Spotlighting the best of the Kern River Valley FREE Friday, June 4, 2010 A Locally-Owned Community Partner and Award-Winning Newspaper Trails Day on June 5 Day use fees waived Michael Batelaan/Kern River Courier The U.S. Coast Guard did several helicopter demonstrations over Memorial Day weekend, urging boating safety on Isabella Lake. Summer prime time for scams Kern River Courier Scam artists are victimizing anyone with a telephone and/or an Internet connection. And there are many more of these scams than there used to be. Here is a listing of some of the scams operating now that we at the Courier feel you should be aware of. Foreclosure/loan modification scams Nine men from Southern California were recently implicated in a boiler room scheme that fleeced hundreds of homeowners seeking relief from foreclosure. The boiler room (in which perpetrators sit, giving the same spiel over the phone to one victim after another) was tricked out in high-roller style with a roulette wheel and other casino equipment. More than 1,500 desperate homeowners were promised loan modifications but received no relief. Two of the nine were Gary Arnold Eisenberg, 71, of Westwood, a top telemarketer with the company, and Ira Itskowitz, 58, a sales manager. They have each spent more than five years in federal prison for previous fraud convictions. The four principal owners of the business, Niv Iskin, 30, of Reseda, Reviv Karpman, 38, of Tarzana, Tomer Kogman, 29, of Reseda and Avraham Yechizkia, 34, of Encino; and a sales manager, Barel Iskin, 23, of Woodland Hills, are still being pursued by law enforcement. "This company was just a boiler room, long on promises and upfront fees but short on foreclosure relief," California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said. "Its operators cruelly defrauded citizens trying valiantly to hang on to their homes." The Canoga Park-based loan modification business operated as Mason Capital Group, LLC and Gretchen Fox and Associates. When agents executed a search warrant at the office, they found a Las Vegas casino- See SCAMS, Page 9 It is finally time to tell the true story of the “falling cow” sign. What falling cow sign, you say? Well, that is quite a tale. In the Kern River Canyon, on the transition road between the new and old portions of Highway 178, there is a CalTrans road sign that shows the side of a cliff in silhouette, with rocks tumbling down. This is a sign in universal picture language that means “Watch for falling rocks.” You have probably seen these road signs everywhere you drive. Well, the one in the canyon is a bit different. Tumbling along with the rocks is the silhouette of a cow. The cow just seemed to magically appear on the sign back in the 1990s. Another cow appeared on the “falling rocks” sign that was at the mouth of the canyon. W h e n t h e y appeared, the area was g o i n g through a wet winter. Cattle in the canyon (it’s an open range area) were having a tough time k e e p i n g their grip on the slick mountainsides and were falling onto the road. Since the signs appeared originally, the Internet has exploded into the vast cyberworld it is today. A photo of Lake Isabella’s weekend weather Sat.: Sunny, high 90. Sat. night: Mostly clear, low 65. Sun.: Sunny, high 92. Kern River Courier Sun. night: Partly cloudy, low 65. The local Kern River Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service welcomes everyone to hit the trails this weekend for National Trails Day. In celebration of NTD, District Ranger Rick Larson is waiving all day use fees around the lake for June 5 and 6. Around Isabella Lake, there will be no charge for day use at Auxiliary Dam, Old Isabella Road, South Fork Recreation Area, or Day Use at Camp 9. Overnight fees at these sites will still apply. "I'm happy to waive the usual dayuse fees for this event, but even happier that we offer many miles of maintained hiking trails that are always free for the public to enjoy," said Larson. Since its inception in 1993, the NTD has given people a reason to stretch out their tired muscles, tie up their boots, throw on their packs, and get outdoors. According to the American Hiking Society, "NTD inspires the public and trail enthusiasts nationwide to seek out their favorite trails, to discover, learn about, and celebrate trails while participating in education Mon.: Sunny, high 94. See FEES, Page 16 Kids Fishing Derby on Saturday, June 5 The annual Kids Fishing Derby, headquarters Wofford Heights Park, will take place Saturday, June 5. Participants must be registered before fishing. For details see the Courier Calendar on page 2. ‘Falling cow’ sign started as joke, spread over Internet Kern River Courier Vol. 7 No. 18 the “falling cow sign” at the mouth of the canyon, taken by a tourist, was posted on the Internet and became a sensation. To d a y, there are many uses of the original photo as well as reproductions of it all over the Internet. A l i s o n Sheehey of Weldon took one that is prominently posted on roadtripamerica.com. So how did it get there? The time has come to ‘fess up. It came from the fertile imagination of Courier co- owner Michael Batelaan. Since the statute of limitations has probably run out now on “altering” CalTrans property, he felt he could now tell the story. Batelaan thought the public should be warned about the falling cows, but he figured that a sign saying, “Watch For Falling Cows!” might generate too much hysteria. He went to Eddie Norris’s sign shop and got some scraps of black vinyl sign material. Then he took a photo of the cow featured on the “open range” cattle sign near the “falling rocks” sign, and used it as a pattern so he could cut out a cow’s shape. The first cows he stuck on the sign in the middle of the canyon were too small, but See COW, Page 16 Mon. night: Partly cloudy, low 68. National Weather Service 4 History of the town of Isabella, starting in the 1800s. 7 This guy’s forte is birdhouses, says California Joe. 11 Two challenging crossword puzzles in the Courier instead of just one. 15 Solving heartburn can be easier than you think, in some patients. Kern River Water Data: Wed. 6 a.m. Storage, Isabella Reservoir 255,708 acre-feet. (Low point was 101,857 ac-ft. Dec. 4. Pool capacity is 568,075 ac.-ft. at the spillway. Current limit is 360,000 ac.-ft.) Inflow, North Fork of Kern at Kernville 2745 cfs (5-hr avg.) Outflow, Lower Kern 2370 cfs Borel Canal flow 522 cfs Data from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cfs=cubic feet per second 1 cu.ft. = 7.48 U.S. gallons 1 ac.ft.= 325,851 U.S. gal.