In the News -
Friday, FEBRUARY 8, 2008
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
in the print edition of
photos by Tyler Fraser
When it comes to a primary
election, an unprecedented Super Tuesday lived up to all the hype. The
Republicans now have a clear presidential frontrunner — John McCain
— who won big (707 delegates) and is on track for the nomination;
the Democrats have a two-horse race that’s bound to go down to the
wire and may end with what politicos called a “brokered deal”
between frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Measure C— The Woodlake High School
District’s Measure C $4.5 million bond issue — which will
add classrooms and restrooms and improve athletic and performing arts
facilities — appears poised to be approved with nearly 62 percent
of voters saying yes in a race that only required 55 percent to pass.
Paul Sampietro, Tulare County’s election manager, said he did not
expect a big shift among the thousands of countywide ballots that still
remain to be counted.
Sampietro did, however, want to remind voters that the final
results in all Tulare County races will not be certified for another 10
to 14 days. A complete look at how the local precincts voted will be featured
in the Commonwealth as those results become available.
State propositions— There were no
surprises among the statewide propositions. Voters statewide and in Tulare
County said no to Propositions 91, 92, and 93 and yes to the gaming Props.
94 to 97.
Presidential race— What was really
super about Super Tuesday was that the 24-state primary was nothing short
of a national referendum. Emerging demographic trends among voters now
have revealed target populations for campaign strategists to pursue.
McCain, for example, ran strong everywhere except in the
traditionally conservative South. No Republican candidate has ever won
the presidency without the support of the southern states.
On the Democratic side, senators Clinton and Obama garnered a fair split
of delegates with Hillary holding a slight overall edge, 1,045 delegates
to 960 for Barack.
Among Hispanics, seniors and women, Clinton was the decisive
choice, which fueled her win in California 52 percent to 42 percent. Obama
ran stronger among black Americans, men, and voters under 30.
In Tulare County, the overall voter turnout was 39 percent;
50 percent among Democrats and 39 percent among Republicans. On the Democratic
ticket, Clinton won over Obama 60 percent to 30 percent in the county.
Among local Republicans the race was much tighter than the
statewide results where McCain bested Romney 42 percent to 34 percent.
In Tulare County, McCain received 37 percent while Romney finished second
with 34 percent. Huckabee, the Arkansas governor, swept the southern states
and established that he is a viable candidate to be reckoned with running,
strong among evangelicals and some conservatives.
crashes near Horse Creek
A recent spate of near-tragic
accidents continued this week as one motorist crashed into Three Rivers
School and another came to rest on a rock pile near the entrance to Horse
Creek Campground. The more serious of the two mishaps occurred Tuesday,
Feb. 5, at 5:45 p.m., and could very easily have ended in multiple fatalities.
According to a CHP investigating officer at the Three Rivers
School accident, Gilbert Villegas, 32, of Woodlake was driving westbound
on Sierra Drive when he failed to negotiate the curve east of the intersection
with Eggers Drive. Apparently, Villegas’s 1985 Toyota pickup began
to drift off to the north side of the roadway causing the driver to overcorrect
and skid out of control across the eastbound lanes, over an oleander bush,
and through a steel railing on the school grounds.
The vehicle came to rest against the wall of the eighth-grade
classroom on the northeast corner of the classroom building. No students
or teachers were in the classroom but Sue Sherwood, the school’s
superintendent/principal, heard the impact from her office and hurried
Unconfirmed reports from other persons who were also at the
scene indicated that Villegas had passed out but later regained consciousness
after emergency personnel arrived on the scene. Neither Villegas nor his
dog that was with him in the vehicle appeared to be seriously hurt.
The CHP investigating officer determined that Villegas was
intoxicated and that DUI was the primary cause of the solo-vehicle accident.
Villegas was arrested at the scene and charged with DUI.
“If that had been
a couple hours earlier or during an Open House or another school activity,
somebody could have very easily been killed,” said a school staff
THE LAKE KAWEAH crash occurred Saturday morning, Feb. 2,
when Stacy Holmes, 37, of Exeter was driving a 2005 Suburban westbound
on Highway 198. About 400 feet beyond the Horse Creek Bridge, the driver
became distracted when she reached for something across the seat.
The vehicle left the roadway, became airborne, and landed
40 feet down the embankment on a pile of rocks. Firefighters secured the
vehicle with fixed ropes to prevent the vehicle from shifting prior to
removing a male passenger who complained of neck and back pain. The patient
was transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital. The condition
of the female driver is unknown.
Cable out from
Bowl to Super Tuesday
Last Sunday’s intense winter storm that dumped more
than two inches of rainfall and added several feet of snow in the nearby
mountains also knocked out cable television service to several hundred
Charter Communications subscribers. The entire town of Three Rivers was
knocked out causing widespread anxiety for football fans who were planning
Super Bowl parties around what turned out to be the second most watched
program in the history of television.
Only the final episode of the sitcom M*A*S*H, aired more
than two decades ago, attracted more viewers (102 million) than the 99
million who watched last Sunday’s Super Bowl XLII. Some local fans
tuned in via satellite radio while others watched with neighbors or at
local watering holes that received the Fox network broadcast via satellite
More anxious moments were experienced when on the eve of
the Super Tuesday elections it appeared that the cable service might remain
off the air. Service was restored, however, Monday evening, more than
36 hours after the cable service was first was knocked offline.
In similar outages of the past, storm-related damage at the
cable company’s main transmitter at Blue Ridge has been the source
of the outage. Attempts to contact Charter’s Porterville office
during the outage were answered by a recorded message that the company
was aware of the problem and attempting to restore service as soon as
Aircraft down in Badger… or not
Three Tulare County Fire units responded to 49170 Highway
245 in Badger after receiving a report from a resident that an aircraft
had either crashed or landed nearby. The emergency call was received Saturday,
Feb. 2, at 5:10 p.m.
The area is heavily wooded with scattered residences throughout
the vicinity of the sighting. Responding units contacted Fresno air traffic
control and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department to determine
if any aircraft were reported missing. None were reported missing or known
to be in the immediate area.
The woman who called the county dispatcher stated that she
saw what looked like an airplane crash into a mountain southeast of her
residence. She also reported that she had seen a similar occurrence the
She described to responding units that she heard a loud whoosh
then saw a white glow on the mountain. She did not report seeing any fire
or smoke that might be expected if an airplane had crashed.
The glow she said was accompanied by a loud boom. Responding
personnel concluded that due to the isolated area of the reported crash
site no search could be conducted at that time.
A report of the incident was referred to Tulare County Sheriff’s
Department and Fresno air traffic controllers. The Badger report came
one week after several Texas residents witnessed similar sightings, which
they claimed to be UFOs that were actually tracked by U.S. Air Force fighter
Government sources would not confirm or deny that the Texas
sightings were indeed UFOs. The policy of not releasing incident reports
of UFO sightings, a spokesperson said, is necessary so as not to create
general alarm over sightings that in many cases cannot be substantiated.
Part of what makes living in Kaweah Country so special is
the diversity and quality of local businesses in the region. The Sequoia
Foothills Chamber of Commerce is now 100 members strong and growing, providing
all of the goods and services you need right here in your own backyard.
These quiet, wet winter months are a good time to shop locally
and support area businesses and activities. From dining and groceries,
to a place to have your visiting in-laws stay, to services like banking,
insurance, pharmacy, and home sales, the member businesses of the Sequoia
Foothills Chamber of Commerce offer a wide diversity of opportunities
to meet all of your needs.
Recent ads in The Kaweah Commonwealth highlight the importance
of local residents to the Three Rivers economy. Some ads, like the Gateway
Restaurant & Lodge and Wuksachi Lodge, have offered special discounts
to locals, while other businesses list weekly deals and specials in their
Other ads from the Three Rivers Mercantile and One Earth
Solar thanked locals for supporting their businesses; Rio Canyon Rug Company
has run similar ads in the past. An ad sponsored by Sequoia Gifts &
Souvenirs reminded folks to support our economy by shopping locally.
We all know what a great place Three Rivers is to live and
work. From all parts of the nation and reaching back many generations,
we’ve arrived at this hamlet in the mountains seeking peace, solitude,
and the great quality of life afforded by small-town living.
You can help support a strong area economy by conducting
your business, shopping, and other needs in Kaweah Country today.
1929 ~ 2008
Alan Augustus Savage Jr. of Exeter, also known as “Boots,”
died Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. He was 78.
Services were held Saturday, Feb. 2, at Evans Miller Guinn Exeter Chapel.
Interment was Monday, Feb. 4, at the Exeter District Cemetery.
Alan was born July 2, 1929, in Porterville to Alan A. and
Kathleen Savage of Three Rivers. In 1893, his grandfather, Frederick Savage,
arrived in Tulare County from Liverpool, England, as a member of the Kaweah
Colony. Alan’s grandmother, Annie Harrison, came to Kaweah as a
proper English lady; she is buried on the Savage ranch.
As a youngster, Alan helped his father and uncle Kenneth
Savage on the Savage Apple Ranch on the North Fork, which was renowned
for its apples and cider. He also learned from his father how to pack
and guide in the High Sierra. When he was just 14 years old, his dad had
him lead a string of horses and mules across the Sierra from Horse Corral
to Lone Pine… alone. By the age of 15, he was building trails for
the Park Service in Sequoia.
Alan graduated from Woodlake High School in 1948. In 1950,
he married the former Anna Atkinson of Exeter.
Together, the couple managed the Horse Corral Pack Station
for four years. In the winters, he cowboyed for Herman Colpien on his
ranch in the west valley and assisted his father-in-law, A.J. Atkinson,
on his ranch.
According to his family, Alan was best known for his mountain
man exploits in the High Sierra as a guide, packer, and Dutch oven cook.
He was a horse and mule man extraordinaire, who could shoe a horse on
the side of a mountain quicker than anyone.
He would survive entire summers on just the game and fish
he caught himself and fruit grown on the Savage Ranch. There wasn’t
a canyon or pass in Sequoia National Park and Forest that Alan hadn’t
explored on horseback.
But packer, rancher, and cowboy weren’t the only professions
on Alan’s resume. He owned a painting-contracting business for 18
In 1974, he became a full-time painter at the College of
the Sequoias, while also operating the Red Banks Bar just west of Woodlake.
He retired from COS in December 1991 and the next year was elected to
the Woodlake City Council, where he served until 1999, being appointed
vice-mayor and mayor of the community.
Alan was a past president of the Exeter Sportsman’s
Association, vice president of the Eagles Lodge in Exeter, a member of
the Tulare County Sportsman’s Council, on the board of directors
of the Tulare County Builders Exchange, and three-term president of the
COS chapter of the California School Employees Association.
Alan lived in Tulare County his entire life. When asked by
his children to leave the area so he could reside closer to them, he said:
“There is no better place on earth than Tulare County, San Joaquin
Valley, California, USA!”
Alan is survived by his wife, Pauline Smith Savage, of their
Rancho Exeter; his children, Alan A. “Gus” Savage III and
wife Laurie of Vacaville, daughter Elizabeth K. Hart and husband Bob of
Las Vegas, and daughter Pamela A. Savage of Oregon; seven grandchildren
Veronica E. Warren and husband Mike of Las Vegas, John P. Desbiens and
wife Dee Dee of Las Vegas, Billy L. Palmer and wife Michelle of Palmdale,
Samantha A. Kent and husband Erik of Visalia, Alan A. Savage IV attending
UCSB, and Andrew J. Savage attending UC Riverside, and Anna M. Garza and
husband Ivan; two great-grandchildren; and his two sisters, Mary Anne