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  In the News - Friday, AUGUST 20, 2004

The Best of Kaweah Country

2004 readers' poll results --

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Go to: The Best of Kaweah Country

 

No candidates,

no incumbents
file for local

school board

   Following the hotly contested 2002 election when six candidates ran for three seats, the upcoming election for two trustees on the Three Rivers School board failed to attract even a single candidate. Incumbents Kaye Cannarozzi and Elizabeth LaMar declined to seek reelection.

  “In the next week, Three Rivers Union School will be receiving a letter from the county instructing the local board how they will fill the vacancies,” said Garyalynn Wilhelm, business manager for the Tulare County Office of Education. “The first step is to officially notify the community that applications for the two seats are being accepted.”
   Wilhelm said that review of the applications, discussion about the candidates, and the vote to appoint must all be done at a public meeting. The deadline for making the appointments is prior to the November 5 general election.
   The 191-student, kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, organized in 1927, returned to classes on Wednesday, Aug. 18.
   Interested applicants for the board of trustees should contact the TRUS office, 561-4466, for more information.

LOST AND FOUND:
Missing Dorst camper rescued


  Tears of distress turned to tears of joy as a missing camper was reunited with his family late Monday afternoon (August 16). The camper, Bob Gnewuch (pronounced NEW-wah), 39, had been missing since Saturday, Aug. 14.
   Bob, his wife, and their five children had been camping all week in Dorst Campground with a group from the Grace Church of Orange. On Saturday, when his wife, Diane, failed to returned from a morning jog, Bob and his 17-year-old son went their separate ways to search for her.
   Jacob found his mom, who had slipped off-trail into a ravine. Both returned to camp.
   Bob, however, realized he was lost and informed the family via a walky-talky he had in his possession. The family contacted the National Park Service.   

  Thirteen rangers and a helicopter team searched until dark Saturday night. There was no more contact with Bob because the batteries in his walky-talky reportedly gave out.
   On Sunday morning, Aug. 15, more than 24 park employees participated in the search, using two helicopters, two search-dog teams, and accompanied by eight searchers from Yosemite National Park, and numerous other volunteers on the ground. Again, the search was suspended at dark.
   As the search resumed at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, it had grown to more than 60 people. A helicopter from the California Highway Patrol with infrared heat-sensing equipment was added to the fleet.
   It was no easy feat, but by Monday, Bob reached the uppermost reaches of the North Fork of the Kaweah River. In the sand on the shore, he wrote his name, a clue that ground teams would later find.
   Bob remained at the river and by late afternoon, members of the search party located him, uninjured, but tired and dehydrated. A helicopter was summoned and the lost camper was soon reunited with his family and friends at Dorst Campground.

                      STAYING FOUND


   A few simple guidelines can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience in wilderness areas:

  —Don’t venture off the trail.

  —Don’t hike alone.

  —If going cross-country, carry a topographic map and compass and know how to use them.

  —Leave a detailed itinerary and designated time of return with a responsible person and don’t change plans.

  —Know the limitations of your body and your equipment and don’t exceed them.

  —If lost, stay put and remain calm. It conserves your energy and gives searchers a better chance of finding you. Find water; build a simple shelter.


Wildland fire in Sequoia

National Forest contained

   The evacuations are lifted and the giant sequoias and homes were spared, but the Deep Fire scorched 3,143 acres before it was brought under control. The fire, located along Highway 190 about 16 miles east of Springville started under suspicious circumstances during the early evening on Thursday, Aug. 12.
   Fire investigators have determined that the fire began near a popular Tule River swimming spot called the “Peace Hole.” A reward is being offered for information that assists in the apprehension of a suspect.
   The Deep Fire burned more than 3,000 acres, but no structures were destroyed. Highway 190 east of Springville, Bear Creek Road, Wishon Road, and several campgrounds were closed.
   Most of the roads have reopened — the majority with limited access — but the county, state, and Forest Service campgrounds affected by the fire remain closed.
   The cost of suppression has escalated to more than $6.3 million. Equipment included 41 engines, seven helicopters, and four bulldozers; personnel consisted of 961 people, including 17 crews.
   To report information about the origin of the Deep Fire, call the Sequoia National Forest dispatch, 781-5780.

Skateboarders work

toward skate freedom

 

BY JOHN ELLIOTT

WOODLAKE— In Woodlake, there was a battle brewing between cops and kids and, fortunately, it wasn’t about gangs or drugs. It’s about where a couple of dozen kids, ages 10 to 17, might legally ride their skateboards in Woodlake.
   The problem is not new to Woodlake or hundreds of other towns all across America. Thanks to the increasing exposure of the X Games on ESPN television, a legion of pro skaters on tour, and complete lines of clothing and accessories devoted to the sport, skateboarding is here to stay.
   Toni Lenz, a candidate for Woodlake City Council, said she first became aware of the skaters’ plight when she noticed that they were showing up at council meetings usually attended by only a handful of participants.

  “I was really touched by their willingness to sit through an entire council meeting just to be heard,” Lenz said. “These are essentially good kids who are at that age when they are being pressured to join gangs and do drugs.”
   Lenz felt compelled to help and has become a liaison for the skateboarders in their dealings with city officials.

  “We don’t want to join a gang or do drugs,” one of the skaters told the city council. “We just want to skate.”
   In 2002, acting on several complaints, the City of Woodlake enacted an ordinance that made it illegal to skate on posted public or private property.
   Part of the excitement and appeal of skateboarding is that, with experience, skaters perform tricks on railings, raised surfaces, and stairs. Bumps, bruises, grinds, and injuries are like badges of honor among the self-proclaimed “cement shredders.”
City officials said the intention of the ordinance is to prevent injuries and minimize property damage.

  “They [the skateboarders] have really done some damage to the steps at City Hall,” said Ruth Gonzales, city clerk.
   But Lenz believes the kids are sincere and just want a safe place to ride their skateboards. Miguel “Mick” Garcia, a junior at Woodlake High School and the quasi-spokesperson of the group of skaters, told Lenz he wasn’t aware of Woodlake’s law until recently.
   Lenz, a CASA volunteer, translator, and a director of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the city has agreed that the best approach is a proactive one. She has already contacted Blue Cross of California and HealthNet and they have agreed to provide helmets and safety equipment for the skaters.

  “The skateboarders did the right thing coming to the city council,” said Bill Lewis, city manager. “Right now, we’re exploring some skateboarding improvements in partnership with the YMCA.”
   Lewis will present an update to city council at the Monday, Sept. 13, meeting.

  “There are insurance questions, but we think it’s a win-win because the skaters would get a facility with some safety rules to follow,” Lewis said.
   Working with Onshore Surf of Visalia, Lenz said plans are also in the works for a skateboarding safety fair and demonstration on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Woodlake city park. The event is being co-sponsored by the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce.

  “The kids are really excited about the demo because a team of skateboarding pros, including Jesse Paez [originally from Visalia], who they all seem to know and idolize, are coming to Woodlake,” Lenz said.

Assemblyman Maze

takes on West Nile virus

   Assemblyman Bill Maze (R-34th District) — who represents Tulare, Kern, San Bernardino, and Inyo counties — has been named co-chair of the Select Committee on West Nile Virus (WNV). Nicole Parra (D-Hanford) will also serve as a co-chair.
   As of Tuesday, Aug. 17, WNV has been detected in 1,447 dead birds, including three in Tulare County, as well as 414 “pools” of mosquitoes and 200 sentinel chickens statewide. In addition, one Visalia resident has tested positive for the disease, which presents flu-like symptoms, but can lead to encephalitis in the most vulnerable of victims.
   To date 41 of California’s 58 counties have been affected by the outbreak.

Highway 99 takes step

toward interstate status

   On Thursday, Aug. 12, the state Assembly passed Joint Resolution 63 by a vote of 77-0, which creates a consensus opinion in the state Legislature regarding Highway 99 by urging Congress, the President, and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to designate it as an interstate.

  “Highway 99 has dangerously narrow lanes and is overburdened with trucks, commuters, and other travelers,” cited Assemblyman Bill Maze. “Major improvements are necessary and an interstate designation will make Highway 99 eligible for federal interstate funding.”
   As a major transportation artery, Maze said, a designation as an interstate would help vitalize the Central Valley.

ROADSIDE

ATTRACTIONS


BIG ORANGE:

One-of-a-kind… almost

BY JOHN ELLIOTT

   Of all the items throughout the history of the past century, none have contributed more to the popular notion that California was a semi-tropical paradise than that of the orange. Hammond’s “Big Orange” in Lemon Cove is a roadside vestige of an era when growing and selling oranges was reserved for the gentleman farmer who, after the trees matured, did little more than harvest the money from the trees.
   Ask any citrus grower and, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Orange crops, like all agriculture, are subject to finicky markets, and one extended winter freeze could wipe out an entire operation.
   But selling oranges at roadside stands in California is a long-standing tradition. In the 1950s, well before Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s, the concrete oranges came to symbolize where customers could buy just-picked citrus and order fresh-squeezed juice and a hamburger, too.
   In 1966, William “Bill” Hammond, a building contractor, built the concrete orange in Lemon Cove, two years after he moved his family to this area from Reseda.

  “My father got the idea to build the orange from the several that were found along old Highway 99,” recalled John Hammond, who on most days can be found tending the family-owned orange stand. “He passed away five years ago and now the stand belongs to my sister. She does all the paperwork and I stock the oranges and collect the money.”
   There used to be hundreds of these concrete oranges along Highway 99 because two burger outfits — Mammoth Orange and the smaller Giant Orange — both used them in their building’s logo to attract customers. These original fast-food joints were shaped like citrus and painted a bright, hit-the-brakes orange.
   When the new, wider, and realigned Highway 99 was built, the giant oranges, which once were located all up and down California’s Central Valley, slowly disappeared. With improved highways comes limited access; drivers can’t enter or exit except at designated on- and off-ramps.
   The classic, original architecture that was designed to convince travelers to spontaneously turn off the highway into their parking lots has since made way for 100-foot tall signs along the freeway announcing yet another off-ramp full of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Jack in the Box, and Taco Bell restaurants.
                                                   * * *
There is one original Mammoth Orange left, which has been located on Highway 99 at the Highway 152 junction since 1954. Homemade hamburgers and fresh-squeezed orange juice still top the menu.
   But even a Mammoth Orange can’t stop progress and its days are numbered. This stretch of Highway 99 is also slated to be upgraded to a freeway, which means no direct access to the Mammoth Orange.
                                                   * * *
   For many years, the Hammonds had 20 acres of navel oranges. Today, the family grove is down to four acres and contains about 640 trees, some of which are 60 years old. For the summer-ripening Valencia, Hammond buys most of those oranges from an Exeter grower.
   Hammond says the receipts from the stand pay all the bills with a little left over.

  “Most days in the summer you have your tourists who pull over to snap a photo,” Hammond said. “Some stop just to take a picture and don’t even buy anything.”
   Hammond says the most famous tourist who ever stopped was the television host of the PBS series California’s Gold.

  “One day last year, after doing a story in Sequoia Park, Huell Howser stopped by and interviewed my sister about our place,” Hammond said. “He said he was interested in the old concrete oranges.”
   Hammond also said that Howser nearly caused an accident when a passerby recognized him and made a U-turn in front of oncoming traffic on Highway 198.

  “That guy told Huell Howser he had always wanted to meet him and shake his hand,” Hammond said. “He must have really wanted to meet him bad because he nearly killed himself trying to do it.”

Kaweah Country elementary

students score well on STAR

Majority of Class of ’06 passes

high school exit exam

   Last spring, California students in grades two through 11 underwent weeklong testing in what has become an annual public-school ritual. On Monday, Aug. 16, the state Department of Education released the results of the students’ efforts.
   While California students on average are not meeting state curriculum standards, the just-released results show that Three Rivers School and Sequoia Union School in Lemon Cove fared better than the rest of the state. As a whole, however, Tulare County is performing below the state average.
   The Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test was taken by more than 4.7 million students statewide. In Tulare County, about 69,000 students completed the testing last spring.
   The results of these tests are used to determine the Academic Performance Index, a report card for schools. The state used API scores, based on the STAR scores, to give high-performing schools monetary awards and to sanction schools that have consistently ranked below standards.
   The California test scores break student performance into five levels: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, and Far Below Basic. If a student scores in the “proficient” range, it means that they have a good grasp of the subject matter, according to the California Department of Education. This year’s scores indicate that more than 60 percent of the state’s second through eighth-graders are not advanced or proficient in English/Language Arts and well over half are not proficient or higher in math.
   Local elementary school students fared better than high school students. But the good news is that more than half of the Class of 2006, who were sophomores during the 2003-2004 school year, have proven themselves ready to graduate high school.
    Also released this week are the 2004 California High School Exit Examination results. Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year with students who are now high school juniors, it is mandatory that California public-school students pass this test to earn a high school diploma.
   Earlier this year, the test, which consists of two parts — English/Language Arts and Mathematics — was administered to 10th-grade (sophomore) students. Seventy-five percent passed the English portion; 74 percent passed the math test.

    
SPEAKING OUT:

‘Culture’ must be

preserved in Mineral King

GUEST EDITORIAL BY DONN BREE, PH.D.


PART TWO (OF TWO)

  As an alternative to the alternatives in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks General Management Plan, I suggest that the U. S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service consider forming a committee of cabin owners and caretakers with park officials qualified in the disciplines of anthropology, historical communities, and the like for the purpose of establishing a model demonstrating how the public can participate in conjunction with the National Park Service to the benefit of park patrons in areas where historical culture still thrives and the community has significantly more to offer the general public than the National Park Service, as is the case in Mineral King. Benefits are many for all concerned.
   For example:
—Cabin owners and caretakers are encouraged to perpetuate the living history and culture of the area to future generations, including the skills it takes to live without electricity and other modern amenities that obscure the understanding of what life was like when the Mineral King Road Cultural Landscape District originated.
—The National Park Service continues to collect revenue for cabins in the form of permit fees, which is more significant and more stable than campground and other use fees.
—National Park Service interpreters would not be needed, as knowledge in the community far exceeds that of the Park Service in the areas of natural history, history, etc., thus lowering overhead.
—The National Park Service can ask the cabin owners and caretakers, as a condition of their use permit, to participate in the maintenance of the park, which is already being carried out by the community without being required by the National Park Service.
And there are many other tasks in which the National Park Service can reduce expenses, enhance the experience of park patrons and, most importantly, comply with the intent of the National Preservation Act of 1966.
   There are no losers with this cooperative approach. All parties involved derive a benefit, with the general public being the primary beneficiary, while a national treasure is preserved in a sustainable manner that can serve as a model for future generations faced with the problem of how to preserve and perpetuate a viable contemporary cultural within the context of a historical district.
   Furthermore, it is my opinion that the National Park Service is not equipped with the resources required to manage the situation in Mineral King while complying with the National Preservation Act of 1966 without a contribution from the cabin owners and caretakers representing the community.
   I agree that it is a great public asset to have nice restroom structures, good picnic tables, trail crews, and rescue helicopters, but there is much more to experience in Mineral King than the natural history.
   Cooperation is required in this situation, and I am happy to be the first to volunteer my services toward creating a cooperative effort with the National Park Service to comply with the National Preservation Act of 1966 and enhance the experience of all park visitors.

   Donn Bree, Ph.D., resides in Santa Ysabel and is a summer resident of Mineral King. This is part two of a document that was sent in its entirety to Sequoia-Kings Canyon planners as a response to the draft General Management Plan.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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