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In the News - Friday, February 22, 2013



Only in the

February 22, 2013, print edition:

SNOW DAY, a pictorial of

snowfall in Three Rivers


Construction set to begin

on new Sequoia Cider Mill

by Holly Gallo

  With much of the larger debris now cleared from the site, construction will commence on the rebuilding of the landmark Sequoia Cider Mill Restaurant on Sierra Drive. The restaurant burned to the ground in June 2012, tragically claiming the life of 13-year-old Geordie Gonzalez, the owners’ nephew.
   Efrain Ponce of Woodlake and his wife, Martha, bought the nearly 100-year-old Cider Mill from Hector and Juliette Delcon in 2007, owners of the historic eatery since 1982. Efrain was waiting to rebuild pending compensation from the insurance claim; although not completely settled, he now has $150,000 to finance the initial demolition and construction.
  “It’s because of the people of Three Rivers and their support that we decided to rebuild,” Efrain said.
   He said that he and the Cider Mill extended family are grateful for the support received from Three Rivers after the fire.
   While the new restaurant will retain its name, it will have a brand-new look. The modernized kitchen will be twice the size of the previous one.
   The biggest change, however, will be the two dining rooms that will be available for private meetings, receptions, and parties. One will have a 30-person capacity; the other will seat 15 to 20 patrons.
   Nearly all of the former employees, many of whom are family, will be returning to work at the new Cider Mill.
  “It’s hard when you talk about the accident because it becomes fresh again,” Efrain said. “But I asked the family how they felt about rebuilding and they said ‘Yes, rebuild.’ From that moment, we started to plan.”
   Ponce will be on site as the general contractor, however, another contractor was hired to oversee the project to avoid a conflict of interest. He anticipates that the project should be completed in early summer assuming all goes according to schedule and they can “put overtime into it.”

3R residents targeted in separate scams

   When Tim Ward, Tulare County District Attorney, was here earlier this month for the Three Rivers town meeting, he said that embezzlement, computer crime, and white collar fraud in general are the fastest growing crimes over the past decade.
   If the nonstop computer phishing is not annoying or scary enough, it has currently been reported that now some especially bold scammers are calling on the telephone and saying that someone you know, like a grandson, for instance, has been involved in a terrible accident and cash must be sent by wire service immediately.
   Several Three Rivers residents have been targeted for the phone fraud in the past few weeks and perhaps could have become victims of a robbery too if they had followed the caller’s instructions. The latest scam goes something like what Bill and Carol Clark of Three Rivers experienced this week.
  “We received a call from a guy who identified himself as a public defender by the name of Frank Albright,” Bill said. “He told us our grandson Cody had been involved in an accident and we needed to send $2,000 via Western Union to be divided among two different victims.”
   Bill said their first reaction was to go down to the bank and withdraw the funds even though the caller’s story didn’t make sense. The Clarks thought it was peculiar that the money was supposed to be wired in two slightly different amounts to the victims of the accident who both resided in the Dominican Republic.
   When Bill told the caller there was no Western Union in Three Rivers, he was instructed to use the Popular Market at 356 E. Naranjo in Woodlake.
   At first, Bill or Carol could not immediately reach their grandson, who the caller had identified by name, so perhaps there was some validity to the accident. That’s when they phoned the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department to find out if in fact any accident had occurred involving their grandson.
   They were told that no incidents involving Cody had occurred in any local jurisdiction.
  “When I tried to return the call to Mr. Albright to the number on the caller ID with a 661 area code, nobody came on the line,” Bill said. “Fortunately, later we were able to get in touch with Cody and he told us he had been at work all day.”
   Last week, a South Fork resident called to report that he encountered a phone scam that involved a caller who informed him that he had just won a huge cash prize. To claim the jackpot, all he had to do was bring $500 in cash to cover handling and contest fees to the Walgreens in Visalia and claim his winnings.
   The man reported that he didn’t believe for a minute that anything was waiting for him at Walgreens other than an attempted robbery.
   Unfortunately, scammers and fraud artists can glean lots of personal information from social network sites like Facebook or Twitter so they sound truly convincing when they drop names of loved ones or know that a family member or friend is away from home on an extended trip.
   Fraud investigators preach cardinal rules for avoiding these scams. The most important is: If it sounds too good to be true or too far-fetched, it’s probably a hoax.

Gulf of Alaska storm dumps rain and snow

  By Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, everything was in place for the perfect February storm. Cold, unstable air was coming ashore in California and the long-awaited next round of moisture would be guaranteed for some areas where rainfall has been scarce since December. Good conditions turned even better when by early evening, it was raining steadily from Visalia to Three Rivers.
   The cold rain was bone-chilling, so that meant in the higher elevations this storm was making snow. In Three Rivers, by about 9 p.m., the steady rhythm of the rain suddenly went silent. That’s a sure sign that rain has turned to snow.
   The thick, fluffy snow was falling all the way down to Lemon Cove where Margaret Disinger, who with husband Roger owns and operates the Sequoia-Lemon Cove Campground, reported the nearby hills were accumulating the wet, white stuff all the way down to the 800-foot elevation.
   With each hundred feet or so in elevation climb there was a slight increase in accumulation.  In Three Rivers at 1,000 feet, there was one to three inches; at Ash Mountain and on the  Mineral King Road below 2,500 feet, there was three to four inches.
   By Wednesday afternoon, most of the low-elevation snow had melted. The foot or so of snow that fell in the Mineral King valley and at Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park will hang around for a while longer, adding to the two feet already on the ground as temperatures will remain below or at normal for the next seven days.
   In 2012, on the last days of winter (March 17-18), dozens and, by some estimates, hundreds of trees came crashing down when a late-season snowstorm arrived in the area. It was a perfect storm for tree fall; several inches of wet, heavy snow on trees already made heavier by early spring budding and leafing.
   As for this year, one forecaster said the recent precipitation is a start to getting back to normal but more cold storms are needed in March. The next chance for more of the same is being forecast for Saturday, March 2.

The Art Co-Op and Colors Gallery now conjoined

By Holly Gallo

  An sense of organized chaos is the initial feeling when walking through the doors of the recently renovated The Art Co-O/’p. The eye-catching part of the renovation, along with the softly painted khaki and warm sea blue walls, is the thick timber threshold now merging the two art venues into one venture as the Co-Op now comes under the Colors Gallery umbrella.
   The two stores, located just upriver from Three Rivers Market, are open Thursday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
   When Co-Op organizers found themselves facing tough times, they and their neighbor, Jeremy Cormier of Colors, were able to formulate a way to keep the gallery doors open. Jeremy said that his first instinct when he heard of the Co-Op’s looming sabbatical was to do whatever he could to make sure it would ultimately succeed.
  “I wanted to do this as a favor to the artists,” Jeremy said. “I didn’t want them to not be represented.”
   Now, between the two stores, the creations of 60 local artists are on display. And there’s more available than simply “pretty stuff,” as many of the locally made wares and products are completely functional.
   Despite the merging of the spaces, The Art Co-Op will remain a somewhat separate entity. Though the co-op is now an expansion of Colors in administrative and legal respects, Jeremy plans to maintain visual autonomy within a blended theme for the Co-Op.
  “The thing is, I have no interest in running it like a co-op,” he said. “Some of [the artists] do come in and volunteer their time because they want to; they want to talk about their art, and   I’m fine with that. But part of a co-op is that you have to work a set number of days if you’re going to show your stuff in here, and I don’t have that rule.”
   With years of experience in marketing, advertising, and merchandising, Jeremy said he plans to use his expertise to make people stop and see the works of the local artists at the Co-Op and Colors. Part of the plan is to get brochures into nearby hotels, motels, and vacation rentals.
  “I have a strong belief that marketing and advertising is what you need to make your business grow,” Jeremy said. “The statistic is one-point-something million people drive through this town to get to Sequoia and only a small percentage of them stop. So what I’m focusing on is getting people to stop.”
   Jeremy said that thanks to 1st Saturday, the Studio Tour, and other galleries in town, Three Rivers is well on its way to establishing itself as a quality art community.
   Part of the success is that artists in Three Rivers themselves have developed a following over the years that both local residents and tourists will enthusiastically respond to having so many represented in the one-stop shop that the merging of Colors and The Art Co-Op has provided.
  “I want people to know that they can come here for good, quality products,” Jeremy said. “So much of the art in these two spaces is bright, cheery, and colorful. It has real character, a real whimsy to it. It’s not a stuffy art gallery.”

‘Chasing Clean Air’ discovers Three Rivers

  A popular blog and Internet radio show based in Southern California entitled “Chasing Clean Air” broadcast a segment about Three Rivers this week. And another show featuring an upcoming visit (March 7-10) to Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park by its creator and host Donna Barnett is scheduled to be shown on PBS television affiliates.
   The one-hour radio show aired Tuesday, Feb. 19, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., and has already been heard by hundreds of listeners. One listener from North Carolina reportedly emailed for information about how to get camping equipment for a summer visit.
   The series that features both audio and television segments was created by Donna Barnett, a self-described blogger who is on a mission to tell her followers and listeners where they can go to enjoy clean air and some off-the-beaten-path places.
  “I found myself here in Southern California wondering where I might escape the air pollution and the congestion to explore and do outdoorsy things like hiking and my photography,” said Barnett. “I started a blog that evolved into the call-in talk shows that now will be aired as TV programs, too.”
   Donna said she suffers from some ill effects of living in the city like asthma and altitude sickness and that Three Rivers is an ideal place to acclimate for a visit to the nearby mountains and the Giant Forest.
  “I’ve been to Yosemite and the crowds really turned me off,” Donna said. “The smaller number of tourists and the opportunity to experience nature on a more personal level got me interested in Three Rivers and Sequoia.”
   The recent program on Three Rivers featured Rick McVaigh, an air quality specialist with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; Rusty Crain, manager of High Sierra Jazz Band and Jazzaffair director; John Elliott, who spoke on behalf of The Kaweah Commonwealth; and Dennis Villavicencio, owner and operator with his wife, Stacie, of the Buckeye Tree Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn.
   McVaigh said the air quality in Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park is significantly better than in the San Joaquin Valley. He cited the fact that Sequoia had only three unhealthful days in 2012; the Valley had more than a dozen.
   The other local guests all offered something unique about Three Rivers from its outstanding natural environment to the cultural history and traditional music. The host concluded by saying she is extremely excited about her upcoming visit to Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park and that she is planning to attend the March 9 performance of the High Sierra Jazz Band at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.
   To listen to this take on Three Rivers that is sure to give listeners even more reasons to visit, the program is archived at: www.blogtalkradio.com/chasingcleanair/2013/02/19/chasing-clean-air-three-rivers-sequoia-national-park.

Snow learners

(Photo caption) The annual three-day field trip of students from La Joya Middle School in Visalia took place in and around Three Rivers this week. On Wednesday, Feb. 20, amidst a backdrop of a wintry landscape at Ash Mountain headquarters in Sequoia National Park, rangers explained to the seventh-graders about career options available with the National Park Service. The theme of the visit was watershed ecology, and the students visited Lake Kaweah, the Kaweah River, and the nearby national park. The school’s annual visit is funded by the Visalia Kiwanis Club; accommodations are provided by Sequoia Village Inn, just outside the park entrance. For several of the students, it was their first time visiting Sequoia National Park and experiencing snow.

Mendelssohn in love and Haydn surprises

News of the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute

By Bill Haxton

  This Saturday, Feb. 23, one of chamber music’s fastest rising ensembles on the global scene will perform three centerpiece compositions that are among the most popular ever written.
   Over the past two years, the Calidore String Quartet has garnered an astonishing collection of top prizes in the most coveted North American and European competitions, outdistancing even some established veterans.
   Lead violinist Jeffrey Myers, cellist Estelle Choi, second violin Ryan Meehan, and violist Jeremy Berry will perform Haydn, Bartók, and Mendelssohn on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m., at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.
   The show opens with one of Joseph Haydn’s most famous pieces, Quartet No. 62 in C Major, Op. 76 No. 3. Father of the String Quartet, Haydn was a central figure in Vienna, friend to Mozart and teacher of Beethoven.
   Born very poor, he spent most of his life in the employ of various nobles who in the days before iTunes employed musicians as part of their uniformed household servants. Haydn was known for his sense of humor and love of practical jokes, as in his “Surprise Symphony” composed to jolt dozing listeners awake.
   While working for the Esterhazy family, Haydn composed this piece, known as “Emperor” because in it he borrows from his own song “God Save Emperor Francis.” The first movement is quite merry, while the second takes a more thoughtful, melancholy turn. The third hastens the pace, and in the demanding rapid-fire fourth movement, Haydn brings listeners home in a thrilling, gorgeous finale.
   Hindemith’s String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22, is his most popular quartet and one of his most direct in expression and style. Opus 22 is written in five short movements.
   The first, slow, is fairly chromatic and features brilliant contrapuntal writing. The second bristles with energy and interesting rhythms.
   The themes and harmonies of the calm middle movement lean toward Bartók. The last two movements are modeled after the baroque concertante: the fourth is very fast and the fifth is a lively, appealing Rondo.
   After the intermission, it will be all Mendelssohn and his famous String Quartet No. 2, which he may have written to exorcise his emotions following a youthful love affair. After the contemplative introduction, the first movement erupts into tumultuous yearning for something ephemeral, just out of reach.
   In the second movement, a comforting prelude gives way to unsettling counterpoint that raises questions without answers. The third movement begins as a graceful nocturne, but soon runs off to fairyland for one of those shimmering scherzos Mendelssohn always kept up his sleeve.
   The nocturne returns, but the fairies and moonbeams get the last word. The fourth movement starts with a tempestuous violin over tremolos from the other instruments.
   A reminder of the first movement merges with the second movement’s fugue, and as other themes are telescoped together the piece closes with the contemplative opening theme.
Mendelssohn seems to be telling us that we’ve just spent half an hour listening to what love feels like to him.
   Bank of the Sierra has generously sponsored this concert, making it possible to reach out to children and students and to keep ticket prices at an affordable level.


Bud Barnes
1922 ~ 2012

   Morell G. “Bud” Barnes Jr. died November 19, 2012. He was 90.
   A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 2, at 11:30 a.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. All who wish to attend and share memories of Bud are welcome.
   Bud was born in Grosse Isle, Mich., on February 28, 1922. He lived in Three Rivers from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. He was an active member of the Three Rivers Lions Club and continued his involvement even after moving to Visalia.

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