News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

  May 30, 2003

REUNION SEASON… Families are gathering together this spring in a tradition that brings generations together for a day, a weekend, or more.

Andy and Mary Bronzan, who, until recently, resided in Three Rivers, hosted the Bronzan Family Reunion during Memorial Day weekend.

More than 50 family members met Saturday afternoon at son David and wife Donna Bronzan’s home in Visalia.

The group went out to dinner Saturday evening, then the family reconvened Sunday at Plaza Park in Visalia for games and a barbecue.

The Bronzan family has been holding annual reunions for over 60 years.


RIBBONS ON HIGHWAY… They’ve tied a yellow ribbon ‘round the old oak tree, as well as red, white, and blue ones, and on dozens of businesses along Sierra Drive throughout Three Rivers.

The Three Rivers Woman’s Club provided the ribbons and it’s the community’s not-so-subtle way of saying WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS and welcome home!


  May 23, 2003

THREE RIVERS MEETING PLACE… For 25 years, the Conley family has met at the Lazy J Ranch Motel in Three Rivers for their annual family reunion. This year, the annual gathering was held Saturday, May 17.

The Oscar Conley family consisted of 15 children. The family came to Porterville from Oklahoma in the 1940s. The majority of the Conley kids graduated from Porterville High School.

Today, there are 48 grandchildren and fourth-generation children. The reunion was attended by more than 120 Conleys.


AWARD-WINNING SKIING… It’s right here in our backyard: The number two cross-country ski resort in the nation!

Montecito-Sequoia Lodge was recently bestowed with this honor as a result of a poll conducted by Fischer Cross Country Skis and SportHill Performance Clothing.

Second only to Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minn., Montecito-Sequoia Lodge, located between Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks in Giant Sequoia National Monument, took top honors as the “best in the west.”

The 2002/03 Best XC Ski Resort Poll is dedicated to Nordic ski resorts across North America. Cross-country skiers rated their favorite resorts in seven different categories, including scenery, trail quality and grooming, the lodge facility, food service, staff friendliness and service, and how the resort caters to families.

In addition to being rated number two in the Best XC Ski Resort category, Montecito-Sequoia also placed in several other categories (second mostly to Maplelag): Staff Service, second place; Family, second place; Food and Beverage, second place; Scenery, third place behind Devil’s Thumb Ranch (Tabernash, Colo.) and Lone Mountain Ranch (Big Sky, Mont.).

“We are proud to have been included in this recent poll, sponsored by some of the cross-country ski industry leaders,” said David Norbut, Montecito-Sequoia Lodge manager. “We are particularly proud that Montecito-Sequoia Nordic Ski Resort scored high in Staff Service, Family, Food and Beverage and, as no surprise, Scenery.”


IT’S HIKING SEASON… Thanks to Harry Kulick, who brought by the April 2003 issue of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) newspaper. It contains a story originally written in 1936 about a backcountry trip by two CCCs from “Camp Springville.”

These two walked night and day “144 miles from Camp Springville” to the summit of Mount Whitney in three days and nine hours. The story boasts that the hikers broke “the former world’s record by more than a whole day,” but it is unclear exactly what the record entails.

“We had cut down on our rations so that our packs weighed about 45 pounds apiece. We had two pounds of raisins, one loaf of bread, one pound of ham, a jar of jam, and eight candy bars…”

The pair, one was 22 years old, climbed from the west side of Whitney to just 400 yards from the top in darkness. They scrambled over shale, along near-vertical slopes, across ledges, and large snowbanks.

Finally, a large snowfield caused them to roll out their sleeping backs and do the last quarter mile to the summit at 5 a.m. the next morning.



  May 16, 2003
On Saturday, May 3, Three Rivers residents Bettie Crowley and Gene Powert were married at St. Clair's Catholic Mission, followed by a reception at Gateway Restaurant. After a honeymoon in Maui, Enlargethe couple will make their home together in Three Rivers.
Crowley ~ Powert Wedding


ROW THE BOAT… During the weekend of May 2 through 4, the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Regatta was held in Sacramento. Three Rivers was well-represented at the event.

The following was submitted by Rusty Crain of Three Rivers, who was in attendance during the competition, which featured 20 colleges and universities:

Cyrus Brown, a Three Rivers kid who is currently a senior at University of Puget Sound, rowed in both the men’s varsity four Grand Final, where his crew placed fourth, and in the men’s varsity eight Petite Final, where they placed second. Cyrus, the son of Sue Brown of Three Rivers, will be graduating with a degree in physics.

Sara Crain, a sophomore at Cal State Sacramento, was brought up to the women’s varsity eight, which placed fourth in the Grand Final. It is quite rare for a first-year or novice rower to row on the varsity boat, Rusty said.

Sara is a Three Rivers School alum and the daughter of Rick and Dava Crain, formerly of Three Rivers.

Leeanne Crain, Rusty’s daughter who was also raised in Three Rivers, is in her 10th year as coach at the University of San Diego, which placed third in the women’s eight Grand Final. On the previous Friday, at the West Coast Conference finals for the women, the University of San Diego varsity eight placed second in the conference.

For the second time, Leeanne was selected as Rowing Coach of the Year in the West Coast Conference. Last year, she was named Coach of the Year for the WIRA and is currently in her second year as the West Coast representative to the NCAA rowing committee.


NAMING NAMES… A vintage newspaper recently made its way to the office of The Kaweah Commonwealth. Paula Nunnelee dropped off the “Hornet’s Nest,” a six-page newspaper published by the Three Rivers School eighth-graders in 1977.

With the motto “It’s the buzz of the day,” the newspaper contains news about the school by and about many familiar names. On the front page, under a photo of the eighth-grade class, also known as “The Staff,” there is a story by “Official Eighth Grade Reporter” Tracy Owen (daughter of Kent and Sandy).

Tracy lists the last wills and testaments of the outgoing eighth-grade class, including Gene Castro, “who keeps the beat in the class… leaving his drumsticks to Becky Gomes.” Some things never change.

Steven Harris “needs to leave his neatness and impeccable taste with Shannon Lovering [Marty and Nancy] and Randy Fiscus [Jack and Judy].” Terry Gannaway was the recipient of Dennis Daughtery’s “constant sunburnt shoulders.”

Elsewhere in the paper, there was news about:

The fifth-grade class’s play, “Sourwood Mountain,” starring Todd Griffith, David Mills [George and Sue], Shawn Lovering, Leeanne Crain, Cindy Williams [Paula Nunnelee], and more.

Shannon Campe wrote “What’s Happening in Third Grade.”

An article detailed the results of the annual Sequoia Union School track meet. Also in the “some things never change” category, Sequoia Union was the winner, but “Patt Barr, eighth grade teacher, says that Three Rivers has the best athletes of all the schools we compete with.”

On the seventh-grade fundraising front, Holly Crain [Peltzer] and Theresa Williams [daughter of Paula Nunnelee] wrote about their upcoming events, stating “we have to raise $3,700 for our eighth grade trip to San Francisco next year.” (These days, it’s $10,000 or bust!)


  May 9, 2003

RUBE GOLDBERG… The annual Rube Goldberg project was held Wednesday for Three Rivers School sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. The goal of this contest is to complete a simple task (this year’s challenge was to remove cotton from a container) using a series of basic, non-motorized mechanics.

The students, who work in teams of two and create their projects on their own time, showed up that morning with their contraptions, using levers, wheels and axles, gears and belts, cams and cranks, pulleys, screws and bolts, springs, inclined planes, dominoes, mousetraps, marbles, and more. Even a vintage doorknob, dollar bill, and a modified golf club were spied.

The students start their device, but then must let it complete the task without assistance. A minimum of five action transfers are required with the students being awarded points for successful completion of the task and for action transfers over and above the required five.

This year’s winners are: First Place— (Tie) Sharna Yee and Vrinda Avila; Chelsea Groeber and Abbie Kaage, eighth graders. Second Place— Aaron Lineback and Morgan Harrison, seventh grade. Third Place— Kylie Castro and Abby Bloetscher, seventh grade.


In honor of the Day of the Teacher, coming up on Wednesday, May 14:  

The 21st Century Teacher

Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want me to go into that room with all of those kids and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning. Not only that, I’m supposed to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, behaviorally modify disruptive behavior, and observe them for signs of abuse and T-shirt messages.


I am to fight the war on drugs and sexually-transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns, and raise their self-esteem. I’m to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship, and fair play.


I am to check their heads periodically for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial behavior, offer advice, encourage respect for the cultural diversity of others and, oh yeah, always make sure that I split my attention equally between boys and girls.


I am required to be working on my own time, summer and evenings, at my own expense toward advanced certification and a master’s degree, and after school, I am to attend committee meetings and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training to maintain my employment status.


I am to be a paragon of virtue, larger than life, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority. I am to pledge allegiance to supporting family values and a return to the basics. I am to incorporate technology into the learning and monitor all websites while providing a personal relationship with each student. I am to decide who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit crimes in school or who is possibly being abused, and I can be sent to jail for not mentioning these suspicions.


I am to make sure that all students pass the state and federally-mandated testing, whether or not they attend school on a regular basis or complete any of the work assigned. Plus, I am expected to make sure that all of the students with handicaps are guaranteed a free and equal education, regardless of their mental or physical handicap. I am to communicate frequently with each student’s parent by letter, phone, newsletter, and a grade card.


I am to do all of this with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books, a bulletin board, and a 45-minute, more or less, prep time and a big smile.

Is that all? And you expect me to do all of this and NOT PRAY?


by Elizabeth LaMar (Three Rivers)
and Sherylanne Waterman
  May 2, 2003

NATIONAL POLICE WEEK… This annual event honors police officers killed in the line of duty. This year, it will be held in Washington, D.C., beginning May 11. The National Park Service will be honoring the lives of four rangers and officers whose names will be inscribed on the memorial, including one from Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks.

Randy Morgenson, a longtime backcountry ranger, disappeared under mysterious circumstances in July 1996 while out on patrol. Although searchers looked for him throughout the rest of the summer, he was not located.

His body was discovered in a creek five years later by backpackers. He had most likely fallen while crossing during high water and ultimately drowned.

A candlelight vigil will be held on the evening of May 13. A ceremony at the Capitol will be held May 15, which has been designated as National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.

Grace Ogawa
EnlargeGRACE OGAWA (right), 15, of Three Rivers celebrates her win at the Sea Otter Classic mountain bike race.

SHE LIKES TO BIKE… More than likely you’ve seen her pedaling around town and, perhaps, she’s even passed you, even though she’s on her bike and you’re driving a vehicle. And this local training ground is paying off now for Grace Ogawa, 15.

Grace has been participating in mountain biking competitions this year and her fellow bikers are being left in the dust.

At the Sea Otter Classic amateur cross-country mountain bike race, held April 9 to 13 in Monterey, Grace and her parents, Marian Goldeen and Art Ogawa of Three Rivers, all competed in the 13th annual event.

Marian finished in seventh place in her category of Beginner Women 40-44 with a time of 1:51:50. Art placed fifth in Beginner Men 55-59 with a time of 1:50:35.

And Marian tells it best when describing Grace’s results:

“Grace smoked her field, finishing 10 minutes ahead of the next competitor in all three of the Jr. Olympic divisions (14 and under, 16 and under, and 18 and under).”

SUNSET ON WOODLAKE… I haven’t yet seen it, but no telling when I’ll have time to thumb through a magazine again, so take a look at the May issue of Sunset magazine because I have heard that the Woodlake community garden is featured.

SELECTED ARTISTS… The Friends of the Tule River Gallery in Springville opened an invitational exhibition last week that features a couple of Three Rivers artists. The “Artists Select Artists” show is presenting a new work by gallery artists and introducing the work of five new artists chosen by them.

Sue Winters-Brown of Three Rivers was selected to display her gourd art.

Mona Fox Selph of Three Rivers was invited to exhibit her abstract landscapes, created using both watercolor and acrylic paints.

The Friends of the Tule River Gallery is located at 35625 Hwy. 190. For more information and Gallery hours, call 539-8401.

  April 25, 2003
Celebrating Ropings past and present

May 22, 1865— So we selected our best horses. I rode a large black four-year-old mare which we had purchased just before we started. I selected her on account of her size and beauty rather than any of her known qualifications. With one or possibly two exceptions, we all rode bare-back, as saddles were considered too heavy to carry along.

—”A Trip Across the Plains in 1865,” Hudson D. Barton (1844-1929)

If you have noticed lately that Stetsons, Wranglers, and Tony Lamas seem to suddenly be everywhere, and on everyone, there is a reason. The Roping is back in town.

Just taking a drive through Three Rivers is a living history lesson, and the annual Lions Club Team Roping is a celebration of that legacy.

From three days of roping to the branding and barbecue, this is a time each year for all of us to tip our hats to the pioneers who settled this land, driven by dreams and leaving behind lives far more common and safe in a quest for lives far more promising, challenging, exciting, and perilous.

We celebrate the ranchers who brought their cattle and horses to this land of plenty. We retell tales of desperadoes and lawmen who hid out in these hills.

We admire the grit shown by those whose pioneering spirits triumphed over the harsh realities of life, whether toiling on a 19th-century ranch, in a mining or logging camp, or living in a downed sequoia tree. We are humbled by what it took for them to plant the roots here upon which all of us now thrive.

This year’s Roping opens the chutes at 7 a.m. today. Descendants of the hardy souls who settled in the Tulare County foothills and the Central Valley below will be heading, heeling, branding, and racing their way into their own pages of history as part of one of California’s last vestiges of the Old West and a celebration of the Three Rivers ranching heritage.

The Roping tradition will continue Saturday and Sunday, a remembrance that cowboy skills were once a necessary way of life, not just play, not so very long ago. This year’s leather-tough cowboys, most of whom compete for enjoyment and will be back at their day jobs come Monday, will ensure the crowds a fair share of thrills before riding off into the sunset.

Daily barbecues, breakfast each morning, and Cowboy Church on Sunday will round out the Three Rivers Lions Club’s old-fashioned hospitality.

So dust off the hat and boots, load the kids in the pickup, and mosey on out to Lions Arena this weekend for a glimpse of the way it was (don’t forget sunscreen and the cell phone). The Three Rivers Roping will bring a taste of the good old days to the 21st century.


  April 11, 2003

HANGIN’ LOOSE WITH HIGH SIERRA… Since it’s Jazzaffair weekend, it’s time to tell a little story about High Sierra Jazz Band. These boys and their lucky families not only enjoy the fruits of their music here in beautiful Three Rivers, but they have spread their love of jazz and the good name of our town during their travels throughout the world.

Could some of the band members ever imagined it would have come to this when they came together through their love of music nearly 30 years ago?

Earl McKee. He not only lives in the same small town where he was born, but the SAME HOUSE where he was born. There may have been a time when he thought he might never leave the county unless on horseback while exploring the High Sierra.

Charlie Castro. A Native American born in Yosemite Valley. No roots go deeper. Plus, he raised five kids, which also can tend to convince you to stay close to home.

The Huddleston brothers. They made beautiful music together… each weekend at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor. Sorry, Shakey’s, but we’ve got ‘em now!

These four members of present-day High Sierra were also there during the humble beginnings. These days, they are on the road monthly, traveling to festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad.

They are also the headliner entertainment on many excursions organized by Alida Meijers and her Jazzdagen Tours. And she invited us to come along on one of the band’s most recent journeys.

We spent a week with High Sierra and the Jazzdagen Tours group aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the M/S Norwegian Star, from Dec. 29, 2002, through Jan. 5, 2003.

We left port in Honolulu and visited four Hawaiian islands as well as Fanning Island, a primitive tropical locale in the Republic of Kiribati, about 1,100 miles south of Hawaii. This was an amazing adventure for our entire family.

A highlight was the New Year’s Eve celebration on the pool decks of the ship. Live entertainment, ice carvings, four Jacuzzis full of champagne, and thousands of people.

But what makes the trip memorable was the entertainment provided by High Sierra and the hospitality of Jazzdagen Tours. High Sierra played nightly, which means while we were vacationing during the day, they were rehearsing and preparing for their performances.

Jazzdagen Tours greeted us with a bottle of champagne in our stateroom, as well as provided hospitality stations to help orient their guests to the schedule of the ship, which actually is a floating city, and that allowed fellow tour participants to get to know each other better.

Jazzdagen also provided information as needed and offered convenient, Jazzdagen-only shore excursions.

All in all, it was the most luxurious vacation we have ever had as we tend to head to the High Sierra and sleep on the ground rather than the high seas and the decadent pampering of a cruise line. And due to the attention to detail provided by Jazzdagen Tours and the nightly entertainment by High Sierra, our cruise was even better than that experienced by the other 1,800 passengers onboard.

For information about Jazzdagen Tours, see Alida at Jazzaffair this weekend (she tends to hang out with husband Pieter, who is High Sierra’s fearless leader). To follow High Sierra over hill and dale, see their upcoming 2003 tour schedule in the Jazzaffair program in this issue (hint: High Sierra gets exotic with Jazzdagen in August, this time heading to China). Aloha!



  April 4, 2003

Child’s play
: Last week, new Three Rivers moms took time out from bonding, burping, and cuddling during a weekly gathering to show off their newest additions for the camera.
From left to right, standing: Becky Bischoff with Brodaeia (1 month), Liz van Mantgem with Owen (4 months), Ruk Martin with Olivia (4 months), Danika Schultz with Jakob (3 months), Katrina Young with Zachary (2 months), and (front row, l-r) Jennifer Dixon with Colin (4 months) and Stacy Grinsfelder with Spencer (4 months).
According to Stacy, who submitted this photo, “There are even three more new babies in town,” who weren’t in attendance at this most recent meeting.


FUTURE FEMALE FARMER… The Future Farmers of America is one of the premier leadership organizations in the country today. As such, to be involved in such a group is a privilege and an unforgettable experience.

Anna Birch of Three Rivers, a junior at Exeter High School, is not only a member of FFA, but is an officer in two capacities.

She is currently the president of the Sequoia Section, which includes most of the communities of Tulare County, including, but not limited to, Exeter, Woodlake, Visalia, and Porterville. Anna also holds the office of vice president for the San Joaquin Region, which encompasses FFA organizations from Madera to Bakersfield.

This is quite a feat and responsibility, especially in light of the fact that, until 1969, FFA didn't even allow females to become a member.

Future Farmers of America began evolving in 1917, when a law was enacted that established vocational agriculture courses in schools.

In 1928, 33 students established the Future Farmers of America organization to further provide leadership training to high school students of vocational agriculture. Dues were 10 cents annually.

The following year, the FFA adopted its official colors of blue and gold, which are still used today.

In 1930, to ensure there would be no confusion as to the rules, the FFA's all-male delegation amended its constitution restricting membership to boys only.

In 1933, FFA members attended the annual national convention wearing blue corduroy jackets with the FFA emblem on the back. It was then voted to adopt the jacket as the organization's official dress and, currently, more than 50,000 are manufactured each year as members still wear the nationally-recognized jackets.

Finally, in 1969, FFA emerged from the Dark Ages and voted to allow females national membership. Today, 35 percent of FFA membership is female and 47 percent of state leadership positions are held by women.

Anna accepts these FFA leadership positions during a critical time in the organization's long history. Budget cuts earlier this year are threatening to close the doors of FFAs statewide.

And farmers have to embrace technology to succeed. Computers in the office, satellites to forecast weather, websites for marketing, global positioning systems to analyze the soil and determine yield, and farm machines that determine when to plant and which fertilizer to apply.

The pioneering farmers-to-be who started FFA would be shocked at the technology and all the girls who are leading a new generation of future farmers into the field as well as support careers.

Anna is following in her parents' footsteps. James and Bettina Birch own Flora Bella Farm in Three Rivers, which grows organic produce, and they couldn't be more proud of their daughter, whether she becomes a farmer… or president.

  March 28, 2003

AWARD WINNERS… Two additional students have been added to the Principal's Award list by Three Rivers School, a part of the academic and citizenship awards published last week. Shea Lockhart and Chyna Smith, sixth-graders, also earned this award by achieving a 3.0 to 3.99 grade-point average in the second trimester of the school year.

MOVING ON… The public information officer at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has headed north for her new job assignment and promotion. Kris Fister, who has been at Sequoia-Kings Canyon since June 1998, left last week to become the PIO in Denali National Park.

"I will be sad to leave these parks, but I have missed Alaska and am excited about the different opportunities this new position will present," said Kris.

She will return to California on a regular basis, however, since she and her husband own a home outside Yosemite.

"He will keep that as his main address," Kris explained." He hated winters in Alaska."


SPEAKING OUT… On Thursday, March 6, the Three Rivers Lions Club hosted the annual zone level of the annual Student Speakers Contest, hosting one high school student each from Three Rivers, Woodlake, and Exeter who had previously won at their respective club levels.

The subject assigned to the students this year is "Terrorism and World Security." The speech is required to be more than five, but less than 10 minutes.

The winner at this year's zone competition is Alex Fisher, a senior at Woodlake High School. She received a cash award and will advance to compete at the region level.

If Alex wins at region, she advances to district; 16 district winners continue to compete in area. Alex, or some other talented student, could ultimately win $20,500 if they are the overall winner.


  March 21, 2003

Choices… As the nation was celebrating the return of 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart to her family after being abducted nine months before, this rare incidence of good news was overshadowed in Tulare County, especially for those with children in county public schools, when they received the devastating news that Casey Goodwin, 20, was killed Wednesday, March 12, in a head-on crash on Highway 41 near Kettleman City.

Casey, who was a liberal arts major at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, was returning home to Exeter to celebrate her mother's birthday.

Casey's untimely and unnecessary death is one of life's cruelest ironies. The Goodwin family, which includes Casey's parents Reed and Lynne, and siblings Christopher, 18, Kyle, 15, and Kellie, 13, are all actively involved in the California Friday Night Live Program.

Friday Night Live is a program dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by teen motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.

The sickening irony? Against all odds, the driver who crossed the center line and killed Casey was 18-year-old Fernando Ochoa of Stratford, who was arrested at the scene and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Casey's mom, Lynne, is the Friday Night Live School Community Liaison for the Tulare County Office of Education that, in 1988, first developed a middle/junior high school component of the organization that has since been expanded to all 58 counties statewide.

In parallel, Casey was on the board of directors of Teenwork, which is teens who work with their peers to educate them about the positive alternatives to alcohol and drugs and provides governance to the California Friday Night Live Partnership.

There isn't a middle-school or junior-high student in Tulare County who hasn't met Lynne and heard her message. The Goodwin family extends far beyond the traditional boundaries.

Here's our challenge. As we try to comprehend this tragedy and, in turn, explain it to our children, it is necessary to ensure that Casey's death not be in vain.

Therefore, as adults, we must always make the right choice and show our children by example that we don't drink and drive… ever. We must also discuss the dangers of alcohol and drugs with our children… often.

They need to understand that there are many victims who are affected if the wrong choice is made, including, but not limited to, themselves. If we save just one life, we have continued Casey's cause.

To further advance the mission of Friday Night Live and the Goodwins, we must reach all of California's diverse population. Perhaps the public schools have heard the mainstream message about not drinking and driving from Lynne and Friday Night Live, but have the migrant workers and their families been reached?

This is a facet of the community that prefers to avoid interaction with government agencies and their program in order to avoid attention and detection. This creates a void when it comes to dealing with our most ardent social issues and it also leaves this segment of the population minimal healthy recreational pursuits when not at work, which increases the odds of making the wrong choice.

And as we just tragically learned, it only takes one wrong choice to devastate a family, a community, and an entire county.

   March 7, 2003

Big Oops… Here's the explanation: "The shoemaker's children go barefoot."

Upon reading the March issue of the Three Rivers Lions Club newsletter last Friday morning, I immediately noticed two things.

One was that they announced the winner of their Student Speaker Contest, and it wasn't the person I proclaimed as winner in my column, which was hitting doorsteps as I read.

The other item of note in the newsletter was the Lions' assignment of coordinators for the upcoming Jazzaffair. At the top of the lengthy list was president "Brunson" and newspaper/PR "Brunson."

This is the same Brunson that works for us at the newspaper. So you'd think between the two of us, we could get the big news from the Lions Club correct, but it wasn't meant to be.

Contrary to what I reported last week, Aaron Dunn was the winner of the Three Rivers Lions Club's annual student speaker competition. Ian McDaniel was runner-up.

Aaron competed last night against Alex Fisher, a senior at Woodlake High who beat out five other contestants at the Woodlake Lions event, and the Exeter club's contest winner. This region-level event was hosted by the Three Rivers Lions.

Although I wouldn't bet the farm on it, the winner will be announced here next week. I've got one out of three chances to get it right.


EIGHT IS ENOUGH… An anniversary came and went without fanfare last Saturday, March 1.

It consisted of a quiet discussion over breakfast where we recalled that fateful first issue and the work that preceded it, a brief high-five, then wasn't mentioned again as we went on about our day. That day marked the eighth anniversary of publication of The (new) Kaweah Commonwealth.

 We now embark on our ninth year with more than 400 issues under our belts. The benchmark of 500 will be reached after about a decade of publishing.

A fan letter we received this week from a Massachussetts reader is an example of what keeps us motivated (besides a house payment and putting two kids through college):

"I have probably told you how I enjoy reading your newspaper. I am sure your neighbors appreciate it, too.

"I hope you have time to relax and enjoy life. Of course, I realize that publishing The Kaweah Commonwealth must give you both much pleasure.

"Yes, I realize that it is a lot of work, but I know it gives your lives a useful purpose."


FUNGUS AMONGUS… Watch the brand name when buying mushrooms, if you can even afford this high-priced delicacy these days. Workers at Pictsweet Mushrooms in Ventura have been trying for years to win fair pay, benefits and, most of all, safe working conditions.

Conditions at Pictsweet are cruel and dangerous, they say. Mushroom workers labor in dark and damp rooms with slippery floors, and only the lights on their helmets guide them.

Workers say that over time their vision deteriorates because they lack proper lighting. Because of these conditions, workers are asking customers to insist on fair working conditions by not buying Pictsweet mushrooms until the company signs a union contract and workers win safe and healthy job conditions and better pay.

An accomplice in this scenario is Pizza Hut, so think twice about ordering mushrooms on your pizza at this national chain. They are one of Pictsweet's largest customers and have refused to keep those mushrooms off their pizzas.


DRAMA SEASON… On Saturday, Feb. 22, at the annual High School One-Act Festival, held at College of the Sequoias, Woodlake High School's Drama Club received some impressive awards.

The WHS actors performed Bang Bang You're Dead, a vivid, startling play, written by William Mastrosimone, that addresses school violence. They received the Best One Act Production award, and Carl Frame received a meritorious acting award.

The play, which can be downloaded for free from, requires 11 or more actors, but little in the way of sets and props. Running time is about 40 minutes.

The play has been performed at high schools throughout the country and is billed as a powerful tool for school-violence prevention and intervention. It focuses largely on the lasting consequences of an impulsive act, for the shooter and the victims.

It also portrays the rippling consequences for family, friends, schools, and communities. Young actors are encouraged to improvise, lamenting what they would forever lose if such an act of violence occurred.

The show properly indicts the violent television, movies, and video games that desensitize kids and train them to find amusement in killing. It also reminds teens of the potentially deadly effects of teasing, taunting, and ostracizing troubled classmates.

The Drama Club also performed Bang Bang You're Dead at the Lenaea Festival, held annually since 1955 at Sacramento State University to provide a variety of venues and presentational opportunities for high school students and theatre arts teachers. The Drama Club chose train travel as their mode of transportation and spent the weekend of Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in the state's capital, participating in the competition.

They received a rating of Superior for their performance and ranked seventh out of 55 one-act plays.


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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