In the News -
Friday, FEBRUARY 29, 2008
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
Tulare County Fire Department units responded Wednesday morning,
Feb. 27, to a propane explosion and structure fire at Montecito-Sequoia
Lodge in Giant Sequoia National Monument. The cross-country ski resort,
operated by Sequoia-Kings Canyon Park Service Company, is located eight
miles southeast of Grant Grove off the Generals Highway.
The explosion and fire destroyed a two-story building used
to house staff on the top floor with restrooms and showers for employees
at ground level. Access to the area was difficult due to ice and snow
on the roads leading to the popular year-round resort.
On arrival, firefighters found the collapsed building was
totally destroyed. At the time of the explosion, Don Anderson, a maintenance
worker, was sleeping in one of the four bedrooms located on the second
The explosion caused the second floor to collapse onto the
lower floor where the showers and bathrooms are located. Anderson awoke
and soon realized he was buried in the rubble. A fellow employee heard
the explosion and came to the aid of the victim.
By calling repeatedly to Anderson, the other worker was able
to direct Anderson to crawl out of the first floor of the collapsed and
burning structure. Anderson was then transported by fellow employees in
a private vehicle to Sierra Kings Hospital in Reedley.
Miraculously, Anderson suffered only cuts and abrasions to
his left shoulder. There were no other injuries, and the cause of the
explosion and blaze are currently being investigated.
a second term
“It takes 12 years to
hit your stride as a supervisor and after that you become a politician.”
Those prophetic words were how Supervisor Allen Ishida summed
up one of his goals to serve three terms after announcing that he was
officially seeking a second term. Ishida’s opposition on the June
3 ballot for the non-partisan District 1 seat on the Tulare County Board
of Supervisors is Guy Christian, a former CDF employee who now works in
the office of the Tulare County District Attorney.
Ishida, 59, of Lindsay, was elected to his first term in
2004. The incumbent said he is excited about what has been accomplished
in the past four years, but there is still a great deal of work to do.
“I think it takes
four years just to build the relationships at the state and federal level
to be effective in county government,” Ishida said. “We need
the continuity in office to be more successful in our lobbying efforts.”
Arguably, nobody has worked harder on bringing about change
in county government. During Ishida’s first term, a new county fire
department was created, federal money was allocated for the eradication
of marijuana on county lands, and most services at county offices have
been vastly improved.
But even more important to local voters, Three Rivers, for
the first time in the modern era, has a real opportunity for leadership
in county government.
“Three Rivers now
has direct input in planning and transportation because there are folks
up here who have the background and expertise that we need in countywide
decision-making,” Ishida said. “These positions help to build
relationships that steer tax dollars locally to promote tourism and partner
in economic development.”
Ishida said on March 5, Resource Management Agency officials
will walk the property adjacent to the Three Rivers Post Office to assess
the feasibility of a Measure R-funded transit center.
“The transit center
initially could be a shuttle stop for tourists with public facilities
like restrooms,” Ishida said.
Building a transit center, Ishida said, paves the way for
some added retail that could centralize key services within walking distance
of hotel rooms, banks, post office, markets, and restaurants. The town
center then could evolve as a jumping off and connecting point for a Three
“Three Rivers has
told me that the County should be investing some dollars to promote tourism
and the Board is getting the message loud and clear,” Ishida said.
“We’re developing some new programs with the local chamber
that will help every business in town.”
3R couple targeted
Everyone at one time or another has probably envisioned the
Publisher’s Clearing House van pulling up to the house. There’s
a knock at the door and suddenly one member of the sweepstakes team hands
you a check for an astronomical sum and suddenly all your wildest dreams
Believe it or not, this scenario does happen, but the odds
of it happening to you are even more astronomical than the check amount
for millions. But what often happens is that lots of folks, just like
you, are scammed under the guise of the legitimate sweepstakes.
The odds are far better that you will receive a bad check
than actually be chosen as a winner.
In fact, that’s what happened recently to Bob and Nell
Leyhe of Three Rivers. They received an official-looking check but had
the good sense to alert the fraud bureau of the Tulare County Sheriff’s
just too good to be true, then it’s probably not,” said one
investigator. “We’ve had reports of a number of these checks
turning up, and if they are cashed the money has to be returned.”
According to a Publishers Clearing House website, here’s
how the fake check scam works. Scam artists, after “phishing”
for your address, send you an official looking letter claiming to be from
a legitimate sweepstakes.
The letter illegally uses the name of a well-known company
like Publishers Clearing House in attempt to reel in the unsuspecting
catch. There’s a very real looking check that in many instances
has been cashed by a bank or other check-cashing institution.
Even though the check is bogus, if it’s deposited,
the money may be made available for a short period of time. Federal law
allows banks to make the money available quickly, usually within one to
five days depending on the type of check.
But just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t
mean the check is valid. It can take weeks to discover the forgery and
that’s what the scammers are counting on. They hope you think the
check is real and with a sum of cash in hand, you send them back a “deposit”
on the winnings.
The scam artists explain that the deposit is an advance on
millions in winnings and the additional payment covers taxes or a processing
fee. Whatever the scammers promise, the results are always the same.
If you cash the check and send money you will be out twice.
You are responsible to pay the bank back plus a bad check fee, and you’re
out the amount you sent back to the scammer.
Keep in mind: A real sweepstakes will never ask you to send
money to enter a sweepstakes, claim a prize, or to pay a fee, tax or deposit.
There is no legitimate reason to wire or send money back.
Always use common sense and do not be duped. If you believe
you are a victim of a fake check or any other scam, notify the Tulare
County Sheriff’s Department and then contact the National Fraud
Hotline at 1-800-876-7060.
Woodlake doles out gratitude
crop of benefactors
ON THE NIGHT BEFORE THE ACADEMY AWARDS were held in Hollywood,
Woodlake held their own version of the esteemed event and celebrated some
of their own for achievements, not in film, but more importantly, in volunteerism
and community activism.
Sponsored this year on Saturday, Feb. 23, by the Kiwanis
Club of Woodlake, the 46th annual Woodlake Awards Banquet recognized eight
individuals with a presentation and beautiful student-made plaques preceded
by a Mexican dinner prepared by club members. In attendance were more
than a hundred Woodlake residents, a scattering of Three Rivers residents,
and several dignitaries.
Bill Maze, California assemblyman (R-Visalia), and his wife,
Becky Maze, who is on the June ballot as a Republican candidate running
for her husband’s termed-out seat in the 34th Assembly District,
mingled with the crowd during the social hour.
Connie Conway, 2008 chairman of the Board of Supervisors
and rival Republican candidate for the 34th Assembly District, presented
proclamations from the Tulare County supervisors during the awards presentation.
The honorees also each received a certificate from Congressman Devin Nunes
(R-21st District) and acknowledgment from John Zapalac, Woodlake’s
chief of police.
Here are 2007's honorees:
Man of the Year
Greg has lived in Woodlake almost his entire life and is
a graduate of Woodlake High School, College of the Sequoias, and Fresno
State. He and his wife, Linda, have three young children.
Greg is working toward a Master’s degree in Social
Work while working at the Woodlake Family Resource Center.
He volunteers on behalf of his community in many ways, most
recently as an advocate for Measure C, the recently passed Woodlake High
School bond measure that will upgrade arts, athletic, and academic facilities
on the campus. He assists in the coordination of the Toys for Joy drive
each Christmas, is on the board of directors at the Woodlake Food Pantry,
is a former president of the Kiwanis of Woodlake, coaches youth sports,
and is a former Salvation Army board member.
Woman of the Year
Tori and her husband of 15 years, Jeff, moved from Southern
California to raise their two sons in a small town. For the past seven
years, Tori has worked at Castle Rock Elementary School in Woodlake and
is the head varsity volleyball coach at Woodlake High School and Woodlake
Club Volleyball coach. Tori is the coordinator of the Woodlake chapter
of Friday Night Live, a program that begins in middle school to educate
students about the risks of drinking, smoking, and drugs. She assists
each Christmas with Woodlake Toys for Joy, organizes the Bike Rodeo during
Woodlake’s Western Week, is a Sunday school teacher, organizes fundraisers
for various groups and sports programs, and never says no when she hears
of a family in need in the community.
Spirit of Woodlake
Although Robert and Jackie live in Three Rivers, they have
devoted much time and energy for the betterment of Woodlake High School
and its students and programs. Their two children have graduated WHS and
gone on to college in the past few years, but the couple’s involvement
at the school continues.
Jackie was raised in Three Rivers and graduated from Woodlake
High School and the College of the Sequoias before leaving to continue
her education. She and Robert met while attending the University of Redlands
and returned to Three Rivers in 1991. Robert was a tireless advocate and
instrumental in the passage of Measure C, Woodlake High’s bond measure
on the February ballot, organizing and participating in the many informational
Their children were involved in several sports as well as
Choir, Band, Art, and Theatre Arts, and the couple has been involved as
boosters in every program. Robert has worked on the “chain gang”
for home football games since moving to Three Rivers and is a former treasurer
of the WHS Football Boosters.
The couple has led 15 college study trips, taking prospective
college students from the high school to visit various colleges, as well
as participated in the annual Senior Exit Interviews. Three years ago,
Jackie and Robert were instrumental in organizing a local Club Volleyball
team, a program that has nearly quadrupled in size since that first year
and is open to athletes from Three Rivers and Woodlake.
For more than 10 years, Jackie has taught music and singing
to junior high students at Three Rivers School. She is also the longtime
music director at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers and
was PTA president at TRUS in 1996-1997. Jackie and Robert have also participated
in the American Cancer Society’s 24-hour Relay for Life and assisted
in the building of a home for Habitat for Humanity.
Judi was raised in Visalia and has been married to her high
school sweetheart, Brian (former Woodlake Public Schools principal/superintendent),
for 47 years. The couple has four grown sons.
Judi retired in 2005 after teaching for the Cutler-Orosi
Unified School District for an astounding 42 years. In addition to all
the services she provided above and beyond the call of duty for that school
district, Judi has also found time to serve her hometown of Woodlake
in various capacities, including as a longtime member and Sunday school
teacher at Woodlake Presbyterian Church, a former 4H leader, an advisor
at the middle school and high school, and as an organizer of the annual
Mexico Mission Outreach and Western Week fundraisers.
Business of the Year
Civic pride is very important to David Singh and his wife,
Harvinder. The couple moved to Woodlake 15 years ago and purchased the
Substation on the northeast corner of Valencia and Naranjo, Woodlake’s
The Substation has undergone a complete renovation in the
past year. Further upgrading the community’s image, the Singhs recently
purchased the Quik Shop on the southwest corner of the intersection and
are currently remodeling that business as well.
In addition, the couple enjoys providing financial support
to various programs that benefit the youth of Woodlake.
The Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce sponsors this award
each year. Chamber president Lino Moran presented the award to the honoree.
Youths of the Year
These two Woodlake High School seniors were recognized for,
among other things, their positive attitudes and willingness to serve.
ZAK— Fresh off his win has Homecoming
King 2008 and now being named the Kiwanis Club’s Youth of the Year,
it’s obvious that Zak’s accomplishments are being recognized
by both his peers and community members.
Zak, who has lived in Woodlake his entire life, has participated
in FFA, as well as at the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center, training
a golden retriever to learn the skills necessary to help a disabled person.
He works at the Pizza Factory in Woodlake while also finding time the
past four years to volunteer with the Woodlake Police Explorers. Zak plans
on attending COS in Visalia in the fall.
KARLA— If Karla had accumulated any
more community-service hours, she probably wouldn’t have had time
to attend high school. All WHS students are required to complete 85 hours
prior to graduation; Karla has more than three times that.
Karla plans to pursue a career in art. A mural by Karla can
be seen at the Visalia Oaks ballpark. She also assists as a counselor
at Camp Zap, a program for disadvantaged youth sponsored by Woodlake’s
chief of police John Zapalac and held at his Lemon Cove ranch. Karla has
shared her artistic talents when needed, painting the Soapbox Derby ramp
used during Woodlake’s Western Week or creating sets for WHS Theatre
Arts. After graduation, Karla will attend COS.
The poppies are popping
It’s currently an eye-popping sight when navigating
Highway 198 around Lake Kaweah. It’s the year of the California
golden poppies as the moisture and warming weather have combined to create
a blanketing of the state’s official flower on the foothills surrounding
The poppies are the most spectacular wildflower now blooming,
no doubt, but they are sharing the slopes with bush lupine, fiddleneck,
popcornflower, brodiaea, and more, and when combined with the verdant
hillsides and blue sky, provide a spectacular palette of color.
County library needs a logo
The Tulare County Library has agreed to a logo change and
is inviting the public to submit designs. Logo designs may be submitted
from March 1 to April 19.
Entries will be judged during the week of April 20 to 26.
The person submitting the winning entry will receive $500.
All entries must be two-dimensional. There is no size restriction,
but the logo should represent the Tulare County Library’s 15 branches.
The contest is open to all Tulare County residents except
for library employees and their family members.
Mail or bring entries to the Tulare County Library, c/o Carrie Beeby,
200 W. Oak Ave., Visalia, CA 93291.
1969 ~ 2008
Maureen F. Parker lost her battle with cancer on Sunday,
Feb. 24, 2008. She died at her Three Rivers home with her family by her
side. The mother of three was 38.
A graveside service will be held tomorrow (Saturday, March
1) at 11 a.m. at the Three Rivers Cemetery.
Maureen was born Aug. 27, 1969, in Hollywood to James and
Ruth Ann Feeley. She was raised and educated in Southern California.
On Oct. 18, 1991, Maureen married Dan Parker in Las Vegas.
They have resided in Three Rivers since August 2002. Maureen was a local
In addition to her husband of 16 years, Dan, Maureen is survived
by their children, Jacob, 15, Shelby, 7, and Mitchell, 5; and her sister,
Inger Scholkops of Connecticut.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Parker children’s
educational fund at the Bank of the Sierra in Three Rivers.
Condolences may be made online at: