive Management Plan and
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” and has made it available
for public review.
The plan is intended to provide direction and guidance on
how best to manage visitor use, development of lands and facilities, and
resource protection within the river corridor.
The proposals outlined in the Merced River Plan include user
capacity for the entire 81-mile corridor in Yosemite and rezoning parts
of the river area to protect resources.
Public comment is being accepted on the plan through Tuesday,
March 22. Public meetings are currently underway, in which participants
have the opportunity to talk with park staff, provide individual testimony
and/or participate in a public hearing with a court reporter, and submit
written ideas and concerns.
A meeting will be held in the Veterans Room at the Clovis
Memorial Building, 453 Hughes Ave., on Thursday, March 3. An open house
will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., with a presentation from 6 to 6:30 p.m.,
and a public hearing from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
The Merced River Plan outlines development, recreation, and
restoration projects along the stretch of the Merced River in Yosemite
Valley. It was originally released in 2000, but parts of it have been
held up in litigation for the past two years.
The National Park Service failed to draw proper river boundaries
or show how its resources may be affected by a steady inflow of visitors,
according to a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
Yosemite Valley receives about 18,241 visitors a day on the busiest five
days of the year.
One alternative of the plan would make that number the benchmark
for visitor use. Another would cap the number of visitors as 23,717 —
a number the Park Service arrived at through its research.
Although the park’s gates wouldn’t be closed
if that number is reached, the Park Service would attempt not to exceed
that number through education efforts or announcements that would let
visitors know there are better days in which to come to the park.
The park’s preferred alternative does not involve fixed
The public can also comment on the plan’s proposed
zoning and boundaries for wetlands, meadows, and archaeological sites
around the river.
The draft Merced River Plan is available for review online
Comments may be mailed to: Yosemite National Park superintendent;
Attn: Revised MRP; P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389.
Comments may also be faxed to (209) 379-1294, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or delivered in person to a public meeting.
In August 2003, during a men’s softball game on the
upper field at Three Rivers School, a dazed and confused deer ran onto
the infield and hit the backstop so hard that it broke its neck and died
instantly. This bizarre incident took place in front of dozens of onlookers,
Although no local statistics are being kept, state Department
of Fish and Game scientists have confirmed the presence of the adenovirus
(pronounced AD-no- virus) in deer throughout the Sierra foothills, which
causes adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD). The virus was first identified
among deer in California in 1993, in which an outbreak killed several
thousand deer in 17 California counties.
The disease, although reportedly not as severe as the previous
outbreak, is apparently taking a toll among resident herds — those
deer in the foothills that don’t migrate when seasons change.
AHD is similar to a bad cold or pneumonia in humans and can kill a healthy
deer in three to five days or an unhealthy one in as little as 12 hours.
Signs of a sick deer include the animal staying near water
and drooling or foaming at the mouth. A deer with the disease will have
labored breathing a cough, and a high fever.
The deer’s body fills with fluid, they foam at the
mouth, and they literally drown. Because of a high fever — normal
temperature is 101 to 102, deer with AHD have a fever as high as 106 —
deer can become delirious and try to find a place to cool down.
Fawns that have been weaned from their mothers are most susceptible
to the disease. It is a communicable disease; the virus is spread through
the exchange of bodily fluids during licking and coughing.
People are urged not to feed deer because that brings them
together in large concentrations, encouraging the spread of the disease.
Though similar to human viruses, the deer adenovirus cannot
be spread to humans or other animals.
People are advised to wear rubber gloves if handling deer
carcasses and to thoroughly cook all deer meat.