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In the News - Friday, AUGUST 26, 2005

L.A. Times goes

'Outdoors' 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] weren’t there…”).
   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:
www.latimes.com/rocksurfing.

Local college student

remains 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 home.
   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 expenses.
   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.

Sharing 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:

  —Preparation. 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.

  —Registration. 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.

  —Examination. 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.

  —Interview. 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.

  —Donation. 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 10 minutes.
   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.

  —Relax 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.

New teachers,

upgrades at TRUS

   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 classrooms.
   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

to players, parents, coaches

   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 the field.”
   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 playing sports.
   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, he said.

  “Let’s be 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'

in Poson 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 tournament trophy.

  “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 much sweeter.”
   In fact, at least eight members of the team are actually related.
   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 tournament.

  “It’s always 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

green-waste, wood recycling

   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 accepted.
   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.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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