The attendees of Monday’s (March 7) Town Hall meeting at the Three Rivers Memorial Building listened to remarks from some of the county’s highest ranking officials. The Three Rivers Village Foundation sponsored the monthly meeting also marked the debut of Trent Coleman as moderator, newly appointed foundation board member.
Allen Ishida, Supervisor-District 1— Coleman’s first task was to introduce Allen Ishida, county supervisor now serving in the final year of his third four-year term. Ishida has attended dozens of Three Rivers meetings where he has been able to give local residents access to county officials and department staff that otherwise might not be available.
Ishida shared some water news including the fact that area citrus growers have been told because of more rain this season they might expect to receive 25 percent of their former allotments of surface water from the Friant-Kern Canal. That’s still not close to pre-drought allocations but it’s encouraging after receiving zero water last year.
If there is a March miracle, Ishida said, that allotment could be adjusted upward. In the past 12 years, while he has been in office, he said Tulare County has experienced two flood events (not catastrophic ones) and successive years of drought.
“We could use some flooding this season as long as the damage is minimal,” Ishida said.
Charlie Norman, Fire Chief— Ishida then introduced Charlie Norman, Tulare County’s new fire chief.
“It took us [the board] five minutes to approve Charlie’s appointment,” Ishida said. “We had to call him back in from the parking lot to tell him the news of our decision.”
Chief Norman, who grew up Woodlake and graduated from Woodlake High in 1982, has been at his new job since January.
“We have our ears open now and are more involved with the public,” Chief Norman said. “My office door is open and my phone is always turned on. We are here to serve the community.”
Supervisor Ishida also added that relative to growth of tourist rental properties in Three Rivers, the State of California recently passed a law that all bedrooms must be equipped and inspected for smoke detectors that have a three-year battery life.
“We haven’t heard how this will be done and who will do the inspections,” Ishida concluded.
Mike Boudreaux, Sheriff— Next up was Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux who said he likes to visit the local town meeting in Three Rivers three or four times in a year. He announced that in addition to 200 body cameras for deputies, the department’s patrol vehicles are also equipped with video equipment.
“I fail to see the mistrust of officers in Tulare County and in California,” Sheriff Boudreaux said. “We learned our lesson during the Rodney King incidents.”
Sheriff Boudreaux also announced the department received approval from the Board of Supervisors for the use of a drone, mostly for search-and-rescue and pursuits. He assured the audience that the department “won’t be flying in your backyards looking in the windows.”
Tulare County’s top cop also thanked the Three Rivers community for its outpouring of sympathy in the aftermath of the plane crash that killed two of the department’s personnel last month.
“I’m sure James [Chavez] and Scott [Ballantyne] would want us to lace up our boots and go right back out to do our job,” Sheriff Boudreaux said.
In summary, Sheriff Boudreaux mentioned some accomplishments and looked to the future. He said in the two years since he became sheriff the department has changed 80 different things. There are currently 851 personnel employed in county law enforcement; in the next three years there will be closer to 1,000.
The growth has been spurred by the state program to release nonviolent offenders and return them back to their home counties.
Sheriff Boudreaux said to house 1,800 inmates daily there are two new jails. Of this inmate population, 63 percent are gang members, and this is a problem that’s here to stay.
“There’s already a gang enforcement unit that has been visiting Three Rivers lately,” Boudreaux said.
He said as the summer season heats up on the river, there will be more officers assigned to Three Rivers to work with Mark Frick, Three Rivers resident deputy.
“I want you to be proud of your law enforcement agency — the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department,” Boudreaux said.
Sheriff Boudreaux was also asked to comment on the pending child abuse case (www.kaweahcommonwealth.com/news/3r-man-charged-child-molestation).
“The law requires that you are innocent until you are proven guilty, and we can’t control the bail in the case,” Sheriff Boudreaux said. “My concern is for the victims. The arrest we made was based upon the evidence in the case.”
Boudreau asked Lt. Larry Micari, a professional standards and compliance officer for the Sheriff’s Department, to review what the court has ordered in the case.
“We are taking this case very seriously,” Boudreaux said.
National Parks— Malinee Crapsey, standing in for Dana Dierkes, Sequoia and Kings Canyon public affairs specialist, reviewed upcoming park activities planned for the NPS centennial celebration.
Community Plan— Dean Stryd, Village Foundation board member, also gave a preview of agenda items scheduled for the next two Community Plan meetings. Topics on the agenda for the Monday, March 14 meeting include water quality and noise.
The next Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 4, at 6 p.m. For questions about the meeting or more information on the Village Foundation, call Mignon Gregg, Foundation president, at 561-1808.