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In the News - Friday, September 21, 2012





‘Smart meters’ coming to Kaweah Country

  Southern California Edison (SCE) will begin installing SmartConnect electric meters in Three Rivers, Lemon Cove, and Woodlake as early as next week. The majority of the meters will be installed locally and throughout the San Joaquin Valley in October.
   In a statement issued from the SCE headquarters in Rosemead, the new technology will enable residential and small-business customers to take advantage of new services and cut costs. The new meters are digital two-way communicating devices and a key step in transforming the entire system to a smart grid.
   Smart meter customers will be able to monitor daily usage through SCE.com. By signing up to receive email, voicemail, or text message alerts, customers will be able to track usage against a monthly budget and reduce bills.
  “Over the past several years, we have focused on developing an industry-leading smart meter program,” said Ken Devore, SCE’s program director. “Smart meters empower our customers to become better managers of their usage that will save energy, money, and be better for the environment.”
   The first smart meter in the SCE program was installed in Downey in 2009. By the end of 2012, more than five million customers will be using the new technology.
   Customers will receive advance notice by mail when installations are scheduled for their neighborhood. It’s not necessary to be home at the time of installation as long as there is access.
   During the installation each customer will experience a power interruption of less than a minute. For extra protection, residential customers should plug sensitive electronics into surge protectors.
   Typically, no power interruptions are necessary for small-business customers. Residents who operate life support systems or have other concerns may call SCE at (800) 973-2356.
   The installer will leave a door-hanger that the installation has been completed.
   Customers may opt out of the program by calling (800) 810-2369. Customers who opt out of the program will pay a one-time setup fee and a $10 recurring monthly charge as required by the California Public Utilities Commission. The opt-out fees cover manual meter reading and associated billing activities.
   Sustained conservation, resulting from customer interaction with energy use information, is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming pollutants by an estimated 365,000 metric tons per year -— the equivalent of removing 79,000 vehicles from the road.   SCE is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, coastal and Southern California.

3R commuters assist at crash site

  Several Three Rivers commuters stopped to assist at a solo vehicle crash that occurred on Highway 198 just east of the Kaweah Recreation Area (No. 2 boat ramp). The accident was reported at 6:45 a.m.
   Officer Gosvener of the Visalia district CHP was the investigator at the scene and reported that the driver of the 2002 PT Cruiser was Katherine Hager of Porterville. Hagar, 23, was headed eastbound when she apparently dozed off, crossing the westbound lanes and then crashing into a berm on the north side of the roadway.
   The extent of the driver’s injuries was not included in the preliminary report. A spokesperson for the Visalia CHP said the accident is currently being investigated and a more complete report will be released next week.
   One Three Rivers resident who stopped to assist has a tip he would like to pass on to drivers:
  “Proceeding on toward Lemon Cove, I noted that Station 13 was not going past me to the scene. When I came to Station 13, the engines were still in the bay and the ambulance parked out back. I stopped and rapped on the door and asked the firemen if they had been dispatched to the accident. They had not. They quickly responded.”
   So he offers this reminder: “When coming upon an accident, everyone should call 911. I should have, but I assumed someone had taken care of it. The subjects of the accident lost at least seven to eight minutes (my travel time) to get help.”

Evolution Valley fire underscores wilderness issues

  As long as the wilderness of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has been managed, there have been issues as to the proper disposal of trash and waste. A September 13 fire in the Evolution Valley area of Kings Canyon brought the waste disposal issue to the attention of park firefighters.
   That’s because a crew of five NPS firefighters had to be airlifted into the Evolution wilderness to extinguish a small fire that started at a backcountry camp. Although wood fires are permitted in Kings Canyon National Park below 10,000 feet elevation (except in Granite Basin and Redwood Canyon), there was evidence at the scene that backpackers had tried to burn toilet paper but a wind gust spread the burning material to nearby vegetation.
   The fire, burning at an elevation of 9,200 feet, didn’t do much and was contained at a quarter of an acre. No line was necessary to contain the blaze as the firefighters used their backpack pumps to get water from a nearby creek and douse charred spots.
   After extinguishing the smoldering fire, the crew camped in the area for a couple of days to keep an eye out for hot spots.
  “The disposal of waste in the backcountry is one of the key issues currently being addressed in the parks’ wilderness plan, and there is no easy solution,” said Deb Schweizer, fire education specialist for Sequoia-Kings Canyon. “The preferred alternative, especially in the high-use areas, is to pack everything out.”
   Deb also said that the lack of any ongoing managed fires in the parks this summer as been a concerted effort by managers to keep fire out of the tinder-dry landscape. The local management team is looking to ignite some prescribed fires in the next several weeks but it would take some rainfall to bring the proposed burn units back into prescription.
  “We’ve been extremely fortunate so far and the local parks have experienced very little fire in the current season,” Deb said. “That certainly has not been the case in Northern California where thousands of acres of the Lassen and Plumas forests have burned this summer and towns like Susanville have been literally been smoked out.

Support group will assist with grief process

  When the loss of a loved one changes your life, the only ones who understand are those who have been through the same experience. The GriefShare seminar and support group brings those understanding people together to share, rebuild, and learn how to cope with grief through faith.
   GriefShare is a nondenominational support group. It is designed for anyone who has experienced a loss and is ready to move from mourning to joy again. Whether the loss is recent or a loved one has been gone for awhile, there is hope; there is healing, but it may take some time.
   GriefShare in Three Rivers begins Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m., at Community Presbyterian Church and runs for 13 weeks. Intermittent breaks will be taken around the holiday season and the sessions will conclude in January.
   Each session is independent of the others, so anyone can join the group at any time and attend as many as they like.
   The evening begins with prayer, then is opened up to a group discussion. There is then a 30 to 40-minute video featuring interviews with leading authors, counselors, speakers, and pastors with expertise in grief recovery.
   The session includes small-group discussion and ends with prayer. Workbooks and “homework” supplement the weekly meetings.
  “Grief and unresolved grief are deep concerns of mine, said Pastor Marilyn Creel of Community Presbyterian Church. “Not only have individuals in Three Rivers suffered losses, but the community as a whole has suffered major losses as well.”
  “GriefShare helps us work through the healing process both individually and collectively,” continued Marilyn, who is a former hospice chaplain and the leader of Three Rivers GriefShare. “Grief is not something you merely ‘get over.’ You learn to deal with it and to find joy again. People expect to get over grief quickly. They take three days off work and then they should be fine again. That’s not how it works. It means a whole new life, a new lifestyle. The future you planned ... nothing’s the same.”
   To join in this innovative healing experience or for more information, contact the Community Presbyterian Church office by calling 561-3385 or emailing 3rpresbyterian@att.net.
Reservations are necessary. Workbooks are $30, but there are scholarships available, so cost should not be a factor.

Woodlake’s Twilight Park offers something for everyone

By Holly Gallo

  Twilight Park in Woodlake has been making waves as the “premiere outdoor venue” in the San Joaquin Valley. With approximately 32 acres of land available for parking and 10,000-person patron capacity, a catwalk and platform for fashion shows, and a professional fight cage, Twilight Park stands to produce major revenue-generating events both public and private for the Woodlake community.
   The park also boasts an onsite guesthouse with over 30 guest rooms, master suites, full bar and kitchen, laundry facilities, satellite television, Wi-Fi, and outdoor barbecue.
Management is currently undergoing some changes, including finding a new creative director following Ron Stephens’s departure. While no other details were given, Krystal Madrigal at U.S. Tower, the parent company of Twilight Park, has been accessible as the interim director for the venue.
   The entropic developments in management have not stopped the venue from hosting a variety of events throughout the summer, however. Twilight Park was the scene of the Summer Sizzle free family event on August 25. Summer Sizzle featured food, music, bands, a kid zone, a cook-off, and beer sampling. On August 26, the venue hosted Budweiser’s Super Show, “The Valley’s Biggest Car Show.” The Super Show also included a concert, hop, and bikini contest.
   Among the upcoming events is Twilight Fight Night, which according to their website was “created to bring the best MMA action to California’s Central Valley.” The venue is currently in the process of booking performers for the 2012 fight season.
   On October 27, park officials will be hosting the “Twilight Park Nashville Challenge,” a country music concert featuring 10 rising star acts from Tennessee in a “battle of the bands” inspired festival and headlining a “big name” performer. Though Madrigal did not release the name of the performer, she said that the management team “is very excited.” The 10 up-and-coming acts will compete for cash and prizes.
   On November 14 they will be hosting their fourth annual Support the Troops concert series. Although contracts with potential acts are still in the process of being finalized, they expect to release more information this month.

Celebrate autumn at Concert on the Grass

  Autumn festivals have been part of the human experience for thousands of years. In fact, they have been around so long by the time writing was invented 5,000 years ago, they formed the basis of some of the first narratives found on ancient Mesopotamia’s earliest cuneiform cylinders.
   The tradition continues. The Three Rivers Concert on the Grass, now in its 32nd year, has developed into one of the area’s most anticipated events. Started in 1980 by Dr. Harry Ison, the Concert has evolved over the years from a classical piano recital into its current form, which includes dance, choir, poetry, drama, comedy, and bluegrass.
   The setting is appealing. The audience spreads out on a green lawn under the shade of over-arching oaks with fine views of the surrounding mountains. Most people sit on blankets or beach chairs and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy during the performances. (Veterans of this Concert venue have learned to protect their wine glasses from the small grey cat that roams the crowd looking for an opportunity to lap up someone’s unprotected Chablis.)
   This year’s event features Trinitas, a fine piano trio with pianist Brian Johnson, violinist Rudolfina Avsic and cellist Valerie Walden. They will be performing Beethoven’s immortal Archduke Trio, one of the most accessible and memorable compositions in the chamber music repertoire.
   Vocalists Lauren Adaska and Daniel Townsend return by popular demand, and ballet artist Anna Adaska, whose expressive artistic line is something to behold, will also perform.
Carol Greninger and Ken Elias, whose slapstick routines were the highlight of last year’s show, will be back with another delightful showpiece. (They won’t tell me what they’re up to.)
   Betty Luceigh has a humorous performance piece about Three Rivers in a “what if” universe, and local poet Patricia LaCroix will share three short poems about what it’s like to live in this always surprising community.
   Bluegrass artist Keith Crain, whose fine vocals and evocative guitar should not be missed, takes the stage in the second half, along with Bill Haxton who will present another chapter of the book about his and Anne’s sailboat adventures.
   As always, the Concert is free and open to everyone. We encourage parents to bring their children. Please try to arrive early to account for parking and setting up your picnic.
Bill Haxton, host of Concert on the Grass, contributed this article.

October’s Green Home Tour
Teaches sustainable methods

  Everyone is aware by now that the planet’s polar ice and glaciers are rapidly melting due to global warming. This is something we can especially relate to in Three Rivers since our own freshwater repository, the snowbanks of the High Sierra, are also disappearing.
   Local summer weather reports lead us to sympathize with residents of cities like Fresno. The heat island effects of all of that dark pavement and dark roofs leave them suffering more than we do in rural areas.
   Emerald Cities is a public-private partnership with the Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory promoting cool pavement coatings designed for cooling, repair, and maintenance of parking lots, crosswalks, school yards, and other public surfaces.  Such products can reduce asphalt generated heat by 20 to 40 degrees and reduce CO2 during peak heat.
   Eventually, all new buildings, both public and private, will be covered to some degree by mandates for cool roofs, which can lower the temperature by 50 to 60 degrees versus a dark roof.
   At least one local builder and several homeowners have been far ahead of most of us in this area.
   The two Green Home Tours must be reserved in advance by calling 561-4676. The first tour will begin at noon, and the second at 1 p.m. We will meet at a designated site and form carpools to proceed to the five sites by car caravan.
   The five sites are:
   1. A Cherokee Oaks home with white reflective roof, solar panels, bamboo flooring, and efficient windows, toilets, showers, and appliances.
   2. The first CREST (CA Renewable Energy Small Tariff) solar generating facility. The 48 pivoting arrays can generate 331,200 KW and potentially supply 25 percent of the electricity used by Three Rivers residents and businesses. The project will generate revenue for the state, county, and local area and benefit the environment as well.
   3. The Baer house multi-purpose garage, gym, and yoga studio built to LEED gold certification. A 6.5 kilowatt solar system is mounted on the roof, and a west-facing green living wall helps cool the space. Other green features on the property will be shown during the tour.
   4. The Santa Teresita Youth Conference Center at St. Anthony Retreat. This new facility incorporates every possible green solution in the layout, construction, and building process. Passive solar features were incorporated, and solar panels are planned for the near future. During the tour, details concerning water use, respect and conservation of the native flora and fauna, and other concerns will be discussed.
   5. A small existing rustic home with added features, including a passive solarium with a stone jacuzzi incorporating a river rock wall. Other green features include ceiling fans, efficient swamp cooler, dual flush toilets, gravel driveway, removable exterior window shades, instant water heater, and removable loop clothes line system.
   The tour fee is $15 per person or $25 per couple. Proceeds benefit the Sierra Club’s Kern-Kaweah Chapter and be used to promote responsible planning and save green spaces. For more information or reservations, call 561-4676.
   As in the past, this tour is part of the American Solar Energy Society’s annual tour, the largest grassroots event of its kind. We are one out only a handful in California. Check out our tour and the others nationwide at ases.org/solar-tour/find-a-tour.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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