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In the News - Friday, jANUARY 20, 2006

Storms bring down

trees in Sequoia

General Sherman Tree

loses large limb;

Mineral King cabin

sustains damage

   In the aftermath of the New Year’s weekend storms, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks employees were dealing with widespread tree damage. The heavy winds caused some major damage to at least two giant sequoias.
   Sequoia rangers reported that the Telescope Tree, a fire-hollowed giant sequoia on the Congress Trail in Giant Forest had been toppled. Closer to the Generals Highway, a six-foot-diameter branch fell off the General Sherman Tree, making the largest tree on the planet a little less giant.

  “During the significant wind event over the New Year’s weekend, numerous trees fell throughout the parks,” said Russ Wilson, deputy superintendent. “While trees fall every winter, our challenge is to protect human safety and maintain access into these fabulous national parks.”
   The hazard giant sequoia at the Kings Canyon National Park entrance that received a limb-trimming in November was not damaged.
   In the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, which is closed to the public in winter, a patrol ranger reported that a large tree had fallen across the historic Runciman cabin in East Mineral King.

  “When I first heard the news I thought, oh no, here we go again,” said Jon Runciman, an Exeter resident who is the family member in a group of users mostly responsible for the upkeep of the 100-year-old structure.
   Runciman, who is also a board member of the Mineral King Preservation Society, went through a similar experience 10 years ago. In the winter of 1995-1996, another major storm toppled a tree that smashed into the kitchen of the Runciman cabin and caused extensive damage.
   Early last week, Runciman traveled into the Mineral King Valley on a snow cat to inspect the recent damage and put on what he described as a “big Band-Aid” for the rest of the winter. It was déjà vu and a very pristine winter day in the Mineral King Valley, Runciman reported.

  “What was remarkable was that it wasn’t even the tree next to the cabin that the Park Service crew had flagged as hazardous,” Runciman said. “It was a much younger and healthier-looking white fir on the western side so you can imagine the force of the wind that must have ripped through the valley.”
   Runciman said damage was not as bad as he had feared. He is consulting with Tom Burge, the parks’ archaeologist and cultural resources coordinator, who reviews any remodeling of structures within the Mineral King Road Cultural Landscape historic district.

  “The cabin was built in 1906 for Archie Robertson, a foreman with the Mount Whitney Power Company,” Runciman said. “We wouldn’t change the overall appearance, and the restoration will strictly adhere to preservation guidelines.”

Woodlake cop in movie

that opens tonight

‘The Visitation’ is

a supernatural thriller

   After being filmed entirely on location in Tulare County 16 months ago, The Visitation makes its local debut today at Galaxy Theatres in Porterville and Tulare. The movie, starring Randy Travis and Kelly Lynch, is produced by Namesake Entertainment and being distributed by 20th Century Fox to cinemas nationwide.
   The supernatural thriller, with several of its most gripping scenes filmed in Woodlake, marks the big screen debut of Ron Hughart. Hughart, as a lieutenant with the Woodlake Police Department, first agreed to assist the film’s producers by lending some patrol cars and drivers.
   In gratitude for considerations the department received, Hughart gave the producers a copy of his book, The Place Beyond the Dust Bowl (Bear State Books, 2002). By a quirk of fate, Robby Henson, the film’s director, was in the producer’s office and saw the back cover of the book with a picture of its author, Ron Hughart. He knew instantly when he saw that photo that it was a look he had imagined for his “demons.”

  “They arranged a screen test and I was chosen from more than 50 who tried out for the part,” Hughart said. “What they told me was that sometimes a certain look is far more important than acting experience and film credits.”
   So the good-natured lieutenant was instructed to grow his hair and beard; the more grisly the better.

  “For awhile, I had to tell people I met why I looked so gruesome,” Hughart explained. “But the filming was a great experience and I can’t wait to see which scenes ended up in the picture and how it all turned out.”
   Though Hughart’s portrayal of “Tall Man Two” is a non-speaking part, he will be very prominent in a gripping story of a small town possessed by a mysterious stranger and more than its share of demons. In one scene, Hughart’s character turns into a bat and flies into the stomach of Brandon Nichols, played by Edward Furlong.

  “With a cast that includes Randy Travis and Kelly Lynch, you will recognize some faces,” Hughart said. “For others like me, this is our movie debut.”
   But Hughart did a lot more than act in the numerous demon scenes. He was invaluable as a production assistant and helped the director solve several logistical problems.

  “One scene, filmed at the Woodlake Presbyterian Church at 2 in the morning, called for the three principal demons to appear in the doorway veiled in thick smoke,” Hughart said. “But because the day’s shooting was taking so long, all the special effects people had already left the set.”
   Hughart said that’s when he went out to his patrol car and retrieved several flares that were lighted at curbside below the church steps.

  “The director said that was the best smoke he had ever seen,” Hughart said.
   Another time, Hughart had to deal with an unruly drunk who came out of a nearby residence during a scene being filmed in a cornfield near Visalia.

  “I showed him my badge and said that if he didn’t vanish he was going to jail,” Hughart said. “It must have been the dramatic way I said it because he was immediately quiet and left the area.”
   Lt. Hughart said there is no glitzy Hollywood premiere set for tonight’s opening, but everyone who worked on the movie has been invited to a special public showing at the debut at the Horizon Outlet Center’s new Galaxy Theatres in Tulare. Prior to the screening, the executive producer will address the audience and thank Tulare County for helping to bring this story to the big screen.
   The director has told Hughart that once this movie is released, he can expect more directors and casting agents to come calling. He’s already appeared in two commercials and two other films being made by Blockbuster.
   Hughart said even with his sudden celebrity he won’t be leaving the Woodlake Police Department anytime soon to pursue a Hollywood career. But when he retires, he said, it would be an interesting way to travel and spend some spare time.
   The running time of the movie is 100 minutes. It is rated PG-13 for its scenes of spiritual warfare.

Woodlake announces

annual honorees

   It’s not too often that a Three Rivers person can make it into the prestigious pages of the Woodlake history books, but every now and then, there’s a high-school senior that’s just exceptional enough to make the cut.
   At the 44th annual “Man and Woman of the Year Banquet,” scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m., at the Woodlake Memorial Building, Soukarana Stephens, a Woodlake High School senior from Three Rivers, will be honored with one of two Youth of the Year awards. Traditionally, a male and female, the other “Youth” honoree will be Sara Villegas of Woodlake.
   Other 2006 honorees include:
Man of the Year— Randy Powell.
Woman of the Year— Linda LaFleur.
Spirit of Woodlake— Diana Pearcy.
Man of the Decade— Frank Ainley.
Woman of the Decade— Sally Pace.
Business of the Year— Super Taco.
   Diana Pearcy recently retired from the Woodlake Family Resource Center.
   Frank Ainley retired in December after more than 30 years of teaching and coaching at Woodlake High School.
   Sally Pace has announced her retirement in June 2006, also after more than 30 years at WHS, first as a teacher, then as Dean of Students.
   The Business of the Year is being sponsored by the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce. Super Taco, at its prime location on Naranjo at Valencia, is a popular restaurant that serves fresh food fast. The building was recently renovated and expanded to include a meat market.
   The event is hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Woodlake. Advance tickets are available for $25 at the City of Woodlake office, Country Chicken, and Woodlake Growers Supply Co. Only 200 tickets will be sold, so a limited number will be available at the door for $35 each.


Helen B. Fenn
1912 ~ 2005

   Helen B. “Honey Bee” Fenn, formerly of Three Rivers, died Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005, in Lander, Wyo. She was 93.
   A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 28, 11 a.m., at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. The Reverend Keith Edwards, former Community Presbyterian Church pastor, will preside.
   Helen B. Windes was born Nov. 14, 1912, in the Canal Zone of Panama to William Norment Windes and Helen (Blome) Windes. She was raised in Long Beach, one of four daughters.
   She graduated from Pomona College with a degree in psychology.
   On June 19, 1940, she married Elbert Dwight “Al” Fenn Jr.
   Al worked for the YMCA for 44 years, and during the last 15 years of his career, the Fenns traveled throughout the United States, raising funds for the nonprofit group. Upon retirement, Helen and Al retired to Three Rivers, where they built their home they called “Rocky Ridge.”
   The Fenns were members of the Community Presbyterian Church. They helped establish The Holy Rovers, a recreational vehicle group, and Firesiders, both of which are still in existence under the auspices of the church.
   The couple enjoyed traveling, especially enjoying the American Indian and Polynesian cultures. Their travels together included spending a month at a time with the bare necessities on a remote beach in Hawaii or in the red rock country of the western U.S.
   In 1999, Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Al. She was also preceded in death by her daughter, Evelyn Booker.
   She is survived by her son, David E. Fenn of Lander (formerly of Three Rivers); granddaughter Amy Goode of Madison, Wis.; grandson Jod Booker of Kanab, Utah; and her sister, Margaret MacPherson, of Vancouver, B.C.
   Memorial donations may be made to the Al Fenn Memorial Fund for Youth Work, in care of Community Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 685, Three Rivers, CA 93271.

Harold Foreman
1928 ~ 2006

   Harold D. Foreman, a lifetime resident of Tulare County, died at his Visalia home on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006. He was 77.
   Harold was born in 1928 in Lemon Cove. He graduated from Lindsay High School and the College of the Sequoias.
   While living in Lindsay, Harold earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He was a Boy Scout troop leader for many years and enjoyed taking his troops on camping trips.
   Harold was retired from Southern California Edison as a switching operator. He was a member of the Gateway Church in Visalia.
   He and his wife, Patricia, enjoyed the time they spent at their cabin in Silver City, near the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park.
   Harold is survived by his wife of 55 years, Patricia; two daughters, Diane Gladieux and Margo Kreider; a son, Kent Foreman; six grandchildren, Joshua Gladieux, Heather Gladieux, Kyle Foreman, Katrina Foreman, Jessica Kreider, and Megan Kreider; his older brother, Ed Foreman, and a sister-in-law, Lois Foreman.
   A service was held Tuesday, Jan. 18. Interment was at the Visalia District Cemetery.
   Remembrances may be made to: The Gideons International, 1048 Hoover Way, Hanford, CA 93230.

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