October 29, 2013

Grant to Find Solution to Water Issues

Sunday, October 20th the Fresno Bee ran the story “Water woes still plague Allensworth;California study may help.” The story is part of their “Living in a Toxic Land” series; an investigation into Third World conditions in San Joaquin Valley communities like Allensworth.

The Allensworth Community Services District has received a $390,000 grant from the Department of Public Health to study solutions to the community’s water issues. The community’s water supply is tainted by arsenic, which is linked to cancer. 

Preliminary study findings suggest replacing the town’s current water tank with a new 500,000 gallon tank. They are also looking into working with the Alpaugh and Angiola Water District to come up with a regional solution. The Allensworth Community Services District’s main goal is building a new water system that is free of arsenic.

October 27, 2013

Getting Ready for the Dance

Aaron Ledesma of Los Robles Elementary receive personalized grooming from Steve Ptomey, from the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park during PUSD’s 16th annual Butterfield Stage History Education Day. 
Recorder Photo by Esther Avila

Aaron takes a seat in the barber chair; he is here to get a shave for tonight’s big dance. The barber is dressed in gray pants and matching vest, a white shirt and black bowtie with a white straw boater hat. He covers Aaron with an apron and fastens it behind his neck.   In the chair next to Aaron, Sarina is getting her hair styled for the big dance.  The barber dips his badger brush in the ceramic shaving mug then begins lathering Aaron’s face.   After dipping the badger brush into the cup a few more times his lower face and neck are covered.   The barber picks up a straight-razor, pulls the skin taut, and skillfully draws it over Aaron’s face. He wipes the shaving cream and hair from the razor before drawing it over Aaron’s face again.  

Aaron Ledesma and Sarina Cabaje are two of the Porterville Unified School District’s 1,629 fourth-graders that participated in the Butterfield Stage History Education Day at Zalud Park in Porterville. The barber is chief interpreter Steve Ptomey and the hairdresser is interpreter Jerelyn Olivera, park rangers at Colonel Allensworth State History Park.   Their “Getting Ready for the Dance” station is one of 60 at the 16th annual education day. Ptomey told Esther Avila, a reporter for the Porterville Recorder that “The boys are getting a taste of a straight-razor cut, and learning about toilet water, how much things cost back then and how it was 100 years ago.” Toilet water is a lightly scented perfume applied to the skin after bathing or shaving.

The goal of the yearly event is to spark student interest in California history; which is part of the fourth grade curriculum. The day is a chance for the students to leave the textbooks in the classroom and get a small taste of life in 19th century California. Activities at other stations included animal branding and sheep shearing demonstrations. Students also had a chance to form a fire bucket brigade, make corn husk dolls, clean clothes on a washboard, and a host of other hands on activities. 

For more information about the 16th Annual Butterfield Stage History Education Day read the Porterville Recorder story “Traveling back in time: Education experiencetransports students to the 1800s” by Esther Avila.