17 , 2006
Valley Town Hall
Of all the things that Fresno has to offer, one of its real treasures
— a stimulating lecture series — has gone relatively unnoticed in our
part of the Valley and Kaweah Country. But, then, who would expect Fresno
to be an intellectual hotspot?
This treasure is the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall, a dynamic event series
now in its 70th season and as intellectually stimulating and entertaining
as ever. Since it was founded in 1937, Town Hall has brought more than
500 eminent speakers, many of whom have presented unforgettable and entertaining
The series was started by a group of Valley women led by Clio Lee Aydelott
of Hanford. She passed away in 1961 at age 89 and said one of her joys
in life had been attending lectures in San Francisco and later in the
San Joaquin Valley.
In the late-1930s, it was Ms. Aydelott who persuaded Dr. Alan Rappaport
to bring his San Francisco programs to Fresno, and a tradition was born.
A few years later, a local group was formed to make arrangements for the
lectures that suddenly found a very receptive and growing audience.
The events were staged at various downtown Fresno venues before moving
to the William Saroyan Theatre in the Convention Center, the group's current
home. The impressive list of past speakers reads like a Who's Who of 20th-century
intelligentsia with a sprinkling of the truly eclectic for good measure.
Past programs have presented Henry Kissinger, Alvin Toffler, Alex Haley,
Maya Angelou, James Michener, Condoleeza Rice, William L. Shirer, Ray
Bradbury, Alfred Noyes (English poet), Margaret Mead (the anthropologist),
and many more celebrities, including Chet Huntley, Alistair Cooke, Claire
Booth Luce, and even Owen Lattimore, the author and educator who was attacked
by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and later cleared of charges that he was a Soviet
This season's outstanding lineup is no exception as it contains an Oxford
geologist who is a bestselling author, the director of the National Portrait
Gallery, a Stanford science professor, an author and chef, a music historian,
and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. The venerable lecture series
meets mid-month on a Wednesday morning from October to April with December
Simon Winchester opened this season's series with a masterful telling
of the making of his latest bestseller, A Crack in the Edge of the
World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906.
subject of his latest book, earthquakes, is so timely — to Californians
and people everywhere — that suddenly he finds his books on the cutting
edge of a relatively new science. The science that has literally turned
old-school geology on its ear, he said, is the study of plate tectonics.
It's too involved — the causes of the 1906 Earthquake — to explain in
this column, but in Winchester's lecture and book he does so with wit
and compelling context that are easy to digest. His book will be the subject
of a piece I will write when I finish reading its astutely annotated 461
What's novel about attending the lectures is the opportunity to question
the speaker. Of course, one audience member had to ask this seismologist
when the next “big one” would occur. What Simon said is that nobody knows
for certain, but the odds are that San Francisco will experience a quake
event similar to that of 1906 before the end of the present century.
Prior to that, he said, the Hayward Fault, a smaller tributary of the
San Andreas Fault, that trends eastward through Memorial Stadium on the
U.C. Berkeley campus has a very good chance of experiencing a “substantial”
quake in the next 25 years.
“The geography of the U.S. will look substantially different in
the next 200 to 300 years,” Simon said. “In this country, we tend to build
great cities like Tucson and Phoenix where there is no water and New Orleans
where there is too much water.”
It's all about denial and hubris, he explained.
“If San Francisco is going to learn to live with earthquakes then
it must learn the lessons of Japan and be built relentlessly to survive
seismic danger,” Simon said.
The lecture programs are followed by an optional lunch with the presenter
and additional time to ask questions, tell more stories, and sign books.
For more information about tickets and reservations, call 444-2180 or
Valley's 'Main Street'
There’s no vacation
I enjoy more than packing up the car and heading out on a road trip. But
with the price of gasoline, overcrowded roadways, and inconsiderate drivers
in a hurry, these are difficult times for folks like me.
In August we embarked upon our annual 2,000-mile road trip.
And we have a steadfast rule about not making it a pedal-to-the-metal
run on an interstate.
We opt for backroads and scenic byways. We like scoping out
the perfect picnic site each day and talking to locals in small towns
about where they’re from... and where we’re from.
We appreciate every passing train, cows in green pastures,
waterways to swim in, changes in the weather, trails to explore, and long,
empty stretches of road. For 10 days, we slow down the speed of the car
and the pace of our lives and opt for tranquility over road rage.
We don’t make a nuisance out of ourselves by creating
logjams for faster-moving vehicles; we just pull over and let them go
by. Life is so much simpler when removed from the fast lane.
It was our return to the Central Valley that found us on
the most dangerous and unsightly highway of our entire trip — State
Route 99, also referred to as the “Golden State Highway” and
the “Main Street of California.” The steering wheel was gripped
a little tighter and blood pressures shot through the sunroof on this
Central California throughway where the lanes are narrow and overcrowded
with semis and drivers tailgate, speed, and weave in and out of traffic
in their death-defying hurry to get nowhere fast.
There is even cross-traffic in some areas although it’s
difficult to imagine who would ever attempt to cross or enter the roadway
at these locations. The motto of the 99 might read “Stay with the
traffic flow or die.”
Prior to 1964 and the building of Interstate 5, “U.S.
Route 99” was the main north-south highway on the West Coast from
the Mexico to Canada borders. But in the name of progress, the interstate
highway system sent the U.S. 99 down the same dead end road as Route 66.
State Highway 99 is the main artery that brings visitors
from the north and south to Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park. I
can’t say that if I vacationed in this area once that I would ever
come back if it was a choice between risking my family’s life on
the 99 and another vacation destination.
There certainly are no scenic benefits on this stretch of
highway between Sacramento and Bakersfield. If they never leave the highway,
a traveler on the 99 doesn’t get even a smidgeon of a glimpse of
what the San Joaquin Valley has to offer in scenery and recreation.
The State of California needs to make the upgrade of Highway
99 — the Central Valley’s main street — a priority.
It is unsafe and unattractive yet, judging by the amount of traffic that
was on its northern reaches midday on a Monday, is a very necessary state
1 , 2006
Welcome, visitors, to
this summer’s last long-weekend bash.
The three-day Labor Day weekend, where there is nary a room
or campsite to be found, is traditionally the end of the busy summer season
in Three Rivers.
Following July’s scorching heatwave, August in these
parts couldn’t have been better. Seasonal temperatures (daytime
highs in the upper 90s and cool nights) predominated from start to finish
in what has proven to be a very busy and wonderful month.
The tourists have returned and discovered once again what
we locals know: beating the heat is easy because all you have to do is
take a dip in the river or head for the high country.
This has been an eventful summer as several new investors
have taken over or started new businesses just for the opportunity to
live and work in Three Rivers.
Earlier this year, the Lee family from Honolulu relocated
to Three Rivers after buying Anil Chagin’s Holiday Inn Express.
“There will be
lots of changes as we make many improvements to the property,” said
Kitty Lee. “We’ll become part of Comfort Inn in November and
continue to provide the same outstanding value and service.”
Why would someone want to move from Hawaii to Three Rivers?
Kitty said they really were impressed with the giant sequoias and the
opportunity to own a business in a national park’s gateway community.
Their son, Benjamin, a high school senior and Eagle Scout,
was also a big factor in the move. He has his sights set on attending
a University of California campus.
And, speaking of Anil Chagin, he seems content to build and
develop some really great properties then after a few years turn the keys
over to new innkeepers. He has new hotels opening in Hanford, at the Fresno
airport, and in downtown Visalia in the near future.
With each passing day, more locals and visitors, especially
the RV crowd, are finding Mike McCoy’s Three Rivers Mercantile.
If you can’t find an item among the thousands of items on the shelves,
the affable sales team will certainly order it from somewhere.
Among the store’s newest items is a slim cooler that’s
twice as wide as it is deep. It holds a couple rows of drinks, keeps them
ice cold, and tucks neatly behind the third-row seat of any SUV.
What took Rubbermaid so long to figure that one out? With
innovations like this one — and that’s only the latest from
the cooler aisle — shopping or just browsing the local mercantile
is like entering home-improvement store heaven.
And if that don’t beat all, new owners have sealed
the deal and are just about to open the former Noisy Water/Main Fork Bistro
as the Hummingbird Café. They hope to take us all back to yesteryear
when the place was known by that same name nearly 40 years ago and folks
came from everywhere just to eat there and, of course, watch the hummingbirds.
And a tour of businesses wouldn’t be complete without
recognizing once again Craig and Beverly Chavez for the great restoration
they recently completed at We Three Restaurant and Bakery. They still
serve award-winning breakfasts and tempting baked goods while adding dinner
to the menu, too.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Hope you
Whatever you do when in Three Rivers, do like the locals
do and take time to enjoy life. The life you enjoy just might be your
Last Sunday evening,
between the men’s softball games, Lee Crouch announced that these
post-season tournament games were being played in honor of Maile Peck
(1936~2006). All in attendance on the upper field at Three Rivers School
bowed reverently in a moment of silence.
It was a fitting tribute to Maile, a lifetime resident of
Kaweah Country and the Poison Oak League’s all-time number one fan.
She was there in her familiar seat behind home plate when the league started
in the 1970s. She never missed more than a handful of games every summer
until her need for physical therapy led to her leaving town in November
It was obvious at Maile’s memorial service and from
all the reaction to last week’s story in the Commonwealth that this
Three Rivers lady had touched so many. She lived seven decades in Three
Rivers on simple terms in the here and now.
life was all about people and how each of us should interact with one
another,” said one of the scores who felt blessed to know her. “She
would look you right in the eye when she spoke to you. She was honest,
caring, and treated everyone with equality.”
Maile’s world, especially in her last few years, consisted
mainly of the town center of Three Rivers. For Maile, most of her time
in the neighborhood was spent from Three Rivers School to Anne Lang’s
Emporium and every place in between.
Each day, she made her rounds and also looked for a way to
get to the post office, bank, and drug store as needed. Any one of a number
of friends made certain that she also had a ride to church on Sunday,
Jazz Club concerts, and an entire calendar of other social events.
Maile always had something she was looking forward to doing.
Being located across the street from her house, the newspaper office —
in the former Three Rivers Library building where she had spent so much
time assisting her librarian mother — had a very special place in
Soon after the Commonwealth moved into the building in 1995,
the year Ester (her mom) passed away, I found myself looking after Maile.
Oddly enough, it was Maile who more looked after me. She
was not only a one-person neighborhood watch committee, but every tidbit
of news that she was privy to was passed on to the Commonwealth via a
scribbled note on the office door.
Within 30 seconds of opening the office and reading the note
the phone would ring. It was Maile, of course, watching for the very moment
I got the news. Then she would proceed to tell me more of the story.
For instance, if it involved someone widely known, she could
recall the precise date that their family had arrived in town. I don’t
just mean the year, but the month and sometimes the exact day.
Maile’s recall was uncanny. In her mind, some unrelated
event was buried in her memory that she connected to the arrival of a
family or an individual. She gave me the historical context for understanding
what happened last week and every week.
I could go on with many such Maile-isms, but suffice to say
she played a big role in a little family newspaper developing the unique
talent of covering small town news.
In fact, the year Maile left town, Sarah and I had planned
to present her with the Newsmaker of the Year award that we had handed
out each January the past several years. She really deserved the accolade
for her unwavering support and constant stream of news tips.
We hadn’t thought of it till now but when Maile injured
her back and was moved to Visalia, with her obviously went our desire
to continue this award because we haven’t presented it since.
I guess the time I enjoyed most with Maile was going to Woodlake
Tigers football games. She didn’t have much of a problem getting
to the ones in Woodlake because more locals attended but she also liked
to go to the away games at Strathmore, Lindsay, and Exeter.
By 1 p.m. on those game days, Maile would take a seat in
the front office of the Commonwealth and begin our ritual:
“I wish I had a
ride to the football game tonight,” she would mutter under her breath.
I would look up from what I was doing and say, “Maile,
you know I’m going to the game. You can ride along with me.”
“But you have that
big truck and it’s so hard for me to climb into the seat,”
she would say.
Maile. Sarah said I can have her car tonight. It’s really comfortable
“Okay, I guess
I’ll go with you then. I’ll meet you here at 6.”
That was essentially Maile. She could be demanding but it
was never a bother because most folks knew Maile’s circumstances
or, like me, that Maile did so much for others.
She was like an innocent child. She never had to completely
grow up, find a career, raise a family, or worry much about paying the
bills. All she really had to do was be the caring human being that she
was and make her daily rounds.
What we all loved about Maile is that blessed little childish
heart that is buried somewhere deep down inside each and every one of
21 , 2006
ON SILVER CITY…
In the July 2006 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, in the “RSVP: Readers’
Favorite Restaurant Recipes,” is the recipe for Silver City’s
Razzle-Dazzle Berry Pie.
A Topanga reader, who is a regular visitor to the rustic
resort located in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, requested
the recipe as the finale to a birthday dinner he would be making for his
The recipe includes instructions for the pie crust and filling.
What will be missing, however, is the altitude of 7,000 feet above sea
level. Mysteriously, food just tastes better at high elevation.
ON THREE RIVERS FOLKS… In the July 2006 “TC Style”
magazine insert in the Visalia Times-Delta, the winners of the publication’s
second annual Ice Cream Recipe Contest were announced. And the winners
are the Lockharts of Three Rivers.
Pictured in their backyard, Pam and Greg show their award-winning
frozen creation: Butterfinger Vanilla Ice Cream. If you missed the magazine,
the Lockharts have provided the recipe to share…
INGREDIENTS— 6 egg yolks, whipped with a fork; 1 can
of Eagle Brand condensed milk; 2 quarts of half-and-half (or add a splash
of milk for a lighter version); 1/4 cup sugar; 1 teaspoon of real vanilla;
pinch of salt; and 2 frozen Butterfinger bars.
INSTRUCTIONS— Stir together all ingredients except
candy bars and pour into ice cream maker. While still in wrappers, crush
Butterfinger bars into small pieces. Unwrap and add to ice cream mix.
Prepare according to machine’s directions.
ON LOCAL EATERY… Also in the July 2006 Style magazine
is a story on the McIntyre family, owners of the Gateway Restaurant and
Lodge in Three Rivers.
The article describes the family’s journey to Three
Rivers more than five years ago as well as highlights the Gateway’s
menu offerings and accommodations.
ON SEQUOIA AND WALES… A former Sequoia National Park
employee has written an autobiographical account of her life in Wales,
entitled “No, I Live Here” (2006, 94 pages, www.ylolfa.com).
Sylvia Jones retired from the Park Service and headed to Britain for a
six-month vacation that turned permanent.
The story tells of her romance with a Welshman that convinced
her to stay in the region. The book is also filled with enough information
and color photographs on the history, scenery, destinations, and traditions
of the area that it serves as a travel guide as well.
Here is an excerpt in which Sylvia describes a local visit
in 2003: “...We headed for California, where I showed Peter some
of my favourite places in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and
introduced him to old friends and former colleagues.
“We wandered several
trails among the giant trees; climbed to the top of Moro Rock for views
of magnificent mountains; enjoyed the lush green meadows surrounded by
Sequoias; admired the ingenuity of Tharp’s Log (a summer dwelling
in a fallen Sequoia log); cooled off beside cascading rivers; and were
delighted with a fairly close sighting of a bear, spotted first by Peter.
During a hike with two of my Park Service friends, he was impressed by
views from the top of the cliff known as the ‘Watchtower,’
and at Emerald Lake, experienced a very severe thunderstorm with lightning
strikes all around. I had considered the possibility of driving to Yosemite
National Park, farther north in the same mountain range, to show him the
spectacular valley views and waterfalls, but we decided it was too far
in the time we had. For really getting to know the Giant Sequoias and
avoiding hordes of other visitors, I’ve always preferred Sequoia
and Kings Canyon anyway…”
21 , 2006
Hope you noticed
there was no April 14 issue of the Commonwealth. It was the first Friday
we did not publish a paper in more weeks than we can remember. In our
business, it becomes painfully obvious when it’s time to take a
Our “break” was merely a shift of activity.
A busy Easter week without a newspaper deadline afforded us a quick 32-hour
trip to make one more visit to U.C. Davis before our senior decides where
to begin her college career. Time is running out for many who are planning
to attend a U.C. or state university campus. The deadline for one of the
most important decisions these fledgling scholars will make is May 1.
As parents we liked the community of Davis from the
outset. It is within relatively easy driving distance from Three Rivers,
connected to Hanford via Amtrak, and is a relatively safe and wholesome
From a city-planning perspective, Davis, with its 62,000
population, seems to be on the right track. The principal industry of
the town, located 15 miles west of Sacramento, is its University of California
In the late-19th century, the 5,300-acre Davis campus,
the largest in area of the state’s university system, was developed
as an adjunct agricultural school of Cal at Berkeley. In those early days,
the Davis property was known as “The Farm.”
The 20th century brought autonomy as the ag-oriented
college was developed as a separate University of California campus. The
post-WWII years and the demand for more colleges further accelerated the
transition of U.C. Davis to a more traditional university.
At last Friday’s welcome assembly, U.C. officials
told more than 1,000 fall prospects that Davis is now ranked 14th among
public universities nationwide. It was reported that UCD received 33,000
applications from incoming frosh — 4,700 were accepted.
With 30,000 students, Davis officials do not try to
hide the fact that they are indeed a large university. In fact, only UCLA
(47,000) and Cal (40,000) have more students among the nine undergraduate
But “the Davis difference,” these officials
tout, is the small-town family ambience of the U.C. community. Davis is
renowned for its laidback friendliness and the fact that the town centers
its universe on students. This take-it-a-little-slower approach can be
especially helpful to a 17- or 18-year-old from a small Central Valley
high school that has fewer students than the enrollment of their freshman
The chancellor of U.C. Davis is Larry Vanderhoef. He
has been at Davis more than two decades and in its top post since 1994.
Before his present appointment, the Ph.D. biochemist served as vice chancellor.
Throughout Chancellor Vanderhoef’s career, he
has engaged the evolution of the land grant university. That institution,
created by federal government policy in the 19th century, is at the nexus
of all this country’s great state universities, including U.C. Davis.
Today, U.C. Davis remains on the cutting edge of agriculture
and environmental sciences, its oldest and most established college. For
example, it is Davis scientists who have studied the carrying capacity
of dairies in Tulare County. The number of cows per acre is determined
by the potential impacts of dairying on the region’s water quality.
Because of its proximity to Sacramento, U.C. Davis
has developed prestigious colleges of law and medicine. Its school of
veterinary medicine is ranked number one in the nation; the engineering
program is among the top 10.
Davis currently awards the largest number of bioscience
undergraduate degrees in the nation. Its largest school is the College
of Letters and Sciences with 50 majors. The current Treasurer of the United
States, Anna Escobedo Cabral (Visiting Around Town: “Right on the
money,” Oct. 21, 2005) is a Davis graduate of that college.
U.C. Davis also houses five professional and graduate
schools, the most in the U.C. system. Undergraduates may also apply for
annual $2,000 research grants in their majors for an inkling of work they
will continue as graduate students.
Research, the focus of the U.C. education, is being
conducted at Davis and the other U.C. campuses on nearly every aspect
of our environment, technology, history, and culture. The tools that these
young people gain from this experience can help many to be the very best
they can be.
Somewhat surprisingly, given its funding limitations,
Woodlake High School consistently prepares more students per capita to
enter college than any other public high school in Tulare County. The
Class of 2006 has a record number who are U.C. qualified with several
of these students being graduates of Three Rivers Union School.
We hope that all our students will be a good fit with
the U.C. system or any college of choice and make the most of all that
a California education has to offer.
a big world out there...
how to access it
We’ve been maintaining
The Kaweah Commonwealth Online website for three years now AND IT’S
We are finally confident with the success of the site
in terms of interest and visitation. The following statistics are why
local businesses are going to be hearing from us real soon regarding the
implementation, at long last, of lodging, dining, real estate, and “attractions”/shopping
All Kaweah Country businesses will be invited to join
us online on this comprehensive website. We want to introduce you all
to the entire world… the possibilities are endless!
Here is a general idea of who has visited www.kaweahcom-monwealth.com
and why during the month of March (March 1 through 21 only):
There were 70,000 total “hits” in the first three
weeks of this month; 12,000 total visits. There is an average of 145 hits
every hour, totaling 3,500 per day, with the highest being 4,600 in a
day, which occurred on March 17.
Peak visiting time is between noon and 5 p.m. PST,
which can be anytime, depending on where in the world the site is being
accessed… and I’m getting to that.
The most-oft visited page is the Kaweah Kam, with more than
6,000 hits in this three-week period of March. In fact, this week, I found
a link to the Kaweah Kam on a travel website in Germany, stating Blick
auf die [View of the] High Sierra und Three Rivers, Kalifornien.
Just to let local businesses know that there is a demand
for them on this site, the lodging page has had 395 hits during the last
few weeks, dining is at 255, real estate had 281, and attractions had
423… and THERE’S NO INFORMATION THERE for these hundreds of
From March 1 to 21, there were 802 referrers (websites or
search engines) to the Commonwealth website. The top, of course, is Google,
but Yahoo, MSN, and even MySpace are also top referrers, as are the dozen
or so webcam sites that are linked to us, most without us even knowing
we were linked until we checked the stats.
The top searches that Internet users requested during
March, then were directed to our site were: Three Rivers, California;
Sequoia weather, General Sherman Tree; Kaweah River; Hiking Sequoia; Three
Rivers CA Lodging; High Sierra Trail; Flowers; River Rapids; Deer; Sequoia
Trees; and more.
And this always boggles my mind but, hey, it is the
World Wide Web… Here are the countries from whence the hits came
so far this month: United States, Canada, Netherlands, United Kingdom,
Germany, France, Switzerland, Romania, Brazil, India, Australia, Italy,
New Zealand, Belgium, Mexico, Japan, Austria, Finland, Poland, Norway,
Turkey, Thailand, and Singapore.
So, hopefully, all businesses will see the limitless
advantages of being a part of this website.
This website is all-inclusive when it comes to Kaweah Country
information. There are phone numbers listed to receive road updates or
park visitor center information.
Whether moving to or just visiting Three Rivers, all FAQs
are answered here. There is comprehensive information on Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks, including campgrounds, services, recreation opportunities,
sights/sites to see, park entrance fee amounts, and more.
There are day hikes and backpacking trips categorized
by season. There is history for the communities of Three Rivers, Lemon
Cove, and Woodlake, as well as the Kaweah Colony and the parks.
To add to all of this, there are five years of TKC Readers’ Polls
in the archives along with past news stories. And updated weekly are the
current news and features, weather forecast, and the Kaweah Kalendar of
So, if you’re not a part of The Kaweah Commonwealth
Online, you’re really not online at all!
With this edition, we
mark another milestone. The very first issue of the current run of the
Commonwealth was distributed on March 1, 1995.
It doesn’t seem possible but here it is 11 years later
— and now we’re approaching 600 issues.
It’s been a long and winding road but still there are
exciting prospects looming ahead. That’s why Sarah and I are committed
to continuing this odyssey of deadlines and seeing just where it is taking
At the risk of sounding macabre, we’ve figured out
the literal meaning of the word deadline. If you go for very long trying
to meet too many deadlines, it can honestly be your cause of death.
An epitaph for newspaper folks might read: “He (or
she) met all the deadlines and died trying to meet the last one.”
In addition to newspaper responsibilities, add into the mix
raising two busy teenagers; dealing with medical expenses (a chronic disease
struck our family in the fourth year of newspaper ownership), ever-increasing
health-insurance premiums, upcoming college tuitions, running a small
business, the cultural baggage of being a ‘Boomer… well, you
get the picture.
But, ahhhh! The good life in Three Rivers… in all the
places we’ve ever been, nowhere even comes close. So where do we
go from here?
Firstly, on behalf of our family — the owners of the
Commonwealth — we would like to thank all of our advertisers and
especially those who have been unwavering in their support from the very
first issue in ’95. The following four businesses have appeared
in one form or another in every single issue we have published.
We list them in the order that they appeared in that inaugural
issue on Wednesday, March 1, 1995.
Monarch Ford— To us, Monarch Ford
is synonymous with Frank Perkins. Perhaps his long-running Three Rivers
ad has had something to do with that association.
But more importantly he is a Three Rivers neighbor and a
true gentleman who I have enjoyed doing business with for more than a
decade. Frank once told me that in Three Rivers alone he sells more than
20 new Fords annually.
Our extended family has purchased eight Fords from Frank
in the last 10 years. There might be a better performing vehicle in one
class or another, but nobody can beat this former rodeo rider for his
friendly, knowledgeable, down-home service.
Three Rivers Realty— Even before we
arrived on the scene, Jim McLaughlin had been plying his trade locally
since 1990 as a real estate broker. His disposition is downright likable
and he has been very successful at locating just the right client to appreciate
the unique lifestyle of Three Rivers.
Jim, who also serves as the local Lions Club treasurer, is
easing his way toward taking it a little easier. To help him accomplish
this, he recently passed the reins of the business on to Frank Greninger,
a South Fork resident who has been a good match with the firm and its
Realty World / Avant Real Estate— Gerald
Avants, a retired SCE employee, has developed and sold various properties
over the years. Among the constants in his second career has been his
willingness to help others.
For instance, he has rented office space to the Commonwealth
for the past 11 years and ensured that the local newspaper has had a good
Gerald is also an accomplished singer of gospel and spiritual
hymns. If you haven’t heard his latest CD, just ask him for one.
He’s always willing to oblige.
Century 21 Three Rivers— The things
that we have achieved as a newspaper would not have been possible without
the on-going support of this highly successful local business. The firm’s
present make-up is a nice mix of your neighbors, some who were raised
here and others who moved here because they fell in love with Kaweah Country.
When we started publishing in 1995, it was Wayne Lentz who
called all the shots at C-21.
Lately, Wayne would like to play a little more golf and do
some cruising in his RV, so he is turning more of the responsibility of
the business over to David Learned.
Learned, a resident of a South Fork neighborhood that was
originally developed by a group of airline pilots, was raised in the business
so he knows Three Rivers and its properties.
His father, David Learned Sr., was the founder of the local
C-21 office. With a full-service mortgage company in-house, these experienced
professionals can do it all.
The advertisers help make a local newspaper possible but
it takes a village to make it all work.
Next time, we’ll feature a tip of the hat to some of
our best readers and writers and tell you about some very interesting
news before it even happens.
in 21st-century America,
than it sounds
The fallout has been
tremendous. The leading Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten this
month printed 12 cartoons of the prophet Mohammed to expose and challenge
the country’s existing climate of fear of criticizing Islam.
Confirming the newspaper’s nightmares, the response
has been a deluge of Islamic rage, death threats, and violence that have
been sweeping the world.
The issue at stake is the right to speak one’s mind.
Many European newspapers reprinted the cartoons as a clear
show of support for the Danish paper and a symbolic affirmation of the
right to free speech.
This battle for Western freedom is being fought overseas.
And it seems as though that is where it will stay for now.
In the United States, where the freedom of speech premise
was founded and remains the strongest, major news organizations didn’t
reprint the cartoon even while reporting on the violent protests that
were a reaction to them. And whether it was fear of Muslim anger and retaliation
or a respect for the Muslim religion, it is always a wise decision when
a choice is made not to intentionally inflame and anger.
But should there be a special status for any idea or ideology?
Is it right to declare Judaism or Christianity or Marxism or Islam off-limits?
The world has obviously become a much smaller place when
one can’t fall back solely on the freedom of speech argument. As
in a small town, freedom of speech, although legal and protected by the
courts, is not always the only consideration.
At The Kaweah Commonwealth, we have struggled with
this issue often, most directly when dealing with crimes that involve
a local resident. We have attempted to set policy, but it has involved
a lot of trial and error as it is never a black-and-white scenario.
Our policy is basically this: Although we can legally publish
the names of anyone 18 or older, we don’t want to embarrass community
members for an error in judgment. However, if we feel the person is or
will continue to be a danger to society (watch out, impaired drivers)
— namely you, me, or our loved ones — or is in a position
of power or influence, then we will name names.
To fully disclose how we do business in a small town while
enjoying the freedoms provided us under the Constitution, we have often
asked ourselves the following question when wrestling whether or not to
publish names: “If (the victim or perpetrator) were one of our children,
would we publish their names?”
So after 11 years of publishing the Three Rivers newspaper,
readers can know that if we do unto them, we will also do unto ourselves.
Here’s another take on freedom of speech. A few years
back, a person submitted a letter that took to task several Three Rivers
We informed the letter-writer that The Kaweah Commonwealth
has a strict policy of not publishing complaints against local businesses.
This already-incensed person flew off the handle, screaming that we were
inhibiting their right to freedom of speech.
We’ve done a lot of research on this little 45-word
amendment and know that we aren’t responsible for ensuring that
this person has freedom of speech. They have lots of options, whether
it’s posting a flyer or even starting their own newspaper.
In fact, we told the poison-penned author, we couldn’t
even begin to stop his freedom of speech. But we do have a right and responsibility
to determine what information appears in our paper.
Now, in ultimate defense of the freedom of speech, it is
such a privilege to live in a country that honors this right all the way
to the highest court.
Let’s take a tour of two countries:
While walking down the street of a major city in Country
Number One, it is immediately apparent that everyone is dressed the same.
Along the street, there is only one newspaper available and no other reading
People are all of the same skin color and are methodically
going about their business. At a local government building, there is no
access and all is quiet with the doors locked.
To the quick observer, everything seems peaceful, organized,
and completely in order.
While exploring Country Number Two, we notice numerous houses
of worship with people entering and exiting freely. Walking down the street
there are a few groups chanting and holding up signs either protesting
or promoting various issues.
There are several newspaper dispensers at every street corner,
and it is obvious the people have control of these publications and use
them to learn of current events as well as to exchange ideas.
At the civic center, there are several courtrooms in session,
each hearing out a defendant, with the help of counsel and in front of
a jury of their peers.
As we stand on the courthouse steps, we examine the people
walking to and fro. They are all dressed very differently, yet they all
seem to respect each other.
Country Number Two is where most would choose to live. It’s
a place where democracy is a fact of life and diversity is celebrated.
It’s where learning is exciting and engagement is promoted.
It’s where potential is not inhibited, curiosity is not destroyed,
enthusiasm is not impaired, intellect is not stagnated, spirit not diminished,
censorship is not tolerated, and questions are not discouraged.
In a free society, anyone angered by someone else’s
ideas has a simple and powerful recourse: don’t buy the books, watch
the movies, or read the newspapers. If one judges the ideas dangerous,
argue against them. The purveyor of evil ideas is no threat to those who
remain free to counter them with rational ones.
And that, folks, is freedom of speech.
that's an embellishment
I’m going to go to
a horrible place in a horrible neighborhood run by horrible people providing
product for the worst Society has to offer. –James Frey
By Sarah Elliott
A few months ago, Oprah sat on stage in her overstuffed chair
and recommended that her viewers read A Million Little Pieces, as did
a half-dozen or more of her staff members.
The only Oprah Book Club selection I had read before was
Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, and that was decades before she ever
Her latest selection intrigued me, however, and I bought
Like Oprah, I, too, found the book hard to put down. It is
an amazing tale of a lifestyle from which I am far removed but about which
I appreciate being informed.
Through some overwhelmingly brutal scenes and graphic and
explicitly-detailed experiences, James Frey relates his recovery memoir.
As a writer who works hard to follow the standard rules of grammar and
punctuation, I was mesmerized by Frey’s style.
There isn’t a quotation mark to be found throughout
the book, but it is always obvious who is participating in the dialog.
Random nouns are capitalized and sentences are often disjointed or incomplete.
The style is artistic, and it fascinated me. Obviously, the
author has great talent as a storyteller.
Then the firestorm was unleashed that Frey had “embellished”
some of the incidents in his “memoir.” Last week on live TV,
after first publicly supporting Frey, Oprah persuaded him to admit that
he just plain lied about some of his past experiences.
So here are my thoughts:
I liked the story before, so I like the story now. That hasn’t
The main premise of the book is addiction and recovery. And
reading about it definitely broadened my perspective.
For instance, think about the New Orleans residents gathered
in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina. Watching the news, what viewers
saw were thousands of people who had no place else to go being housed
under one roof.
Dig a little deeper and one realizes that these people included
hardworking individuals and families and also drug addicts, drug dealers,
criminals, gang members, and alcoholics. All were enclosed together during
the storm with no way out.
This obviously was a volatile, desperate, and dangerous time.
James Frey’s story also taught me that some are genetically predisposed
to addiction. That is powerful knowledge to have, whether raising children
or dealing with other family members and friends who may someday need
advice or assistance.
The book also made me take a hard look at the county in which
we reside. There are so many who live below the poverty line, and methamphetamine
— also known as “poor man’s cocaine” — is
easily manufactured here in large quantities. Desperate times call for
desperate measures, and while meth users must support their habit, concurrently,
they cannot hold a job and, as their addiction progresses, become more
As a result, there will be an ever-increasing crime rate
and more innocent victims of violent crime.
This book will go a long way in changing a publishing industry
that is lagging behind the fast-moving technological advances, most notably,
As usual, it all comes down to money. By not fact-checking
a memoir, the publisher saved money, made more money, and took giant steps
backward by revealing a weak spot in the industry.
And Oprah’s raking of Frey over the coals on national
television was a matter of big business as well. She has to keep her credibility
intact or risk losing millions of dollars and fans.
As a mother, I empathize most with James Frey’s parents.
They had to live through the pain caused by their son’s drug addiction
and alcoholism for more than a decade.
They must have been proud of their son for the first time
in his adult life when he became a bestselling author. Then, once again,
the lies of an addict became their pain as the publicity turned negative.
So the most basic lesson in this book is one we all were
taught by the time we were four years old: TELL THE TRUTH.