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, FEBRUARY 15, 2008

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Local precinct results
reveal voter trends

   Whether you voted or not on Super Tuesday, it’s in everyone’s interest how locals vote and what these numbers mean for the November election as well as the future of Kaweah Country communities.
   In Three Rivers and Woodlake, the overall turnout was approximately 50 percent. Both totals far exceeded the Tulare County-wide turnout of 39 percent. Democrats voted at a higher percentage than their Republican rivals. The fact that a higher percentage of Democrats voted Tuesday, Feb. 5, was a nationwide trend in all the Super Tuesday primaries.
   Local registered Democrats and declined-to-state voters cast their ballots much like Democratic voters statewide. Senator Hillary Clinton defeated Senator Barack Obama in six of seven local precincts including Three Rivers, Woodlake’s three precincts, and Elderwood.
   Only Ash Mountain voters cast a Democratic majority, 59 percent for Obama to 33 percent for Clinton.
   In keeping with statewide and national trends, only about 50 percent of registered Republicans voted in the local precincts while, among Democrats, more than 70 percent voted on Super Tuesday. Local voters on the Republican ballot did what California Republicans did but with one exception. In six local precincts, Republicans voted overwhelming for national frontrunner Senator John McCain. In the Three Rivers precinct, the split among the top two finishers was as tight as it gets: McCain with 93 votes and Governor Mitt Romney, 93 votes.
   Measure C, at last count, was still well ahead of the 55 percent required and is expected to be passed. Although the certified final result may not come until the end of this month, recently counted ballots have actually revised the majority upward of the 62 percent that was announced as the “precinct final” on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
   The greatest majority for the Woodlake High School $4.5 million bond issue occurred in the largest Woodlake precinct with 928 voters. In that precinct, voters approved Measure C by a 74 percent to 26 percent margin.
   Ironically, one small Woodlake precinct with only 331 votes failed to pass the bond issue; 52 percent voted yes to 43 percent no. In addition, Elderwood voters passed the school initiative by a narrow margin, 56 percent to 44 percent.
   Ash Mountain voters approved Measure C 60 percent to 40 percent. In Three Rivers, the vote totals for Measure C were only slightly lower with 58 percent yes and 42 percent no.
   What does it all mean? First and foremost, more voters, regardless of party affiliation, vote in Three Rivers than overall in Tulare County. As might be expected, among the more numerous Republican voters, moderates and conservatives are divided right down the middle in Three Rivers, a community that has always valued its independent lifestyle.
   In the Woodlake district, Elderwood votes more conservatively than voters who live in town. Among Democrats, Hispanic voters gave the nod to Clinton over Obama nearly two to one.
   But the most obvious message from Super Tuesday is that voters in Woodlake and Three Rivers believe in supporting a sensible initiative, especially if the tax dollars are invested locally. According to its proponents that’s what Measure C is really all about, and they believe that one of the best high schools in the Valley just got a little better.

Burglars target 3R homes

   Sheriff’s deputies are not saying whether the recent burglaries in Three Rivers are related, but they are warning residents to upgrade security and be alert to suspicious activity. Two weeks ago it was an Encina Drive residence where a break-in was reported.
   On Tuesday evening (Feb. 12), sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 10:40 p.m., a South Fork Drive residence near the Cinnamon Creek area was burglarized. Missing in that break-in are a flat screen television, a Sony receiver, four speakers, a laptop computer, a cable box, and a battery charger. The victim reported losses with a value of more than $1,000.
   There have been several other incidents recently and in each one there are striking similarities. The perpetrator(s) chooses a property, carefully making sure that the residence is unoccupied.
   The break-ins occur during the early evening hours after nightfall. In each case, expensive electronic devices were stolen, which can be quickly converted for cash.

  “We don’t have any leads right now,” said Jim Fansett, resident deputy. “I wasn’t on duty during the most recent break-in and another deputy filed a report on the incident.”
   Deputy Fansett said he is part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by Tulare County Sheriff’s Office detectives.
   Anyone with information in any of the cases is requested to call the TCSO dispatcher at 733-6262.

Public comment

sought on Yokohl Ranch

   It was a small, seemingly yet another step in a lengthy permit process. On Tuesday, Feb. 12, when county planners made public that they had received a Notice of Preparation and Initial Study from the Yokohl Ranch Company, the project’s clock officially started ticking.
   For David Bryant, a planning division manager who received the 45-page document, it means that County of Tulare and other “interested parties” must respond by March 14 to the applicants’ request for information that is pertinent to the environmental considerations of preparing an Environmental Impact Report for the multi-phased project.
   The project, which seeks to develop a master-planned community in 20 to 30 years on 9,500 acres east of Exeter, is unprecedented in scope and magnitude for Tulare County. The first step for the county as lead agency is to call for a scoping meeting so members of the public may voice concerns and make suggestions as to what the applicant needs to specifically address in the Environmental Impact Report.
   That preliminary scoping meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 3, and will be held in the Exeter Senior Center at 3 p.m.
   The Yokohl Ranch Company’s request for scoping is urgent because according to the correspondence in the project: “…we [the applicant] need to know the views of your agency [the County of Tulare] and interested parties [the public and other agencies] as to the scope and content of the environmental information that is germane to your agency’s statutory responsibilities in connection with the proposed project.”
   The initial scoping documents identify more than a dozen areas where impacts of the proposed project might be potentially significant so the applicant is certain to be on the business end of a huge undertaking. The EIR is expected to take at least two years and cost millions to finalize.
   In other county planning news, the Board of Supervisors and the Tulare County Planning Commission will hold a joint public hearing to hear public comment on the EIR relative to the County’s General Plan Update 2030. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb 26 at 1:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting room at 2700 Burrel Ave. in Visalia.
   For more information, call 733-6271.

Author to discuss

‘Train Robber’s Daughter’

   Jay O’Connell, formerly of Three Rivers, will kick off a new speaker series to be held at the Discoveries West Gallery and Archives, which opened last fall in the Village Shopping Center. The presentation will be held tonight (Friday, Feb. 15), beginning at 7:30 p.m.
   A culmination of nearly 10 years of research, Jay’s recent book, Train Robber’s Daughter: The Melodramatic Life of Eva Evans, 1876-1970, was released this month. The book follows the life of Eva Evans, the daughter of infamous Tulare County outlaw Chris Evans, for nearly a century, from her Tulare County birth to her Laguna Beach death.
   Because of the extensive research, the book is also a compendium of Tulare County history, visiting many places not often seen or heard of anymore: Stone Corral, Deep Creek Cemetery, Auckland, Redwood Ranch, Camp Badger, Kaweah Colony, Wilcox Canyon, and more.
   It is a story of holdups and shootouts and jailbreaks, of family ties and courtroom battles, of birth and death and marriage and divorce, and of a young woman coming of age in the San Francisco limelight.
   Jay was raised in Three Rivers, graduating from Three Rivers School, Woodlake High School, and the College of the Sequoias before heading south to attend the University of California at Irvine. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and two young sons.
   Jay’s day job is as a television production manager, however, Train Robber’s Daughter is his third nonfiction book. His previous titles are Co-Operative Dreams: A History of the Kaweah Colony and A Strength Born of Giants: The Life and Times of Dr. Forest Grunigen.
   He is currently at work on his fourth book on local history, "The Battle Over Mineral King: Walt Disney, the Sierra Club, and a Small California Town" (namely Three Rivers).
   Tonight, Jay will discuss how Train Robber’s Daughter came to fruition and read passages from the book. He will answer any questions as well as be available to sign copies of the book, which will be on sale during the program at a reduced price of $15, a savings of more than 25 percent.
   The presentation is free and open to the public.

3R sisters vie

for county crown

   Since 2004, Three Rivers has provided two Miss Tulare County winners — Janessa Wells (2004) and Meaghan Swinney (2007). So odds are good that another homegrown young woman will be selected, especially since one Three Rivers family is providing two of the 11 contestants for the 2008 competition.
   The 57th annual event, which is an official preliminary contest to the Miss California and Miss America pageants, is sponsored by the Visalia Kiwanis Downtown Club. It will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., at the Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia.
   Taking to the stage this year will be sisters Jennifer and Tracy LaMar. Jennifer recently completed her reign as Miss Stanislaus County, where she was crowned last year, qualifying to compete in that county because she is a student at California State University, Stanislaus.
   Tracy, like Jennifer, was raised in Three Rivers and graduated from Woodlake High School. She is in her second year at the College of the Sequoias.
   Jennifer and Tracy are the daughters of Steve and Elizabeth LaMar and the granddaughters of Jim and Vivian LaMar, all of Three Rivers.
   During the pageant, the contestants will participate in a swimsuit competition, talent competition, evening wear competition, and on-stage interview competition. In attendance will be Miss California 2007 Melissa Chaty.
   In addition to the winner of the pageant advancing to the Miss California contest there is also $14,000 in scholarships up for grabs that will be presented in several categories.
   Tickets are $20 for general admission; $10 for students, available at the theatre’s box office.
   For more information, call 625-1369.

WHS votes in

statewide mock election

   If it were up to the middle and high school students of California, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain would be facing off in November as their parties’ presidential nominees, California shouldn’t adopt a mandatory voting law, and people shouldn’t pay higher vehicle registration fees for cars that produce more pollution.
   Woodlake High School, along with more than 240,000 other students from 450 middle and high schools across the state took part in the election, sponsored by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, to vote for the presidential nominees. They also voted on three simulated ballot initiatives that were specially written to pique the interest of young people in the democratic process.
   According to Kevin Skeen, a WHS teacher who was an advisor to the election project, 52 percent of the WHS student body voted, of which there was a nearly 50/50 split between males and females. And of the 409 WHS students who voted, 30 percent were ninth graders, 29 percent were 10th graders, 20 percent were 11th graders, and 19 percent were 12th graders.
   WHS students voted conservatively on the three state ballot measures that were presented, but they voted a resounding 83-percent YES to the one local measure on the ballot, Measure C, the real-life bond issue that will provide tax dollars for WHS campus improvements.
   Of the WHS students 58 percent voted for Democrats, 14 percent for Republicans, while 12 votes went to the Peace and Freedom party, 11 to Libertarians, nine to the Greens, and 11 to American Independent.
   Statewide, Democratic students voted for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, 56.37 percent to 35.05 percent. John Edwards came in third with just five percent of the vote with the other candidates each receiving less than one percent each.
   Interestingly, at Woodlake High, Barack and Hillary tied, each receiving 107 votes or 44.77 percent, with Edwards receiving 14 votes (5.86%).
   On the Republican side, statewide John McCain grabbed the nomination with 27.29 percent of the vote. Mike Huckabee came in second with 20.37 percent, then Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul, respectively.
   At WHS, Republicans voted for Rudy Giuliani (14 votes; 23.73%), then John McCain (12 votes, 20.34%), then Ron Paul third, with a tie for fourth between Huckabee and Romney.
   Woodlake High students voted nearly in line with the statewide count on the ballot initiatives created just for the students. The measures were:

  Ballot Measure 1— Should the registration fee that every car or truck owner is required to pay each year be based, in part, on the amount of pollution the vehicle emits?
WHS: Yes 35.55% No 64.23%
State: Yes 45.59% No 54.41%

  Ballot Measure 2— Should every eligible citizen be required to vote?
WHS: Yes 42.43% No 57.57%
State: Yes 40.32% No 59.68%

  Ballot Measure 3— Should people who use email, instant messaging, text messaging, and the social networks to bully or harass others be allowed to do so as part of their constitutionally-protected right to free speech?
WHS: Yes 39.59% No 60.41%
State: Yes 40.96% No 59.04%

Woodlake Kiwanis

name banquet honorees

   The following will be honored at the annual dinner event on Saturday, Feb. 23:
   Man of the Year— Greg Gonzalez.
   Woman of the Year— Tori Johnson.
   Youth of the Year— Karla Thompson and Zak Alsumari.
   Spirit of Woodlake— Robert Groeber and Jackie Harris-Groeber (Three Rivers).
   Lifetime Achievement— Judi Vaccaro.
   Business of the Year— Substation.
   See the Kaweah Kalendar page on this website for event details.

Silver City Resort

has new owners

   It’s official. Norm and Connie Pillsbury announced last week that the popular Silver City Mountain Resort in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park has changed ownership.
   The new owners are Philip and Kalina Bay who live in Athens, Greece, headquarters for the couple’s worldwide travels.
According to the former owners, change will be barely perceptible because the new owners will continue the current stewardship of the property.

  “He [Philip Bay] has hired Forrest Jones, our son, to be the general manager and make all the on-the-ground decisions, leaving the large decisions for himself,” Norm stated. “He has a keen sense of stewardship and wants to keep the same atmosphere and environment at Silver City.”
   Forrest Jones, who currently lives in Visalia with his wife Katrina, was practically raised in Silver City. His family has been associated with the ownership and operation of the resort property for several generations and that’s where Forrest and Katrina met. Connie Pillsbury, Forrest’s mother, recently marked a 25th-anniversary summer of her tenure running the renowned restaurant, store, and cabin rental operation.

  “We feel very blessed that we found someone who understands the resort and the mountains and wants to work with the community and Park Service leaders,” Norm said. “We are even more blessed that Forrest and Katrina will be there running the resort.”
   Norm, a professor at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, said he will be retained to work on some special projects to ensure that the water system and some of the subtleties of running a mountain property continue to run smoothly.

  “We’ll still be around from time to time, but mostly we plan to do more hiking,” Norm added.
   Silver City, a section of private land that was originally reserved as a timber claim in the 1880s, developed as an enclave of cabin properties surrounded by Sequoia National Park. The majority of Silver City’s residents, much in the custom of the Mineral King cabin owners, only occupy their cabin properties during the summer season.
   Silver City Resort has employed legions of high school and college age youth for decades of summers and is famous for its fresh baked pies, hot showers, and family atmosphere. The traditional summer opening of the resort property is the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, coinciding with Sequoia National Park’s annual opening of the Mineral King Road.


Jack R. Lott
Clara Lott Barton
1936 ~ 2008

   Clara Mae Lott Barton and Jack Rae Lott, both of Hobbs, N.M., were twins, with Clara being born three minutes before Jack, who died within two days of each other, on Sunday, Jan. 13, and Tuesday, Jan. 15, respectively.
   Clara and Jack were born Jan. 3, 1936, in Gentry, Ark., to Austin and Myrtle Lott. They were raised in Three Rivers and Woodlake and graduated from Woodlake High School.
   After high school, Jack worked for several summers at the Wolverton Pack Station, run by Lee Maloy of Three Rivers. He continued to work with horses his entire life.
   Clara was diagnosed with cancer in October 2007. Jack was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in December 2007.
   Clara and Jack are survived by their brother, Jim Lott, of Boise, Idaho, and sister Betty Hensley and her husband, Vern, of Visalia.
   Clara is survived by her daughter, Marcella Taylor, and husband Rich; three sons, Jeff, Rodney, and Gary Williams; and seven grandchildren.
   Jack is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years, Linda; four sons; six daughters; 25 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
   Separate services were held last month in Hobbs.
   The family says that they would love to hear from anyone who remembers Clara and/or Jack. Condolences may be sent to

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