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In the News - Friday, January 28, 2011


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)




Some of the spectacular scenes experienced last year

Charges dropped in sexual battery case

  Sexual assault and battery charges were dropped Tuesday, Jan. 25, in a case involving Stanton Zaharoff LaVey, 33, and Mishael Beth Nicely, 24, residents of the Encina apartment complex in Three Rivers. The two were arrested Saturday, Jan. 22, after a 19-year-old female told Sheriff’s deputies that she had been battered and sexually assaulted by the couple.
   The 19-year-old, who lives nearby, alleged that LaVey and Nicely held her captive by binding her with duct tape and then assaulted her. When deputies examined her, she had abrasions and bruises on her arms and neck.
   The Tulare County District Attorney’s office elected not to file charges in the case until more information could be substantiated. According to the law, the D.A. has 48 hours from the time of the arrest, not including weekends and holidays, to file charges.
   An investigator said there were too many unanswered questions to proceed at this time with the case. The investigation is ongoing.
   The case has attracted media attention as LaVey is the grandson of Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997), founder of the Church of Satan.
   Anyone with information in this case is asked to contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department at 733-6221.

Motorcyclist dies

in Sierra Drive accident

  Jocelle Cruz Cleto, 45, of Three Rivers died Sunday, Jan. 23, from injuries he sustained in a collision when the 1985 Honda motorcycle he was riding collided with a 2002 Chrysler Pacifica near Summit Drive in Lemon Cove. The fatal accident occurred at 6:20 p.m. while Cleto was heading eastbound toward Three Rivers.
   A witness, who was following Cleto, said as he approached the straight-away coming out of the second S-curve, Cleto suddenly crossed the center line and down-sided the motorcycle, colliding head-on with the oncoming car driven by Krystal Parraz, 27, of Lemon Cove. It happened so fast, the CHP report stated, that Parraz had no time to take evasive action.
   No evidence of the use of drugs or alcohol was noted in the CHP report. Cleto was transported to Kaweah Delta Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.
   Cleto was married with three children, a musician, and an evangelist, according to information posted on his Facebook page by a family member. A memorial service for Cleto will be held Sunday, Jan. 30, from noon to 3 p.m. at Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park (Chapel of Oaks), 300 Curtner Avenue, San Jose.

A winter of records and extremes

  Talk about bipolar behavior. That’s how National Weather Service forecasters are describing what Old Man Winter has been up to lately.
After one of the wettest Decembers ever, we are now in the throes of one of the all-time driest Januarys. If it hadn’t been for the soaker on New Year’s Day, nary a drop would have been recorded the entire month.
   Since we got all that snow in December — 10 feet at elevations above 7,000 feet — the snowpack is suddenly slipping away. In fact, it’s evaporating right before the very eyes of those fortunate enough to be up in the High Sierra to enjoy the beauty of the early winter. That 10 feet is now seven feet.
   The evaporation happens when the air temperature heats up on one sunny day after another like the stretch that’s occurring daily in the higher elevations. If you spend the daylight hours in the flatlands, thanks to one of the worst Tule fog seasons in recent memory, you probably haven’t even noticed that the sun still exists.
   But what happens way up there where all the snow was dumped is a phenomenon called “ablation.” Glaciologists describe the process as the melting of snow by evaporation mostly because the afternoon air temperatures get so warm.
   It’s been as warm as 50 degrees at 10,000 feet. That’s sending some of that snow where it’s supposed to go, down the Kaweah drainage. But in addition to the runoff, some of the precious wet stuff is evaporating into thin air.
   If that trend keeps up much longer it could spell disaster for farmers and downstream users who are counting on that water content to sustain much of Tulare County in the summer months.
   But there are two critical factors that forecasters say are reasons not to be too worried just yet. First, it’s only January. February and March are typically the wettest months of the year.
   Secondly, La Nina seasons like this one have intense periods of storminess followed by extended dry stretches, so it’s a safe bet that more moisture is on the way.

Geotourism workshop

planned for Three Rivers

  Want to put your business or favorite tourist attraction on the map? Then plan on attending the Sierra Nevada Geotourism workshop hosted by the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce in the Kaweah Room at Comfort Inn on Thursday, Feb. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m.
   Attendees will learn how to navigate the nomination process to have an annual event, an outstanding attraction, or just about any destination that qualifies listed on a global map-guide and interactive website, which is sponsored by the National Geographic Society.
   The Sierra Nevada Geotourism project is being made possible by a partnership between the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Sierra Business Council and seeks to celebrate and promote the Sierra Nevada region as a world-class destination. Attendees are encouraged to bring a laptop and log on to Comfort Inn’s free WiFi to access even more information during the program.
   To register for the free workshop, call Chris Schlossin at 561-4453.

3R students invited to

enter Student Speaker Contest

$21,000 top prize for overall winner

in Lions-sponsored event

by Arthur Ogawa

  Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley stood before the local Lions Club, proudly holding a plaque. His prized plaque was a certificate for a Lions-sponsored student speaker contest that he had won when he was in high school. Cooley credited the beginning of his career in law to his participation and winning of the club’s student speaker competition.
   Lions clubs throughout California still offer this opportunity to high school students. The Student Speaker Contest, now in its 75th year, is being sponsored by the Three Rivers Lions Club. With a grand prize of $21,000, this year’s challenging topic is “Enforcing Our Borders: State Versus Federal Rights.”
   Students interested in participating should contact Arthur Ogawa (Art.Ogawa@gmail.com) by Thursday, Feb. 3, for detailed guidelines about the competition.
   The Student Speaker Contest is open to students, including foreign exchange students, in grades nine through 12. Students may attend any high school, middle school, charter school, private school, home school, or independent study and must write their own speech on the subject.
   The Three Rivers Lions Club competition is open to students residing in Three Rivers. It will be held Thursday, Feb. 17, 6 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.
   The winner of the club contest will progress through several levels of the contest, ending with the final round on June 4. Each level of competition includes monetary compensation starting with $25 for finalists and $75 for the winner of the Three Rivers Lions Club Student Speaker Contest.
   Additional information is available at:
studentspeaker.md4lions.org/ and http://ssf.md4lions.org
   Art Ogawa of Three Rivers is the chairman of the Three Rivers Lions Club’s Student Speaker Contest.

1st Saturday: Artists alive and well in 3R

by Landon Spencer

  When Disney hatched a plan in the 1960s to make Mineral King the site of a $35 million ski resort and entertainment complex larger than Squaw Valley, Ansel Adams and the Sierra Club fought the project, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court. Though ultimately defeated in court, the Sierra Club sufficiently slowed progress enough to convince Disney to throw in the towel.
   Ansel Adams was a determined and effective activist, but perhaps even more instrumental was the lobbying he did indirectly through his art. Like many who came before and after, Adams brought the American landscape into people’s homes and brought people out of their homes to engage the world around them.
   Not surprisingly, perhaps, the role of the artist in society hasn’t changed all that much. We still look to artists and the art they create to document events and places, to bring beauty and appreciation into our lives, and to help us see the familiar in unfamiliar ways.
   As Marc Chagall has said, “The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.”
   Unfortunately, when times are tough financially, art is often considered an unnecessary luxury.
   1st Saturday was created, in part, as a response to the recession.
  “Hard times fuel the imagination and creativity of the artist,” says Nadi Spencer, creator and coordinator of 1st Saturday.
   On the first Saturday of each month, participating artists, restaurants, gift shops, and galleries invite the public in and offer special promotions. Each month is themed, with February’s a celebration of the Chinese New Year (look for the Chinese dragon meandering through town, courtesy of TRUS students).
   But aren’t all these artists just creating more competition for themselves in an already sluggish market?
  “I don’t think so,” said Wendy McKellar of Colors Art Gallery.   “We’re not competing so much as complementing each other.”
  “We work off each other,” agreed Zach Zachary, tiki-sculptor extraordinaire.
   Essentially, the artists, performers, and businesses that participate are pooling their resources and sharing the benefits.
   Ultimately, the benefits are not just for artists but for the community as a whole.
   Kacey Fansett, who gives free watercolor lessons at Anne Lang’s Emporium on 1st Saturdays, used to teach art in Visalia. Watching the students from Three Rivers regularly drive down the mountain to take her classes finally convinced Kacey that we should “bring it all here.”
   Three Rivers has always been a good place for artists.
  “Maybe not for sales, but for inspiration,” said Wendy.
   Art is not expendable. Nadi deems art a “basic human need.”
  “Art plays a special role in helping a community stay connected. It provides inspiration and insight, an outlet for expression and color. If it isn’t supplied locally, people will find it elsewhere.”
   For further information, see First Saturday blog at www.1stsaturdaytr.com.
   Landon Spencer writes from her Three Rivers home.

'Sequoia Speaks' announces 2011 series

  It’s an annual speaker series specifically geared to Three Rivers and other Tulare County residents — now in its third year — that is developed by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ interpretation division. These programs aren’t the typical campfire programs that are created for first-time visitors to the parks and presented by a seasonal interpreter; they are, instead, in-depth multimedia presentations presented by researchers and other experts who live and breathe the subject on which they will passionately share.
   This year, Sequoia Speaks kicks off Saturday, Jan. 29 (tomorrow), and will continue each Saturday through February 26. The series will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Three Rivers Arts Center and is free and open to the public.
   Here is this year’s lineup:
   January 29: Climate is Changing and So Must We— Speaker - Koren Nydick, science coordinator.
   February 12: Fire in the National Park Service: An Evolving Relationship— Speaker - Tony Caprio, fire ecologist.
   February 19: Taking the Long View: Park Biologists and Citizen Scientists Working Together to Monitor Alpine Plant Communities— Speaker - Sylvia Haultain, plant ecologist.
   February 26: A Legacy of Joseph Grinnell [naturalist]: Prediciting the Future from the Record of the Past— Speaker - Jim Patton, curator and professor emeritus (UC Berkeley).
   All ages are welcome to attend, but parents should gauge the topic to the interests of the child. Some subjects are technical, however, most are accompanied by a multimedia presentation.

Retrospective: Three Rivers Ambulance Service

by Sandy Owen

Part 2
   This is the final installment in a two-part series on the history of the Three Rivers Ambulance, which was in service from 1956 to 2010. Part 1 was published in the January 21 issue.
   Early in the 1970s, the dispatch center in Visalia assumed the responsibility for making the telephone calls for a Three Rivers Ambulance crew. In 1978, the volunteers received the first pagers that would tone out everyone at once.
   In 1982, technology allowed voice pagers with the capacity to monitor all dispatches. But until the end of the Three Rivers Ambulance Service in 2010, the mountainous location made two-way radios unreliable. The result of this problem was that the fire dispatch center in Visalia always kept track of whether or not the ambulance was covered (they did an admirable job).
   There are about 220 people listed as volunteers for Three Rivers Ambulance from the beginning of the service to the end. Not all covered calls, but all did as much as they could to help the service survive.
   The theme that is consistent in the minutes from 1956 through 2010 is that there was always a search for able bodies. Every medical call required about three hours from dispatch to returning home. Many were longer if the dispatch was to Sequoia or if there was extended scene time.
   Increasing state and local regulations for the level of medical training added to the difficulty of finding volunteers. Residents with jobs and families found it difficult to train to the higher levels required.
   The ambulance board provided individualized medical training in Three Rivers to make it easier for volunteers. One of the highest trained EMTs serving at the close of the service was John Hanggi, grandson of one of the founders, Bernie Wollenman.
   Thanks to the support of the local community, the financial standing of the ambulance was always very good. The last ambulance was purchased for $86,000 in 2002, compared with $200 for the first. Insurance was $9,000 annually as compared with the initial $240.
   From simple stretchers to electric gurneys, from Band-aids to 12-lead EKGs ($35,000), costs and training kept increasing, but the ambulance was always able to cover expenses.
   The final personnel were: Art Molina, M.D., medical director; board of directors Mary Staberg, president; Ray Murry, vice president; Sylvia Diaz, secretary; Sandy Owen, treasurer; members Mike Condon, Rich Crain, Rusty Crain, John Hanggi, Ginny Stone, Dave Vasquez, and Dennis Villavicencio; and ambulance crew, Frank Ainley, III, Sylvia Diaz, John Hanggi, Steve Mayfield, Robert Meeker, Kent Owen, Sandy Owen, Dave Vasquez and Dennis Villavicencio.






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