The Best of Kaweah Country 2015


Welcome to the BEST of Kaweah Country no. 17. I find it interesting that more Three Rivers residents don’t get involved in the process of completing a poll. This year, it took about 10 minutes to complete the poll online, and that’s if you completed all the categories, which is not mandatory.

Poll participants— Don’t get me wrong. We have our regulars, a growing legion of them, who, year after year, let us know what they think, good or bad.

I like polls and surveys. I often put myself in the place of someone who doesn’t write, design, and package the newspaper each week. Would I complete this poll in my hometown newspaper? You bet.

Three Rivers getaway— From the you-can’t-please-everyone files, we recently received correspondence from a local resident requesting that we don’t put “bad news” on the front page, which in the summertime means fires, river access issues, and break-ins. The reason for this is that this person wants to put the newspaper in her vacation rental while creating an illusion that all is perfect in Three Rivers.

“...It’s just that [the bad news is] always the first thing you see when you pick up the paper. Big Bummer, that I just don’t want my guests to see first thing if I can help it. If I put in the room, that’s literally what they’d see FIRST THING… I survive by my guest cabin now, and it’s a ‘fantasy’ escape kind of a deal for my guests that come in from around the world: when they talk about the wonderful fresh mountain air, I don’t correct them, and to the extent I can, I entertain their every whim of imagining a life in such a perfect place.

I get this. That’s the reason we bought the newspaper 20 years ago. We didn’t feel the previous attempts at newspapering in this town were representing the best that Three Rivers has to offer to visitors, who are this town’s livelihood. Our business model, then and now, includes a balance between telling the news in all its ugliness and providing visitors with the essence of what Kaweah Country has to offer with its scenic values and recreational opportunities.

To read or not to read— This is a newspaper, however. It’s not a visitor magazine that’s all glossy and full of fluff. We have a job to do and a responsibility to fulfill. This is the history of Three Rivers in the making.

Without a formal canvass of all households in Three Rivers, I have no way of knowing what gets read in the print edition. But on the Commonwealth’s website, I can view the number of clicks on each article that’s posted, and it’s obvious that the news that is not welcome in the previously mentioned guest cabin is what explodes online with clicks and comments. At the newspaper, we’ve got a fine line to negotiate to keep everyone happy and, most importantly, reading, especially in this day and age when many opt to get their news elsewhere.

It’s actually quite complicated why the not-so-pleasant articles end up on the front page. There are several reasons. But I’ll save those nuts and bolts for another day… or for my book about small-town publishing that I don’t have time to write. Fun times! 

BEST: Love it or hate it— I do feel this letter-writer will be pleased with this week’s issue because it is all about what’s good in Three Rivers and the surrounding areas. This is something that houseguests and vacationers can enjoy and, hopefully, experience for themselves when they are provided with the inspiration of what to see and do.

On the other hand, because there always is another hand, we get grief for the readers’ poll. I agree that Three Rivers has more potential than what is currently represented in the way of local businesses. After all, we have more than a million people who set foot in this town for one reason or another each year. 

A Facebook post said, in essence, we are rewarding bad behavior. And someone on a poll wrote: “This is such a joke. Three Rivers has lost so many services over the years. It’s the only town going backwards.”

Investing in Three Rivers— I understand the negativity and where it comes from. Especially in the summer, when what few public-use areas there are become overrun with a type of user whose philosophy is to leave the area worse off than how it was when they arrived.

I think Three Rivers would thrive with additional investment: entrepreneurs, more services, a transit center, a public park… a restroom! I have been an advocate of incorporation for a long time, believing that the town would be better if it was us, the residents, that controlled its destiny.

Rewarding good behavior— Just remember, most who are small business owners in this town work harder than they ever realized was possible in order to earn a living and provide a service to locals and visitors. Yes, due to lack of choices, some win the same listing year after year, but others change with the whims (and demographics) of the voters. 

However, for the past 17 years, when any of the business owners are informed by John Elliott that they won a poll category or two and he would like to take a photo, they are invariably happy to receive this news. Working day after day with little or no positive feedback is thankless and grueling and exhausting. I know; I live that scenario.

Life is what you make it, and if you live here, for whatever reason, short term or long term, then make the best of it. And if you don’t like what Three Rivers is today, then do something to change it for the better. Make a difference; create a legacy.

Thank you, Three Rivers businesses, business owners, and wage earners— So here is The Kaweah Commonwealth’s attempt to thank the businesses who came out on top of the votes this year. Many of them are also advertisers in this publication (although that is not a requirement to win a category), which means they are the reason Three Rivers has a newspaper.

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