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Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

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March 1995 ~ March 2005

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The Kaweah Commonwealth

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In the News - Friday, MAY 13, 2005

Car crashes impact

local community

   A wreath with a black ribbon at the Three Rivers Post Office symbolizes the mourning of local postal employees and the community due to the death this week of Jesse Sindelar. On Tuesday, May 10, Jesse was killed in a single-vehicle accident on Ben Maddox Way in Visalia.
   Jesse, 24, was raised and educated in Three Rivers and, until two months ago, worked at the Three Rivers Post Office. His obituary is on this web page below.

   Last Saturday, shortly after 2 a.m., a 24-year-old Three Rivers resident was heading eastbound on Sierra Drive when the driver’s 2003 Honda failed to negotiate the curve in front of the White Horse Inn. The car left the roadway and plunged into a shallow ditch on the south side of the highway.
   According to information furnished by the CHP’s investigating officer, after breaking an axle, the vehicle careened across the highway and rolled over, landing on its roof in the westbound lane.
The driver left the scene of the accident. The motorist, who requested anonymity, was unhurt in the crash and claimed to be in shock.
   The investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing. The CHP officer investigating the accident said charges against the driver are pending.
   This particular stretch of roadway is notorious for serious accidents. In the past three decades that Gary White has owned the White Horse Inn property, he said there have been at least eight major accidents in this vicinity.
   The critical factors that possibly saved the life of the motorist in this accident was that a seatbelt was being worn and the airbags deployed properly.

3R Fire Station

to be dedicated

   THE OPENING OF the long-awaited new Three Rivers Fire Station will be official following a dedication ceremony this weekend. The entire community is invited to participate in the open-house celebration, hosted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), on Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m.
   The formal dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Throughout the event, the public may tour the station, talk to local firefighters, and receive information regarding fire safety.
   Children’s activities include getting up close and personal with the fire engines and having their photo taken with guest of honor Smokey Bear. Live music will be provided by Three Rivers talent, including Buckeye Flats, Red Wing, and Uncommon A Cappella.
   The event is being planned with the cooperation of many local organizations, including the Three Rivers Lions Club and Woman’s Club, the local Business Association, the newly-created Three Rivers Village Foundation, the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers, and the Volunteers in Patrol (VIPs) of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
   Also supporting the event are the National Park Service (Sequoia-Kings Canyon) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Lake Kaweah). Special commendation will be given to the California Native Plant Society-Alta Peak Chapter and the Redbud Garden Club for initiating plans to develop and complete the native-plant demonstration garden that is at the entrance to the new facility.

Body found

in 3R identified

   EARLIER THIS WEEK, the Tulare County Sheriff-Coroner identified the body discovered during the evening of Wednesday, May 4, on the Indian Restaurant property in Three Rivers. The dead man was determined to be Robert Kurtz, 45, of Porterville.

  “Currently, the cause of death is listed as ‘natural’ pending the outcome of a full autopsy,” said Lieutenant Galloway, a Tulare County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. “The death does not appear to be suspicious or the result of a homicide.”
   Lt. Galloway said that the final autopsy report on the case could take two or three more weeks.

Sequoia Park has

some tough roads

to ‘hoe
Above-normal snowpack will

delay opening of some facilities

   Following all the hype about the impressive April snow totals, most California water-watchers certainly didn’t expect the Sierra snowpack to get any better. But that’s exactly what happened as a result of those lingering April storms.
   The May 1 readings, the last official statistics of the season, are even better news with a whopping statewide average of 152 percent above normal. That means plenty of water for drinking, irrigation, and recreation, but the gradually melting snow poses some mighty challenges for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks as they try to gear up for the annual tourist rush just two weeks away.
   The most immediate impact of the task ahead falls on the parks’ road crews. Kirk Stiltz of Three Rivers and his crew of equipment operators must arrange their priorities to make as many of the parks’ facilities accessible as soon as possible.
   That, according to Michael Botkin, who was getting a first look at the Mineral King area this week, is a daunting task when virtually everything above 7,000 feet is still snowed in as of mid-May.
   The last season that is comparable to this year occurred in 1998. During that El Nino season, several of the local park equipment operators were dispatched to Lassen Volcanic National Park, which was buried with a record snowpack. In 1998, most high-country campgrounds and facilities in the local parks were not open until the Fourth of July weekend.
   That late-opener spurred the local parks to adopt the so-called “80/20” policy, which translates to a scenario that, in certain situations, 80 percent of the snow must melt prior to committing the manpower to remove the final 20 percent.
   But Botkin and his Park Service colleagues are well-versed in helping Mother Nature do the inevitable. It’s just a matter of scheduling.

  “Our priority up here [in Mineral King] is to clear our way into the park-employee housing at Silver City [elevation 6,900 feet] because seasonal training starts next week,” he said. “Then we’ll clear the road’s shoulders of all the debris down to the Mineral King gate.”
   Botkin estimates that he would be working personally on that job through today (Friday, May 13), then he would head over to the main part of Sequoia to help plow a first pass into Dorst Campground (elevation 6,800 feet) along the Generals Highway.

  “Unless we get an unprecedented heat wave,” Michael said, “Dorst Campground will not be open in time for the Memorial Day weekend.”
   Cold Springs Campground in Mineral King and, possibly, the entire Mineral King valley are also likely to be closed to vehicles throughout the busy holiday weekend. Atwell Mill Campground (at 6,400 feet elevation) will be open and so will the Silver City Resort.
   The best way to access the Mineral King valley for Memorial Day just might be on skis. Several recreational groups have already contacted the parks as to the skiing conditions during that weekend. Botkin thinks skiing Mineral King’s upper reaches like Farewell Gap and White Chief might be a possibility into July.
Looking at the road just above Silver City, there remains a foot of crusty powder on two to three feet of solid ice.

  “It’s not that there is a great quantity of snow on the road that makes the removal difficult,” Botkin said. “But with the cooler weather lingering so late this year, there just hasn’t been much of a melt so far.”
   Botkin said he would probably begin plowing his way toward Mineral King during the workweek prior to the Memorial Day weekend.

  “I don’t think anyone knows for sure what the next two weeks will bring,” said Botkin. “Whether we get into Mineral King or not depends a lot on the weather. Only time will tell.”
   The bottom line is that a good deal of this season’s snowpack, the seventh wettest on record since 1968, will eventually come down the Kaweah River drainage. As of May 12, there was 114,047 acre-feet of water already being stored in Lake Kaweah.
   In one 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday this week, the elevation of the lake level rose two feet to 678.14.

TRUS bids farewell

to two teachers

   ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, the Three Rivers Union School board of trustees met for their regular monthly meeting. Highlighting a busy agenda was the review of two personnel changes and a discussion of a preliminary budget for 2005-2006.
   Effective June 2005, the board approved the retirement and a “golden handshake” for Richard Lebsock, the current seventh-grade teacher. Lebsock was recognized by the district for his 19 years of teaching.
   The board also accepted the resignation of their only other male teacher, Troy Hayes, fifth-grade teacher. Hayes resigned to accept another position in the Porterville school district, which is closer to where he resides. Superintendent Sue Sherwood said that concurrently Hayes will also be continuing his education to complete his administration credential.
   Discussion of the preliminary budget was centered on the possibility of having more combination classes and the hiring of a new fifth-grade teacher.
   The projected budget for 2005-2006 is approximately $1,457,000. Any member of the public may request a review copy of the preliminary budget when it becomes available after May 20.
The projected enrollment for 2005-2006 is expected to be 187, slightly lower than the current 204. A total of 20 students are scheduled to graduate from the eighth grade on Thursday, June 2.
   The board also scheduled a public hearing on the new budget for Wednesday, May 25. The next regular board meeting will be called to order on Wednesday, June 8.

Annual food drive

benefits local outlets

   On Saturday, May 14, the annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive will collect food for distribution to those in need within communities through out the nation.
   On Thursday, local postal route customers received plastic FoodLink bags in their mailbox. Postal customers in Three Rivers are asked to fill those bags with nonperishable food items and leave it by their mailbox on Saturday.
   Community Food Pantry volunteers will pick up the donations between 1 and 4 p.m. on that day. For added convenience, a receptacle has been placed at the door of the Three Rivers Post Office for postal-box customers or anyone else who wishes to donate.
   The Letter Carriers’ Food Drive helps emergency food pantries prepare for the summer season. This is traditionally a time when the organizations run low on resources, yet also sees an increase in the number of children who are lacking adequate nutrition.
   Other Tulare County post offices participating in the annual drive are Cutler, Dinuba, Exeter, Farmersville, Ivanhoe, Lindsay, Orosi, Porterville, Tulare, Visalia, and Woodlake.

   The days and times that the Community Food Pantry in Three Rivers will be open for FoodLink participants during May are Tuesday, May 17, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday, May 25, from 2 to 4 p.m.
   Pantry supervisor Trish Stivers reminds everyone that food donations are always welcome and cash donations may be sent to the First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 35, Three Rivers (designate “Food Pantry” on the check).

Californians eligible

for free credit report

   All who reside in California may currently receive a free copy of their credit report once a year from the three nationwide companies that compile these financial profiles. This benefit will be phased in nationwide, but went into effect first in the western states.
   These consumer credit reports compiled by Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union reflect where one lives, how they pay their bills, and whether they have been sued or filed for bankruptcy. The reports affect whether a person can get a loan or credit card; they can also affect one’s ability to get a job, rent a home, or obtain insurance.
   Because of the significance of the reports, all consumers need to make sure that the reports contain accurate, complete, and up-to-date information. In addition, checking these reports regularly can help combat identity fraud by seeing if someone has opened unauthorized accounts in their name or if there are delinquent payments reported for purchases that weren’t authorized or are completely unknown.
   Once every 12 months, consumers may order their reports from one, two, or all three of the nationwide reporting companies, separately or at the same time.
   According to the state Office of the Attorney General, one way to “make the most of this opportunity is to order a report from just one of the three credit bureaus, then wait four months to order a report from another and, four months later, order a report from the third credit bureau.”
   The theory is that be repeating this process annually, consumers may monitor their credit report regularly at no cost.
   The three nationwide consumer credit-reporting companies have developed several ways to take advantage of this opportunity.
Internet: https://www. cra/index.jsp
Toll-free number: 1-877-322-8228
Mailing address:
Annual Credit Report Request
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
   (An “Annual Credit Report Request Form” is available at the above Internet address.)
   To access one’s own report several pieces of personal information will be requested for verification purposes, including Social Security number, work history, home addresses, and some specific account numbers.

The Most Wanted List:

Invasive plants

in Three Rivers

   This is the final installment in the “Weed Wars” series, profiling the final two of nine selected non-native plants that are deemed the most invasive by the author. Previous articles may be viewed on this site in the April 15, 22, and 29 archives.
                                                                   * * *
SPANISH BROOM (Spartium junceum)
   Family: Fabaceae (Legume Family)
   Other Common Names: Gorse
   Description: Shrubby to 10 feet tall. This plant is leafless most of the year with hollow dark green, rush-like stems maturing into woody brown branches. Leaves are linear, one-half inch long, and lacking hair. Bright yellow, 1-inch flowers are pea-shaped and clustered along stem tips. Seed pods are 2 to 3 inches long.
   Reproduction: Prolific seeder. Seed explodes out of pods.
   Habitat: Typically found in steep, disturbed areas in foothills regions below 2,500 feet.
   Background: Thousands of long-lived seeds are produced and remain in the soil seedbank, so monitoring to prevent reestablishment must occur. Spanish broom exists in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River and is expanding downstream.
   Control: Dig out rootball entirely or cut down stems, painting stumps with concentrated systemic herbicide.

PUNCTURE VINE (Tribulus terrestris)
   Family: Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop Family)
   Other Common Names: Goatshead
   Description: An annual plant with low, sprawling growth. Leaves are compound with 4 to 8 opposite leaflets. Yellow, half-inch flowers have 5 petals. Barbed seeds.
   Reproduction: Heavy seeder. Seed punctures and attaches to the feet, fur, and feathers of animals, as well as bike and car tires.
   Habitat: Widespread in California on arid disturbed soils.
   Background: Long-lived seeds require continuous monitoring and control. Puncture vine can be injurious and poisonous to livestock.
   Control: Hand pull or till when soils are moist, when plants are young, and before going to seed. Apply preemergent herbicides to deter seeds from germinating, or contact-type post-emergent, broad-leaved herbicides. Biological control agents, puncture vine weevils have been released and established in California providing moderate results.
                                            * * *
   Now that you’ve seen and read about some of the most invasive plant pests of Three Rivers, it’s necessary to know what steps can be taken to eradicate them. Depending on whether you enjoy ownership of a riverside dwelling, ranching acreage, or a city lot, you will need to tailor management techniques to your particular situation.
   How to get started:
   Try to prevent the most invasive pests from getting onto your land in the first place. If they do...

  —Identify problematic species.

  —Become familiar with the weed’s life cycle (annual, perennial, shrub or tree) and how it most commonly propagates. (This will indicate the type and timing of control methods.)

  —Identify the weed populations that are most rapidly overwhelming desired vegetation. React quickly when populations are small. Target the most threatening weeds first, especially those that can easily expand into waterways or downhill.

  —Determine the best method or combination of methods for control. There are numerous strategies available. If one doesn’t work, try another. Here are some methods:
                              WEED-MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES

  —Site preparation may include “grow and kill,” germinating as many weed seeds as possible by watering, then eradicating them. Or, soil solarization which cooks weed-seed infested soils by covering them with a clear plastic tarp during the hot summer months, killing both weeds and seeds.

 —Manual methods include hand pulling, tilling, cultivation or weed-whacking. (Treatment may need to be repeated as weeds grow and germinate.)

  —Chemical methods utilize pre- or post-emergent/contact or systemic herbicides.

  —Propane torching, steaming, burning, or grazing are practical weed solutions. Proper timing is essential.

  —Biological control agents are host-specific insects introduced in order to feed on weed seed or plant parts.

  —Continue to monitor your property as well as its peripheries for potential invasions.

  —In cleared areas, replant with desired plants to help deter future invasions.

  —Assess successes or failures to establish if new controls are needed.

  —Weed abatement is an on-going commitment as weed seeds can remain viable in the soil seedbank for years.

  —Talk to your neighbors about the importance of keeping Three Rivers as pest-free as possible.
  Melanie Baer-Keeley is a restoration horticulaturist at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. These articles were initiated by Diana Glass of Century 21 Three Rivers and sponsored in part by Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks.


Jesse Sindelar,

raised in Three Rivers,

local postal clerk
1981 ~ 2005

   Jesse Daniel Sindelar, formerly of Three Rivers, died Tuesday, May 10, 2005, at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia due to injuries sustained in a car accident. He was 24.
   A memorial service will be held at St. Anthony Retreat in Three Rivers on Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m., with a fellowship gathering immediately following.
   Jesse was born Jan. 4, 1981, in Tarzana. Shortly thereafter, Jesse moved with his parents, John and Teri, from Southern California to Three Rivers, where he continued to reside until two years ago.
Jesse attended kindergarten through eighth grade at Three Rivers Union School. He graduated from Exeter Union High School with the Class of 1999.
   Following high school, Jesse went to work with the U.S. Postal Service as a clerk at the Three Rivers Post Office. In addition to his other duties, he greeted and assisted customers daily in Three Rivers for five years until his transfer to Exeter where, for the past two months, he has been a route carrier.
   In 2003, Jesse relocated to Visalia. In his Feb. 18, 2005, “Neighbor Profile” in The Kaweah Commonwealth, this is what he wrote about his move:

  “Even though I live in Visalia now, it’s like I never left Three Rivers because I’ve worked here, my friends are here, and I hang out here. Growing up in Three Rivers, we had the freedom to go and do what we wanted. As kids, we had some great adventures and could just roam the hills and always find something to do. The community here is like one big family. In the city, it’s a lot different. It’s more confined as to what you can do or cannot do. Three Rivers will always be home to me.”
   Jesse will be deeply missed by his parents of Visalia — father and best friend John Sindelar and his loving, devoted mother, Teri Sindelar — his younger sister, Devon; his girlfriend, Nicole Sexton; his grandmothers, Florence Sindelar and Patricia Rodstrom; and many uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Jesse’s name be made to Children’s Hospital Central California, 9300 Valley Children’s Place, Madera, CA 93638.

Frances Perez
1933 ~ 2005

   Frances Joyce Perez of Three Rivers died Tuesday, April 26, 2005, of pulmonary fibrosis. She was 71.
   Frances was born in Ontario, Canada on June 12, 1933. When she was 18, she moved to the Los Angeles area to be near her sister.
   She initially worked for the Bank of America, then went to work for a large law firm, where she was a longtime bookkeeper.
Upon her husband Tony’s retirement in 1991, the couple moved to Three Rivers.
   In addition to her husband of 45 years, Tony, who lovingly cared for Frances during her extended illness, Frances is survived by her son, Tony Jr., and sister Mary of Florida.
   On Saturday, April 30, a “Celebration of Life” service was held at the First Baptist Church in Three Rivers.

Notice of Death
   Janet Smith, 46, of Three Rivers died Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Services will be private.

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