In the News -
Friday, AUGUST 26, 2005
in Kaweah Country
Those who live here know the outstanding recreational opportunities
available. Now all of Southern California knows about them, too.
Each Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times publishes an
eight-page section called, simply, “Outdoors.” For the past
two weeks (August 16 and 23), Times writers and photographers, who have
been exploring up and down the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, have been
sharing with readers what’s best about summer in what locals collectively
call Kaweah Country.
Times correspondents have been enthralled for some time with
the Kaweah River, reporting in the recent past on riverfront real estate,
whitewater rafting, and getaway riverside retreats.
In the Tuesday, Aug. 16, Outdoors edition, the feature story
was “The high life,” which described a typical couple of days
at Bearpaw, Sequoia National Park’s only High Sierra Camp.
The story leads in with, “A cushy backcountry camp in the Sierra
comes with hot showers, soft beds, gourmet meals and wine — at a
cost of $350 for two per night. Is this what roughing it has come to?”
Accompanied by a broadsheet full of photos showing skyline,
trails, and hikers, the center-spread story reveals the camp’s history
(founded in 1934), current day’s menu (pork tenderloin, frittatas,
molasses bread, poundcake with fresh strawberries and cream…), rules
and routines (showers required before dinner), and even dredges up some
controversy by making a phone call to a couple of Sierra Club committee
members (“For my personal point of view, I would rather [the camps]
In the Aug. 26, issue, Jeran Wittenstein writes about what
he knows and loves — the river. Jeran was raised in Three Rivers
and graduated from Woodlake High in 1998 before moving seaside to attend
UC Santa Barbara.
He is a correspondent for Surfer magazine’s
online edition and has written for the Santa Barbara Independent.
His recent story, which is “Special to The Times,” was published
in this week’s Outdoors section.
The feature, called “The Sierra surfers,” begins
on page one with three photos, documenting everything from under the water
to walking on water to the granite beach. Then the lead-in teases, “No
boards, no wax, no leashes. Bare feet on a slick slab of granite are all
it takes for a river rush.”
Jeran’s story appears on the center spread highlighted
by a 20-by-12-inch photo of Mike Mestaz, Amrita DeLisio, Deva DeLisio,
and other Three Rivers-raised swimmers “surfing” Slicky. Chock
full of the names and faces of locals — in addition to the above,
Donnie Stivers, Gary Cort, and Devon Ehrlichman are mentioned —
and with what is a rather comprehensive tutorial of how to actually surf
the grand rock, there’s one minor tidbit that was (perhaps deliberately
and quite prudently) excluded from the story… the LOCATION of Slicky!
If you missed the August 23 issue, try the online edition:
Local college student
hospitalized after fall
Max Tomi has been a member of this community since the day
he was born. His parents, George and Christy Tomi, reside on Dinely Drive
and are well known locally as they have been active community members
for more than 20 years.
Max completed his elementary school education at Three Rivers
Union and graduated from Woodlake High in 2002. After attending the College
of the Sequoias for two years, he left home in 2004 to attend college
in San Diego, where he was about to begin his second year.
On Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005, while visiting friends in a San
Diego apartment building, Max accidentally fell from the fourth-floor
balcony to the ground below. He suffered multiple fractures, including
limbs, ribs, vertebrae, and skull.
Max was rushed to a local hospital. When his breathing and
massive injuries were stabilized, he was transferred to Scripps Memorial
Hospital La Jolla.
He has since undergone two major back surgeries to stabilize
his spinal column. The surgeons are optimistic, however, that he will
be able to walk again.
But Max’s skull fractures and resulting brain injuries
are still in the process of change. At this time, there is no way of knowing
how much brain function he may regain.
Currently, Max remains on a ventilator that breathes for
him, but he is beginning to open his eyes and respond to his parents.
George and Christy have been at Max’s side ever since the tragic
accident. It may be many more months before Max may be able to return
During this lengthy recovery period, the Tomis will not only
need to keep the Three Rivers family home running, but will also be paying
for housing in San Diego, which is an expensive area to live. Also, there
will certainly be many more expenses that can’t even be predicted.
What may currently be the most helpful to Max and his loving
family are the prayers of this community and the comfort of knowing that
there are some donated funds to help pay for their housing and other expenses.
Anyone who wishes to make a monetary donation may send it
to: W.M. Lyles Co. (George’s employer), P.O. Box 1391, Visalia,
CA 93279. Make checks payable to: “Tomi family for benefit of Max.”
In the near future, an account will also be established at
the Visalia Community Bank to continue to help the family with their ongoing
It is hoped that the generosity and caring from the community
will give the Tomis the strength they need to deal with this tragedy.
And even if they are currently far from home, the thoughts, prayers, and
hopes for Max to have a full and speedy recovery will be felt and heard
loud and clear.
To those who would like to send an email message to the Tomi
family, go to: www.scripps.org/emailpatient.asp
(Max’s room number is SICU-7).
Beth Nelson and Carolynn Black contributed this article.
your blood: A step-by-step guide
by Sarah Elliott
I have been eligible for almost 30 years, but until a little
over a year ago, I never had donated blood. It was a brave little girl
fighting leukemia that, in May 2004, made me face a selfish fear and provide
my first pint.
Sadly, my inspiration, Sara Ruehling, passed away last week,
two days before her seventh birthday. But, as her parents state, “Hopefully,
significant progress will be made quickly in the fight against leukemia
to minimize the number of deaths similar to Sara’s.”
So don’t let fear or any other excuse keep you from
performing this simple humanitarian act that assists both young and old
in their medical struggles. It’s the ultimate act of sharing.
There’s a blood drive coming up next Thursday (September
1) in Three Rivers. Let’s walk through the process together:
To be prepared for donation, it is best to skip your morning
coffee or any other drink with caffeine in it. Caffeine is a diuretic
that depletes the body of water.
The point is to be well-hydrated, so drink plenty of water during donation
day. Eating within a few hours of donation is important, too, in order
to avoid any lightheadedness or, worse, fainting.
At the top of the stairs upon entering the Three Rivers Memorial Building
is the Central California Blood Center’s registration desk. If it’s
your first time donating, you’ll need to present your photo identification
and know your Social Security number, and you’ll also be provided
with a “First Time Donor” sticker, which ensures the already
kind and professional staff will be extra attentive.
You are provided with paperwork and then directed to a table
located just inside the main room. This is where it will be determined
if you are physically healthy enough to donate.
Your temperature and pulse are taken and you will be asked
to provide your current weight. Your finger will be pricked for a drop
of blood to check your iron level.
For me, the finger-prick is actually the hardest part of
the whole routine. My son, who has Type 1 diabetes and pricks his fingers
for a blood test at least six times every day, just rolls his eyes when
I whimper about this.
I have actually been deferred from donating blood twice due
to a low iron count that, I am told, is common among women and nothing
about which to be alarmed. What’s interesting is that I may not
have otherwise known about this deficiency and have since taken steps
to increase my mineral intake. So donating blood has improved my health.
Following this mini-physical, the next table is where you will
complete page one of a confidential questionnaire that asks for a yes
or no answer to nearly every blood-related question imaginable to assist
in determining if your blood is safe. That’s “nearly”
because in addition to these several dozen questions, you will next be
meeting with a nurse behind a privacy screen who, after taking your blood
pressure, will quickly recite 15 more past and present health and lifestyle
questions for you to answer — everything from intravenous drug use
to traveling or living outside the U.S. to if you’re donating blood
to be tested for AIDS.
Following this private consultation, you will be directed to an available
portable, reclining chair and greeted by a friendly and competent nurse
who will attend to you throughout the donation process, which takes about
They will ask you if you have an arm preference and any allergies
to iodine, tape, or natural latex rubber. A tourniquet will be placed
on the arm and it will be cleansed with Betadyne.
You will be provided with a foam cylinder to squeeze and
informed when the needle is about to be inserted into your arm, which
entails another brief prick of the skin. I’ve learned that at this
point if I don’t look at my arm, all nervousness and queasiness
is alleviated by just not watching the procedure or seeing anybody else’s
blood being drawn.
The blood is gravity-fed through tubing into a plastic bag
that is placed below the chair. You sit in a reclined position and squeeze
the foam object in your hand gently every five seconds or so.
and replenish. After you’ve given your pint of blood, your
arm is bandaged in your choice of color wrap and you are provided with
post-donation instructions (stay hydrated, easy on the strenuous exercise
and heavy lifting) and a phone number to call if you later determine that
your blood may not be safe to give to another person (due to a fever,
cold, etc.). Then you’re off to the hospitality table to rest briefly
and where you can choose from water or juice and food items that can vary
from cookies and Twinkies to raisins and other fruit that assist in quickly
raising your blood glucose.
The donation process takes about an hour to complete. Your
body will replace the plasma (the liquid part of the blood) within a few
hours and the cells in a few weeks.
All of the supplies, including the needle, are sterile and
only used once. At any time during the process that you decide you don’t
want to give blood, you may walk away, no questions asked.
I’ve never felt lightheaded or dizzy after donating,
but sometimes have gotten a headache a couple of hours afterward, which
is most likely caused by slight dehydration. It’s important to replenish
with water after donating as well.
The Central California Blood Center provides the staff, expertise,
and equipment for the blood donations that occur in Three Rivers about
every eight weeks. The Three Rivers Lions Club sponsors the event and
maintains a “community account,” ensuring that any Three Rivers
resident who is in need of blood or its byproducts is eligible to make
a withdrawal, whether they have ever donated or not.
So there you have it. A step-by-step walk-through to donating
a pint (a mere two cups) of your blood to share with those in need. After
all, it could even be you someday.
For additional guidelines on donating blood, see the “Three
Rivers Community Blood Drive” listing on the Kaweah Kalendar page
on this website.
During the dog days of August, when the town is crawling
with tourists and daytime temperatures are still flirting with triple
digits, it seems almost an anomaly for Three Rivers kids to be heading
back to school. But for more than a week now, the nearly 200 students
at Three Rivers School have been attending the “fall” semester
that began on August 17.
This year, there are plenty of changes at the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade
school that was consolidated at its present location in 1927. The current
modernization efforts include several site improvements like new asphalt
in the parking areas, a new roof over the administration building, and
repairs to the heating/cooling system. In addition to the physical upgrades,
the district also purchased a new walk-in freezer-refrigerator for the
kitchen, new flooring and carpet for a number of rooms, a new slide for
the kindergarten play yard, and a television and VCR/DVD player for all
Two new teachers were hired, and Jami Beck, who was a long-term
substitute last year as the fourth-grade teacher, received her credential
and was promoted to fifth-grade teacher to fill the vacancy created after
Troy Hayes departed at the end of the 2004-2005 school year. Jami, who
has had four kids of her own attend Three Rivers School, has been a fixture
around the campus in one capacity or another for more than a decade.
One of the two new hires is Katy Despain, who will work part-time
with longtime teacher Suzanne Rich in the second grade as a team teacher.
Having Mrs. Despain will allow Mrs. Rich to focus more of her time on
reading development, for which she is specially trained.
Manuel Garcia of Exeter was hired as the new seventh-grade
teacher, replacing Richard Lebsock who retired in June. Garcia, the father
of four children ages nine and under, has taught two years in Porterville
and for five years with the Tulare County Office of Education.
As of this week, school enrollment was 190. That number reflected
a few more students than at this time last year and is approaching the
year-end total for last June.
WHS explains the rules
An annual ritual of back-to-school at Woodlake High as been
an orientation night for the two dozen coaches and more than 100 student-athletes
and their parents. The night is important because coaches, players, and
parents learn what is expected during their respective seasons and how
to get more out of the countless hours spent practicing and playing.
This year, the event was held Tuesday, Aug. 23, and began
with a meeting for coaches, led by Frank Ainley, athletic director, and
Tim Hire, Woodlake’s new principal. Ainley, who has more than three
decades at the school as teacher, coach, and AD, reiterated the importance
of athletics and all extracurricular activities for teaching life’s
lessons and developing school spirit.
“Success is not
measured by wins and losses,” Ainley said. “What’s important
is how parents and athletes represent Woodlake High School on and off
Hire, who is a former collegiate and pro soccer player, emphasized
the importance of school first and then the after-school activities. This
year, he said, he has a very clear directive from the superintendent on
how to monitor attendance and academic performance that will determine
whether an athlete can practice and play.
The highlight of the evening was a very animated presentation
by Roger Blake, an executive with the California Interscholastic Federation
(CIF). Blake, a former championship basketball coach, has a program that
is tailored to help coaches, athletes, and parents get the most out of
Blake told a standing-room-only crowd that parents and coaches
need to maintain control at all times, especially during games, because
they are the role models for the student players.
Blake said the biggest problem comes from the unrealistic expectations
of the parents.
“As adults, we
tend to forget why kids play sports,” Blake said.
A lot of parents think it’s a way to get a college scholarship,
so playing time and performance in a game get blown out of proportion,
realistic and realize that less than one percent of all high school players
will get a college scholarship,” Blake said. “The number-one
reason kids play sports is to have fun.”
The bottom line, Blake said, is that kids want their parents
to be supportive, cheer for the players, and be good sports.
“I guarantee you
that refs, umpires, and coaches are going to screw up because they are
only human,” Blake said. “We all need to respect our coaches
and the officials for the job they do and remember that good sports are
the real winners.”
Pizza Factory: 'They're awesome'
Oak summer softball league
It was way back in 2000 when they last won the Poison Oak
League title, but in 2005, the Pizza Factory’s “Doughboys”
not only finished first in league play, but also won the coveted post-season
“Our guys really
came together and played some outstanding games when we needed it most,”
said Edmund Pena, longtime manager of the team. “We’re just
one big family out there, and it that makes winning those trophies that
In fact, at least eight members of the team are actually
It’s no easy task for one team to win both trophies.
Usually, upon winning the league title after 16 games two to three times
a week, there is a letdown among the players of the top team. Any of the
other four evenly-matched teams can get hot and win the double-elimination
tough to win the tournament, no matter what happens in the season,”
Pena said. “It came right down to one last inning against Village
Market in the final. We had to face the heart of their batting order and
we were able to get them to go one-two-three and out.”
Men’s summer slow-pitch softball has been an institution
in Three Rivers since the 1970s. In addition to the 2005 champs, the league
consists of four other teams listed in order of their tournament finish:
Village Market, Century 21, Chumps, and Holly’s Backcrackers.
Incentives offered for
In the Kaweah Country foothills, the task of property cleanup
is never-ending. In fact, with an extra-wet winter and a lingering spring,
the job this year won’t be done until the next rainy season.
What’s likely left over are debris piles that now have
become highly combustible. To keep property fire-safe, that material should
be hauled away.
For an environmentally-friendly method of disposal of the
green waste and wood, the County of Tulare is offering fee discounts at
each of its three landfills. For a discounted “tipping fee,”
the load must contain only wood and green waste or be separated from other
trash in the same load.
The county defines “green” waste as that material
that comes from residential cleanup of landscaping, tree trimmings, and
general yard maintenance. Yucca leaves, bamboo, and palm fronds are not
Other materials that qualify for wood and green waste come
from construction, furniture-making, and the manufacture of other wood
products. Treated woods are not accepted.
Once the material is collected at the landfill, a vendor
grinds and removes it from the site. It is then recycled as compost or
sold to a cogeneration facility as fuel.
For more information, call the Resource Management Agency,
733-6291 or visit: www.tularecountyrecycles.com.