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The Best of Kaweah Country
In the News -
Friday, DECEMBER 3, 2004
500 issues of
Kaweah Commonwealth in print!
alive after 500 drop-deadlines
By Sarah Elliott
Procrastinators need not apply. But anyone with this personality
quirk will see the habit quickly dissipate after time on this job.
All of our news and feature stories are done under deadline
pressure. The most annoying aspect of this is that it isn’t always
possible to hone and polish our writing.
When Ernest Hemingway was asked why he had rewritten the
final chapter of A Farewell to Arms 44 times, he answered, “To get
the words right.” Ah, the luxury of second thought.
Granted, we’re a few fathoms below Hemingway’s
level, but even so, each week, the newspaper is proofread twice, at the
very least. However, a corollary to Murphy’s Law ensures that mistakes
that are not seen during editing immediately become glaring beacons as
soon as 3,000 copies are in print.
In many newspapers, time limitations are invoked as an excuse
for carelessness. Causing the pressure of the job to be much more intense
but ensuring that The Kaweah Commonwealth will always adhere to our standard
of excellence, we have not allowed the looming deadlines to create poor
John and I have adjusted our techniques to these rush hours
without turning slipshod. But errors have slipped through our fine screening
and for this we bear sole responsibility.
We’ve learned that words can be the best of friends
or the worst of enemies. Sticks and stones can break our bones and words
can really cause a lot of sleepless nights.
We never forget that the first duty of language is to communicate.
Some readers have no doubt found certain judgments of ours open to question
— too dogmatic, too lenient, too pompous, too pedantic, too plain,
or altogether wrong.
In addition to unforgiving deadlines, other drains on enlivened
writing are the practical matters of running a small business. The drudgery
of paperwork and red tape are parasites on creativity.
John and I realize that the only way we have reached this
milestone of 500, a feat no other Three Rivers newspaper has accomplished,
is because of teamwork.
As in marriage it is in work. John’s strengths are
my weaknesses and visa-versa, but together this makes us whole.
We fell into our various job descriptions quite naturally
and, together, have been able to create 500 compelling, graphically-pleasing,
The responsibilities permeate our private lives and we wake
up every day thinking about what we’re going to put in the newspaper.
Even on vacations, we find that we keep the cell phone way too close and
it takes a concerted effort to pry it out of hand.
That’s why backpacking has become our diversion of
choice. For one week or so each summer, we grab the kids and escape to
a parallel world that is totally off the clock and without technological
This annual trip allows us to concentrate solely upon our
survival, and our only deadline is to have the tent set up and dinner
prepared by nightfall.
We always can think of a hundred reasons why we shouldn’t
disappear into the backcountry each year. But something that the 500 deadlines
have taught us is that the next week always rolls around.
There may be easier ways to make a living, but then again,
there’s nothing more satisfying than the art of storytelling when
even just one reader is moved by our words.
And that’s the power of writing, which is...
I’d like to finish that thought, but I’ve got
a deadline to meet.
In the line of fire:
Local fire stations remain open…
By John Elliott
On Tuesday, Nov. 30, the County of Tulare accepted a proposal
from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) to
delay a $1.8 million payment to the state until fiscal year 2005-2006.
The additional money, over and above the current $10.7 million the county
is paying, became necessary when CDF employees negotiated a new contract
with a wage increase.
If, under the terms of the CDF contract with Tulare County
to provide fire services, an agreement would not have been reached, Bill
Sanders, chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, said eight
stations, including Lemon Cove (No. 13), would have been closed by Jan.
Sanders said he had hoped the payment could have been waived
but that just wasn’t an option to continue the current levels of
service. He has suggested that the “most fair” way to generate
the additional revenue is to adopt a utility tax for unincorporated areas.
The deferring of the payment gives the county an opportunity
to place some kind of tax measure on the March ballot. Three Rivers, currently
operating under the “Amador Plan,” is already without a paid,
on-duty county firefighter during the fire off-season.
The new Three Rivers Fire Station is being manned by CDF
personnel on the State of California payroll but who are authorized to
assist in all local emergencies.
The so-called Amador Plan, named because it was first used
in that part of the state, is effective as long as CDF personnel are not
summoned to an emergency elsewhere. But, if and when that happens, like
during the late-season fires recently in Southern California, having a
county firefighter at Lemon Cove would be indispensable.
The immediate effect, according to one volunteer “paid-call”
firefighter, who asked not to be identified, is that first response times
that now average 15 minutes would go up to 35 or 45 minutes. Homeowners’
and medical insurance rates may also rise as underwriters realize that
unincorporated areas of Tulare County have less protection.
But Eric Coyne, a public relations staff person for the Board
of Supervisors, said finding a long-term solution is critical because
the population of Tulare County is expected to double in the next ten
years. He said the county was taking a hard look at its fire protection
because the contract with CDF has increased nearly 30 percent in the last
likes the idea of a utility tax because it casts a wider net at a lower
rate than a sales tax,” Coyne said. “The board also likes
the fact that it would only require a simple majority to pass.”
Last month’s election results certified
And here’s how Three Rivers voted
Just when you thought you had heard it all about the November
2 election, earlier this week Tulare County elections officials released
precinct totals for all 286 polling places that included all provisional
and absentee votes. Only one local race — the Woodlake City Council
— went right down to the very last votes counted.
In that race, for the second of two seats, incumbent Jack
Ritchie edged out challenger Toni Ruiz-Lenz by four votes. Lenz had led
by the same four-vote margin as late as the November 19 update.
In keeping with the norm of the last several elections, Three
Rivers voters stepped outside the box and bucked countywide, state, and
national trends. The final figures indicated that of the 1,622 voters
registered to vote in the two Three Rivers precincts, 1,371 or 84.5 percent
actually did so. In Tulare County, the turnout was more than 20 percent
lower than in Three Rivers.
So what attracted all those local voters? If you ask the
Democrats, it was the dissatisfaction with the Bush administration. If
you ask the Republicans, it was that Bush supporters wanted to show the
incumbent that they believed in family values and that the current president
could do the better job in keeping the U.S. safe from terrorists.
So here’s how Three Rivers voted on some of the highlights
on the November 2 ballot:
For president, Three Rivers voted for Bush 52 percent to
45 percent for Kerry; Bush carried Tulare County 66 percent to 33 percent
for Kerry. In contrast, during the 2000 election, Tulare County voted
for Bush 60 percent to 36 percent for Al Gore, who nationwide actually
finished slightly ahead of the eventual winner in the popular vote.
Among the other so-called “lesser party candidates,”
Michael Peroutka, American Independent Party, received 19 votes in Three
Rivers; the top vote-getter of the other party candidates in Tulare County
was David Cobb, Green Party, who received four votes in Three Rivers and
his countywide votes were still less than one percent of the total votes
cast countywide for presidential nominees.
For U.S. Senator, Three Rivers voted for Fresno’s Bill
Jones 51 percent to Barbara Boxer’s 46 percent. In Tulare County,
Jones’s margin of victory was 60 percent to 37 percent for the incumbent
senator, who was easily reelected statewide.
In the race for U.S. Representative in the 21st District
Devin Nunes, the incumbent won in Three Rivers 64 percent to 36 percent
over Fred Davis, the democratic challenger. Countywide, Nunes’s
margin of victory was 74 percent to 26.
Bill Maze, who was reelected to the State Assembly’s
34th District, carried Three Rivers by an identical percentage as Nunes.
Countywide, Maze defeated Maggie Florez, his democratic challenger, 70
to 30 percent.
In the race for county supervisor, District 1, Three Rivers
voted for the eventual winner Allen Ishida, 58 percent to 42 percent for
Bud Pinkham. District-wide, the margin of victory was closer with Ishida
garnering 52 percent to 48 percent for the challenger.
In the Measure Z race, the issue to provide funding for the
Three Rivers Memorial District, absentee votes did not change the outcome.
The final total was 810 “yes” votes (61.46 percent) to 508
“no” (38.54 percent). A two-thirds majority or 66.67 percent
of the total votes cast are needed for passage.
There were no local surprises among the 16 propositions.
The controversial Proposition 71, funding stem cell research, that was
approved statewide was rejected in both Three Rivers (52 percent to 48
percent) and in Tulare County (58 percent to 42 percent).
Now that the November 2 election is finally a wrap, it’s
time to start planning for the next one that could be scheduled as soon
as March 2005. On that ballot, local voters can look forward to another
opportunity to assist the Three Rivers Memorial District, and perhaps
a countywide utility tax for firefighters.
The next regularly scheduled election will be held Tuesday,
Nov. 4, 2005. On that ballot, local seats for both the Community Services
and Memorial districts will be up for election.
The holiday celebrations continue
Over the past two weeks, about a dozen holiday events have
been highlighted here. But before the social calendar is finalized, pencil
in these celebrations in as well:
Three Rivers Historical Society Open House—
On Sunday, Dec. 12, the museum doors will open to Christmas past. Gift
shopping opportunities will abound with books on local history, framed
historical prints, and more. Bullenes will prepare the refreshments, so
stop by and have a cup of cheer with neighbors and friends, as in the
days of old.
TRUS Winter Program— The holidays
are about the kids, so come out on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 16, to
more than a hundred of them sing, perform skits, and play instruments
as they ring in the holidays and celebrate their upcoming two-week break.
Christmas”— The Enchanted Playhouse’s children’s
theatre will present this holiday tale for the next three weekends. For
information, call 739-4600.
Bundle up and head to
Gardening tips for December and the holidays
By Thea Fiskin, Master Gardener
Are you considering a living Christmas tree this year? Here
are some tips to keep the tree healthy.
Water the root ball thoroughly and spray the foliage before
bringing it inside your home. Set the tree in a large waterproof saucer
in a cool location away from heater vents and the fireplace.
Be sure to keep it evenly moist, and don’t let it sit
in water or dry out. Display it inside for no longer than 10 days.
Afterward, ease its transition to the outside by placing
it in your garage or on a porch for a few days. This helps lessen the
shock of the temperature change.
If you plan to use the same tree again next year, then protect
the black nursery pot from the sun. Either sink the pot into the ground
or transplant the tree into a light-colored plastic pot. Each spring,
slide the root ball out of the container to prune any roots going in circles
and if necessary, transplant into a larger pot.
AMARYLLIS is a very popular bulb given during the holiday
They are available in reds, pinks, salmons, and whites; as
doubles, miniatures, or in stripes. Amaryllis get more exciting each year
as new varieties are released.
Grown indoors, they will flower in a couple weeks. After
they bloom, remove faded flowers, but don’t cut the green flower
stalk or leaves.
Also, don’t throw these beauties away, instead set
them out in the garden and they will bloom again next spring. Grow them
in pots or in the ground with the added bonus of many more blooms per
POINSETTIAS are the number one holiday plant. There is widespread
belief that they are poisonous, but they are not.
In fact, they are included on the list of houseplants helpful in removing
pollutants in the air.
To care for these plants, place them in indirect light and
water only when the soil feels dry to the touch. Don’t over water
or let them sit in water.
Poinsettias are cold-sensitive, so be sure to keep them out
Houseplants will need humidity now that home heaters are
on. Spritz them with water or better yet, set them on a humidity tray.
Line a tray under the plant with pebbles and add water to just below the
surface of the rocks. Never let plants sit directly in water. Some houseplants
are particularly cold sensitive, so move them away from doors and cold
drafts. Wipe dust off foliage to allow leaves to breathe easier and absorb
more light. Snip off yellow or dead leaves.
What to plant
For winter color, buy six-packs of calendulas, Iceland poppies,
pansies, primroses, sweet peas, snapdragons, stock, and violas. It's not
too late to plant and they will continue to bloom until the hot weather
returns in April or May.
Since bulb season is nearly over, nurseries should have them
on sale. The selection may be limited, but the prices should be right.
Remember, it’s too late now for hyacinth and tulip
Later this month, bare-root trees and roses will arrive in
nurseries. Shop early for the best selection. If looking for a particular
variety, then call ahead to request it.
Listen for frost warnings and protect sensitive plants. Plants
will survive better if well watered, so don't let them dry out.
Prune deciduous trees after they lose their leaves, except
for spring flowering varieties such as forsythia. Prune these after they
Consult pruning books or Sunset's Western Garden Book if
you are uncertain how to proceed.
Remove winter weeds popping up now. Each weed produces thousands
of seeds so pull them before they flower.
In large flowerbeds or lawns, apply a pre-emergence herbicide
to prevent annual weed germination. Discourage weeds by mulching flowerbeds,
shrubs, and trees with a thick layer of organic (shredded or chipped bark,
etc.) or inorganic (gravel or rocks) mulch.
If using pre-emergence herbicides, spray first then, add
a layer of mulch.
Spray deciduous fruit trees, nut trees, and roses with a
dormant oil spray to kill over-wintering aphids, mites, scale, etc. Handpick
slugs and snails or set out bait.
This time of year, plant growth slows down considerably,
so go enjoy the yuletide season. If you find you need a break from all
the festivities, then maybe a walk outside to pull a weed or two is just
Happy Holidays from all the Master Gardeners!
The University of California Cooperative Extension is at 4437 S. Laspina
St., Suite B, in Tulare. Master gardeners may also be reached by calling
685-3309, ext. 220.
WOODLAKE HIGH SCHOOL
Program places first service dog
Now in its second year, the Assistance Service Dog Education
Center in Woodlake has placed its first canine student into service.
The Assistance Service Dog Educational Center, which is located
at the old St. John’s School south of Woodlake, offers an elective
course to Woodlake High School students. The high school Assistance Dog
Program teaches students to train service dogs in preparation of placing
them with individuals with disabilities.
On Friday, Nov. 19, Ann, a golden retriever, was given to
Ruth Mallory, who lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Springville,
where she provides volunteer assistance to autistic children.
Autism is a severe developmental disorder in which those
afflicted have difficulty communicating with others, are extremely self-absorbed,
and suffer a detachment from reality. Although an autistic child may not
be able to socialize with other people, medical studies have shown that
there are positive effects when interacting with pets.
Maria, a junior at Woodlake High School, trained Ann last
year. Maria was one in the first class of students to participate in the
high school’s Assistance Dog Program.
As a part of this program, students participate in both the
hands-on training and coursework. The training concentrates on teaching
the dogs to be the eyes and ears of a prospective owner and to provide
The coursework emphasizes the partnerships between canines
and physically or socially impaired individuals who need assistance and
teaches about the psychology of how dogs learn and acquire their motor
skills in various developmental stages.
The Assistance Service Dog Educational Center is an all-volunteer
program, organized and managed by Gerald and Donna Whittaker of Woodlake.
To donate money or time, or to receive information about
receiving an assistance dog, call 564-PAWS. The mailing address of the
Assistance Service Dog Educational Center is P.O. Box 367, Woodlake, CA