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for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
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National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam


In the News - Friday, FEBRUARY 8, 2008

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Only in the print edition of

the February 8 Commonwealth:


with photos by Tyler Fraser


Measure C passes...



  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.


DUI ends at TRUS

Motorist 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 to investigate.
   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 person.
   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

Super 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 TV service.
   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 possible.

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 night before.
   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 jets.
   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.

Support your

local businesses… today

   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 stores.
   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.


Alan ‘Boots’ Savage,

3R native, Woodlake mayor
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 years.
   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 and Janice.

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