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

In the News - Friday, JANUARY 5, 2007







Annual year-end review in photos that, this week, includes the amazing people who have left their mark on Kaweah Country. Next week: THE PLACES




  On Monday, Jan. 1, at noon, 16 hearty revelers made up the growing annual number to experience the 40-degree Kaweah River adjacent to the Gateway Restaurant.

  The dip in the chilly water was part of the sixth annual Polar Dip, which has rapidly become an annual New Year’s Day celebration in Three Rivers.

  Staff at the Gateway stands by with hot soup and cocoa to revive the blood flow in the frozen Polar Dippers.

High Sierra Jazz Band
names new manager

   Earlier this week, Pieter Meijers, the leader of the High Sierra Jazz Band, announced that Sue Mills, who has been the group’s manager for the past 22 years, has resigned.
   Sue stated recently that she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren and at her summer residence in coastal Washington. Her resignation became effective with the New Year.
   During her tenure as manager, Sue negotiated the band’s contracts for jazz festivals, concerts, tours, and cruises. As manager, she was also responsible for publicity, merchandise sales, logistics for recording sessions, and all the group’s finances.

  “We [the members of High Sierra Jazz Band] are deeply grateful for Sue’s long and dedicated years of service,” Pieter said.
Rusty Crain, longtime Three Rivers resident and High Sierra fan, will assume Sue’s duties as manager. Rusty is the son of Chet Crain, a founding member of the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club and the band’s manager during its first seven years.
   The band will be hosting the 34th annual Jazzaffair on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 13 to 15. Besides High Sierra, six bands and several special guests are on the schedule this year.

2007 means expansion
for Three Rivers Realtor

   Real estate analysts and market insiders all agree that 2006 was a leveling off year in the industry. After several good years, followed by a downward trend, is now the time to expand?
   Greg Lockhart, owner/broker of Sequoia Pacific Realty, thinks so, and he’s opened a second location in the newly remodeled corner offices next to the Pizza Factory in Three Rivers.

  “Opening an office in Three Rivers is something I’ve wanted to do since we built our home here in 1997,” Greg said.
   Along with his wife, Pam, who also works in the Tulare County real estate business, the Lockharts’ home is part of an attractive triplex on river frontage adjacent to the Three Rivers Golf Course that has lots of custom features like a lap pool and artistic tile work that frames an expansive patio.
   The new Three Rivers office also features some distinctive décor, including tiled panels by local artist Kevin Yee and windows with a view of the town center, an area that is slated to see some future growth. Greg says he wants to be strategically positioned when that new development occurs.

  “In a typical year, there might be 70 or 80 sales in the Three Rivers market,” Greg says. “In a cycle like the three years from 2003 to 2005, the local market was even stronger and, in the next couple of years, I’m optimistic that there will be a return to that type of business.”
   Greg, who was raised in Porterville, began his professional career in the 1970s as a landscape contractor. Some of his best clients were builders and, before too long, he said, he was selling their properties.

  “I was involved with some of the early real estate sales in Mehrten Valley,” Greg recalled. “That area east of Exeter is the largest subdivision in Tulare County in terms of the lot size. There are more than 300 five-acre lots in that development.”
   Greg said his first real estate sale was in 1986. At first, banks were reluctant to fund construction loans on the Mehrten Valley properties because some planners thought there was a lack of water and the lots were just too isolated.
   As it turned out, there was plenty of water to accommodate the development, and after the first few homes were built, the banks began to routinely fund new construction, Greg said.
   By the early 1990s, Greg was doing business as Lockhart and Associates with an office in Visalia. His company specialized in tracts opening up in Tulare and Visalia. He worked with many of the public agencies to assist buyers of all incomes to find just the right property.
   In 2001, Greg opened an Exeter office and founded his present company — Sequoia Pacific Realty. He and his staff of agents, in association with Buyer’s Choice Mortgage, capitalized on the new subdivisions opening in Farmersville and Exeter.

  “The Three Rivers buyers are a little different than what we typically see in the Valley,” Greg said. “Here we get folks coming to retire and commuters who want to enjoy the Kaweah Country lifestyle.”
   Esther Garcia Hanggi, a Three Rivers resident with local real estate experience, will help Greg staff the Three Rivers office. The company also specializes in property management.
   On Thursday, Jan. 11, from 4 to 6 p.m., Greg and Esther will host an informal open house with a wine-and-cheese reception for all their Three Rivers friends, neighbors, and potential customers.

  “We’d like to invite everyone to come by and see the new office,” said Greg. “We have plans to do more upgrades to this property and are really looking forward to serving the needs of our Three Rivers clients for many years to come.”

Year in Review:

A look back at Summer ‘06

JUNE 2006

  June 2— An Orange County man had to be rescued from an island in the middle of the Kaweah River. The swiftwater incident occurred Sunday during the peak of the busy Memorial Day weekend. Dehdrel Madrigal, 31, of Santa Ana, was a guest at Kaweah Park Resort. He was told by the campground’s staff not to enter the dangerous water.
   While the rescue was ongoing, 20 Marines were making an assault on some of Kaweah’s most challenging rapids on a rafting trip with local guide Frank Root. One of the Marines was Steve Turner, a staff sergeant and grandson of Bruce and Pat Turner of Three Rivers. The Turners hosted the detachment from Southern California for some much needed rest and relaxation.
   Stacy Kozakavich, a Ph.D. candidate and UC Berkeley instructor, concluded another field archaeology season with the help of some local volunteers. Kozakavich is studying the archaeology of Advance, an outpost of settlement used by the Kaweah Cooperative Colony in the 1880s.
   WHS graduated approximately 150 with much pomp and circumstance. The class had a number of high achievers who were awarded numerous scholarships. A noteworthy retirement was that of Sally Pace, who worked at Woodlake High since 1971 and most recently as dean of students.
   June 9— Mount Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park proved deadly for Patty Rambert, a renowned peak-bagging enthusiast and mountaineer from Orange County. Rambert, 57, was within 300 feet of the summit when she lost her footing and was unable to self-arrest.
   A driver using a cell phone caused a two-car wreck on Sierra Drive. “I guess I became frustrated by another dropped call and didn’t realize that I had crossed the centerline,” said James Moody, 57, of Visalia.
   Lake Kaweah breached its new spillway for the first time. The 190,000+ acre-feet of water was the largest storage at the reservoir, which was built in 1962 and enlarged in 2004.
Six Three Rivers students graduated with the Exeter High Class of 2006. One other local student graduated from Central Valley Christian High School.
   Chief John Zapalac won the primary election for sheriff in the Three Rivers precincts but lost to incumbent Bill Wittman countywide.
   June 16— A four-car pileup at Slick Rock injured seven in an accident that apparently was caused when a motorist was distracted by swimmers in the high water of Lake Kaweah adjacent to the roadway. David Alford, 33, of San Luis Obispo and the driver of one of the vehicles was the most seriously injured and airlifted to a Fresno hospital.
   A firebug lit two separate grass fires along the highway adjacent to Lake Kaweah. The blazes had local firefighters concerned, but neither spread to nearby structures.
   Katie Keeley, a TRUS seventh grader, won the MUSES Special Award, a $1,000 award presented to a junior high school female for achievement at the California Science Fair.
   The Assistance Service Dog Educational Center in Woodlake graduated six golden retrievers.
   June 23— The Blue Pig stirred some roadside controversy from its temporary location at Sunset and Sierra Drives. The prevailing opinion was that the mobile memorial monument designed for display at the annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada is indeed art and its beauty, or lack thereof, is in the eye of the beholder.
   David Wind, a Three Rivers resident and award-winning Tulare County builder, showcased a new adult community under construction in east Visalia. The tract is named Sierra Ventana and features solar power a number of other energy efficient amenities.
Jeff Taylor of Three Rivers caught a seven-pound, 25-inch brown trout while fishing at Shaver Lake.
   ZZAH released a new CD, “Higher Feelings.” It is the popular smooth jazz group’s seventh.
   June 30 – Chasity Dorn, 20, of Tulare slipped into a pool in the East Fork of the Kaweah River near the Oak Grove Bridge on the Mineral King Road. After being swept downstream, the victim was missing and presumed drowned.
   Valerie Abanathie, Three Rivers School business manager, retired after 34 years.
   A new skate park opened in Woodlake at Miller-Brown Park. The $25,000 project was a community effort developed under the auspices of the YMCA and the City of Woodlake.

JULY 2006
   July 7— A Senate appropriations bill contained $300,000 in federal dollars earmarked for Tulare County to be used in the local war against pot growers.

  “Marijuana cultivation on federal lands is a huge public safety issue,” Supervisor Allen Ishida said.
   Searchers continued to comb the East Fork canyon for signs of Chasity Dorn, a 20-year-old swimmer missing since June 24.
   Cyber Café logged on for a second year. Owners Tony and Pat Moreno celebrated the first anniversary of the computer services business with a daylong open house featuring free demos and refreshments to say thank you to all their customers.
   Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce celebrated the opening of their new visitor center with a ribbon cutting (June 29) at the Three Rivers Historical Museum.
   July 21— Nearly three weeks after she was swept into the whitewater of the East Fork of the Kaweah River, a search and rescue task force recovered the body of Chasity Dorn. A local resident spotted the victim after searching in the area where another victim had been found previously.
   Petty thefts spiked in Three Rivers during the busy summer season. Evidence of one break-in on North Fork Drive was covered up when the thief allegedly set a fire that consumed a garage where several missing items were reported prior to the structure exploding into flames.
   Firefighters in Kings Canyon National Park discovered and recovered a nearly intact piece of what archaeologists call Owens Valley brownware. The pottery find was made near Cedar Grove and estimated to be between 150 and 500 years old.
   David Mills, a commercial agent with Century 21 in Three Rivers, returned from a salmon fishing trip to Sitka, Alaska. He proudly displayed one keeper king salmon that weighed in at more than 26 pounds.
   Gary Tomlin, a former Three Rivers resident, continued to languish in state prison having served four years of a 51-year-to-life sentence for an alleged sex crime. After recently passing a lie-detector test, Tomlin was hoping to convince the California Supreme Court to hear an appeal of his case.
   July 28— Manuel “Joaquin” Holguin, a U.S. Army specialist from Woodlake, became the area’s first casualty in the Iraq war. Joaquin, 21, had enlisted in the Army in 2002 while still a senior at Woodlake High School.
   Daytime temperatures reached triple digits for an extended period, making it one of the hottest Julys on record. Highs in Three Rivers on several consecutive days ranged from 113 to 119 degrees.
   Three Rivers Mercantile opened its automatic doors to an enthusiastic array of home improvement and construction hardware shoppers.
   Fire crews from Sequoia-Kings Canyon were working 21 separate blazes caused by recent thunderstorm activity. Fourteen of the fires were being managed as wildland fires while seven were suppressed.
   Sona Sargent of Three Rivers started rejuvenation of her Three Rivers’ clients with ongoing services including facials, now available at the TRU Salon and Day Spa in Three Rivers.


   August 4— This historic issue contained the results of the eighth annual Best of Kaweah Country. Hundreds of readers voted for their local favorites in seven categories: Dining, Around Town, Shopping, Recreation, Lodging, Social Scene, and Out and About.
Temperatures were moderating slightly after one of the hottest July months ever recorded. Daytime highs still flirted with 100 degrees.
   August 11— Maile Peck, a well-known and beloved member of the Three Rivers community died at age 70 in a Visalia care facility.
   The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved the half-cent transportation tax to be placed on the November ballot.
   Bill Montgomery, Three Rivers’ resident highway maintenance worker, announced that resurfacing on North and South fork drives would begin after Labor Day.
   Russell Alan Bloom, 43, a Visalia financial controller, was rear-ended and killed by a drunk driver while waiting on his motorcycle to make a left turn on Sierra Drive.
   Seasonal temperatures returned after local residents endured three consecutive weeks of triple digits. Even a high of 96 degrees was welcomed relief.
   Warren Luke Campbell was ordained into the ministry at the Church at Kaweah by his father and grandfather, also ordained ministers.
   August 18– David Quintero, 22, of Three Rivers, an Iraq war veteran, died from injuries after a solo vehicle accident near Horse Creek. Quintero was employed as a seasonal firefighter at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and was returning from Visalia in the pre-dawn when he apparently fell asleep at the wheel.
Construction began on the Generals Highway from Big Fern Springs to Amphitheatre Point.
   We Three Bakery & Restaurant added dinner to the menu. It was the first time that the popular Three Rivers eatery served dinners in its 27-year history.
   Local law enforcement officers embarked upon what was anticipated to be a busy marijuana eradication season in the foothills of Tulare County. One of the first gardens raided was in Sequoia National Park in the line of sight of Moro Rock.
   Concurrently with operations in Sequoia Park, Yosemite Park rangers raided three plantations pulling 12,451 marijuana plants. It has become evident, one law officer said, that the growers have adopted a “Costco” mentality meaning in terms of these operations bigger is better.
   August 25– The prep work on the Generals Highway reconstruction project included the replacing of an 80-year-old rock wall piece-by-piece. Each rock that was re-used was numbered so as to re-create as near as possible the original appearance of the roadside feature.
   The body of Linda Salness, 56, of Hershey, Penn., was recovered from a remote section of the San Joaquin River in Kings Canyon National Park. Salness was on a backpacking trip with her husband when she disappeared. She was presumed to have drowned as her body was recovered approximately one-half mile downstream from where she was last seen 18 days before.
   Smoke inundated the Middle Fork Canyon each morning for a week as several fires continued to simmer in the nearby mountains. Unhealthy air quality added to the woes of the return of triple-digit temperatures.
   The Huddleston Brothers — Bruce and Stan — returned to the deck of Silver City for their annual concert of banjo and piano-playing in this high-country setting.

It’s hoops season

for 3R youth

   A signup session is scheduled for kids in first through sixth grades who wish to play basketball this winter. Come to the Three Rivers School gym Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m., to register players.
   Games will be played Monday and Wednesday evenings. There will be two age divisions: first through third graders and fourth through sixth graders.
   The fee is $25 per player, which includes a pizza party at season’s end. For more information, call Mike LeFave, 561-4014.

How to dispose

of the Christmas tree

   Three Tulare County landfills — Visalia, Woodville, Teapot Dome — will accept Christmas trees free of charge through Saturday, Jan. 6. The only catches are that the trees must be free of flocking, decorations, and tree stands.
   Trees brought to the landfills will be recycled by being chipped into compost. The free tree-disposal program has been ongoing since 1990 to encourage wood and green-waste recycling.


Herman Ziegler,

longtime Woodlake High

vice principal

  Herman O. Ziegler died peacefully at his Visalia home on Friday, Dec. 29, 2006. He was 83.
   Services were held yesterday (Jan. 4, 2006) in Visalia.
   Herman was born in Visalia on Aug. 18, 1923. He attended Visalia schools and was a football star at Visalia High School (present-day Redwood), where he graduated in 1941.
   One of his first jobs was as an usher at Visalia’s Fox Theatre. He served in the military during World War II, where he learned the sport of boxing.
   He began his teaching career at Redwood High School, but it was his long career as Woodlake High School’s vice principal where he secured his place in local history. He was a fixture at the high school for nearly 32 years, from Sept. 1, 1957, to July 31, 1989.
   Herman was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Irene, and his parents.
   He is survived by his daughter, Sandra Knight, and her husband, Rich, of Iowa; his sister, Anna Mae Bratcher and husband Jim of Visalia; brother Hans Ziegler of Visalia; two granddaughters; three great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
   Remembrances in Herman’s name may be made to: Woodlake High School Foundation, P.O. Box 475, Woodlake, CA 93286.
   Condolences may be sent via email to:

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