In the News -
Friday, march 3, 2006
When nobody is home in Three Rivers, an outlying property
can appear especially inviting to a thief. Last week, that evidently was
the case at the remote Elliott Ranch, five miles up North Fork Drive.
Kyle Loveall, the longtime caretaker of the cattle ranch,
told sheriff’s deputies that sometime during the early evening of
Thursday, Feb. 23, a thief or thieves entered the residence and removed
a jewelry box. The box contained earrings, rings, necklaces, and other
miscellaneous items with an estimated value of more than $3,000.
It was not the first time that deputies have been called
to respond to a crime at the Elliott Ranch. On July 3, 2005, thieves stole
a 2002 Mustang parked at the ranch that belonged to the Lovealls.
Thanks to the quick-thinking of some North Fork neighbors
who witnessed the theft, two suspects were apprehended during that incident
at the North Fork Bridge and the Mustang was later recovered at the Three
Rivers Golf Course.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department is currently
investigating the most recent heist of the jewelry. Anyone with information
in this case or about any criminal activity should call the Sheriff’s
Department dispatcher, 733-6211.
Down to the wire
A large oak tree was snapped off near the Mineral King Road
turnoff on Highway 198 during high winds on Tuesday morning, Feb. 28.
Powerlines were stressed out, and at least one pole farther up the line
was broken at its base.
frontal system brought high winds but a lot less than the predicted totals
for rain and snow. The cooler air mass means that the conditions are in
place for the storm track to take another shot at Central California with
the best chance for significant rain and snow coming on Monday.
Sequoia lawman retires
Bob Wilson, a sinewy 56-year-old law enforcement specialist
at Sequoia National Park, hardly looks the part of a retiree. But as of
today (Friday, March 3), his mandatory retirement (for law enforcement
officers it’s age 57) will be official after working nearly 33 years
in government service; 29 of those wearing many National Park Service
All that’s left for Ranger Bob to do is to show up
Saturday evening at his retirement fete being held at the Orange Blossom
Restaurant at Merryman Station. There his NPS colleagues and friends will
tout a career that has been witness to many institutional changes and
spanned the continental U.S. from Crater Lake, Ore., to the Everglades
in south Florida.
Along the way, there were many stops and milestones for a
ranger with what his Sequoia Park chief ranger J. D. Swed calls the “full
complement” of ranger skills. Bob Wilson arrived at Sequoia National
Park in 1997 already experienced in fire protection, both the structural
and wildland types; having worked technical rock rescues and as a boat
ranger; an expert Nordic and alpine skier; with many search-and-rescues;
and as a park medic having saved numerous lives.
That’s quite a resumé for a kid raised in Sandusky,
Ohio, who started his career in the late-1960s by serving a tour of duty
as a demolitions expert with the Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War.
I got out of the Navy in 1972 for the next year I traveled around the
country and realized that I liked my time spent in the national parks
best of all,” Bob said. “I guess that’s when I decided
that I might like to work for the Park Service.”
In 1972, he also met his wife-to-be Sharon in San Diego.
The couple married in La Mesa in 1974.
Next, they landed at the University of California at Davis.
wanted to do something related to the national parks so that became environmental
planning and management,” Bob said. “My wife may have preferred
a smaller school but we both got degrees at UC Davis.”
Bob said his extracurricular time was spent in the Rugby
Club playing some of the best teams in the country. He received his degree
in 1976; Sharon graduated in 1978.
In 1976, Bob worked his first NPS season as an entrance station
ranger and within a few months was transferred to the backcountry.
Crater Lake, I was part of the management team on the first prescribed
natural fires that were allowed to burn in that park,” Bob said.
“I think I wrote a total of three tickets in three seasons at Crater
Bob said he remembers the days when, in most parks, rangers
were not permitted to wear their firearms in plain sight during daytime
had a very different image in those days,” he said.
After the 1976 Congressional authority bill, the wearing
of firearms became less discreet systemwide. In 1984, specific training
and equipment regulations accelerated the evolution to the more familiar
park ranger of the modern era.
From Crater Lake, Bob moved on to Everglades National Park
where he received his first law-enforcement commission.
the early 1980s, I didn’t see much future for promotion in fire,
so I moved more toward law enforcement,” Bob said.
Ironically, Bob recalled, that’s when fire management
became really “huge.” But, in retrospect, he has no regrets
having worked for the past two decades in law enforcement.
guess what I enjoyed the most about my NPS career was the ability to move
to different parts of the country,” Bob said.
Along with his wife, who has worked as an interpretive ranger
at most of the same parks where Bob has worked — Everglades, Shenandoah,
and Delaware Water Gap — the couple home-birthed and home-schooled
four sons. The oldest three of the four sons, ages 18 to 26, have already
worked seasonally at Sequoia.
Bob was instrumental in getting a handle on the marijuana
problem at Sequoia National Park that came to his attention in 1999 and,
by 2002, had really exploded. On Jan. 19, with three of his Sequoia colleagues,
Bob was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C.
succeeded in forcing some of the growers out of the parks but the Park
Service will need to remain vigilant to stay on top of the situation,”
As for his looming retirement, Bob says he plans to visit
his dad in Ohio, then hike the 211-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite
to Sequoia. The Wilsons will then sell their home in the Exeter area and
relocate to Bend, Ore.
like it up in Oregon and think we can find plenty of things to do there
to keep us busy,” said Bob.
Sierra Nevada Conservancy
Environment, economy are
of new state agency
When county Supervisor Allen Ishida returned from last Thursday’s
board meeting of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in Sacramento, he could
hardly wait to announce some very exciting news.
is a source of potential grants to improve the economic status of Sierra
Nevada communities like Three Rivers and Springville, and there is $27
million in funding available in the current cycle,” said Ishida.
“This is an immediate opportunity for a project like a community
visitor center that could also function as a Three Rivers stop on the
new shuttle planned from Visalia to Sequoia National Park.”
Supervisor Ishida is one of 16 board members of the new conservancy
that was established in September 2004 by legislation signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.
Ishida will represent a four-county southern area for 2006-2007 that in
addition to Tulare County also includes Kern, Madera, and Fresno counties.
perfect balance has been struck with the establishment of the Sierra Nevada
Conservancy between resource conservation and economic benefit,”
said Mike Chrisman, Conservancy chairman and Secretary for Resources.
“People living within the borders of the Sierra Nevada will be able
to protect the environment in which they live while influencing the prosperous
future of their communities. The tremendous gain for those within the
region and beyond is immeasurable.”
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which is administered by the
state Resources Agency, has established a funding source for community
improvements and economic sustainability across 25 million acres from
the Oregon border to Kern County. As California’s largest state
conservancy, the agency will provide grants to local governments, tribal
organizations, and non-profits for the development of recreational amenities,
economic growth, resource conservation, and environmental protection.
The conservancy recently named Jim Branham as its executive
officer. Last night, Branham was in Lake Isabella to conduct a conservancy
workshop. The purpose of that meeting was to explain criteria for grant
projects and what the conservancy can and cannot do.
An upcoming workshop is being planned for Visalia in the
near future, Ishida said. A sense of urgency is critical for Tulare County
to secure some funding in the 2006-07 cycle.
The conservancy will begin to receive and review grant proposals
we are looking for is a grassroots idea that comes from the Three Rivers
community,” Ishida said. “The county could partner with local
players like the CSD or a chamber of commerce and we parlay a cost-sharing
formula into a grant proposal.”
The timing to present a local project couldn’t be better.
On Monday, Mike Chrisman, who has deep roots in Tulare County, will keynote
the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s Land Use Forum in Visalia.
Chrisman, a Tulare County rancher and former regional manager
for Southern California Edison, is well aware of the needs of Tulare County
and Three Rivers. The newly organized conservancy will review and make
project recommendations, but it is Secretary Chrisman who has the final
say on who gets the awards.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is comprised of 22 counties,
20 incorporated cities, and 212 communities. The foothills community of
Auburn was selected last month as the home for the new agency’s
For more information about the Sierra Nevada Conservancy,
Chamber of Commerce
in Three Rivers
After a hiatus of more than 30 years, a local chamber of
commerce has been formed that will represent the business interests of
Three Rivers. The new Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce will replace
the Three Rivers-Lemon Cove Business Association and provide a broader
scope for Kaweah Country businesses and the residents and visitors to
whom they cater, as well as provide a credible voice on behalf of the
region in governmental issues and with other organizations and the public.
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce has been established
to represent the gateway communities of Three Rivers and Lemon Cove, Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks, and other interested communities nearby.
The new chamber was created through a grant from the Bank of the Sierra
with support from the Three Rivers-Lemon Cove Business Association and
the Three Rivers Village Foundation.
Current memberships in the Business Association, which expire
in June, will be automatically rolled over to a Chamber membership. The
next notice of dues will reflect the new organization, and businesses
that renew will do so with the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce.
Membership is open to all businesses, organizations, associates,
individuals, and families. Dues are currently the sole fundraising vehicle
of the Chamber and will be used to forward marketing efforts that promote
Current projects include:
a Chamber office in Three Rivers with visitor information available.
at travel shows, including, but not limited to, the Los Angeles Travel
Show 2007, the largest of its kind on the West Coast and attracts thousands
of travel agents and the general vacation-planning public.
distribution of a soon-to-be-published tourism brochure.
The “tourism brochure” will be produced with
financial support provided by the County of Tulare, thanks to the efforts
of District One supervisor Allen Ishida, and local business members. It
is planned that 25,000 copies be printed and distributed to the four California
Welcome Centers, airports throughout the state, through mailings to potential
Kaweah Country visitors, and at the new Visalia Chamber of Commerce’s
The newly formed Chamber will be marketed worldwide via the
www.threerivers.com website, which is scheduled to be redesigned. The
ultimate goal of all Chamber marketing efforts is to lure visitors to
Three Rivers and Lemon Cove or to convince those who are planning a trip
to the local national parks to stop in these gateway communities.
Currently, a Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce membership
is available for businesses, organizations, individuals, families, and
associates (out-of-area interests). Annual dues start at $25, and there
will be a sliding fee structure for a business membership based on the
number of employees.
Donations are also being accepted for next year’s L.A.
travel show — for $20, a business’s brochure will be distributed;
$75 includes a banner. A large booth will be shared with Sequoia-Kings
Canyon representatives and the Visalia Chamber of Commerce.
For membership or other information, contact Mark Tilchen,
Eagle Booster Club
Each year since 1951, a local resident who demonstrates extraordinary
qualities and commitment toward Three Rivers School and its students has
been honored by the community. The tradition began with the Three Rivers
PTA and, since last year, has been continued by the school’s Eagle
Throughout the past half-century or so, nearly 70 Three Rivers
residents, as well as the local Lions Club, have been honored. Formerly
called the Honorary Service Award, today the recognition is known as the
Volunteer of the Year award.
The name has changed, but the honor is still the same: Recognizing
outstanding community service toward the betterment of the lives of children
in Three Rivers.
This year, the EBC has selected Dyann Graber to be the recipient
of the award.
so many ways, Dyann is exceptional,” said Melanie Keeley, who is
assisting in the organization of the awards ceremony and the preceding
dinner. “Her involvement in this community and especially at the
school is outstanding. She is a person who dives into projects and accomplishes
Dyann was instrumental in the founding of the Eagle Booster
Club, the parent-support and fundraising group that took the place of
the PTA. She was on the founding board, serving as the group’s charter
Dyann also worked to revise the school’s quarterly
awards ceremony. The assembly continues to recognize the academic achievement
and outstanding citizenship of students, but also now includes a pep rally
that consists of a visit by the school’s Eagle mascot, games, prizes,
and inspirational messages.
Also, when the TRUS arts program was threatened, Dyann, an
artist who put her craft on hold to raise a family, invited local artisans
to visit the campus and share their talents. As a result, the Visiting
Artists program was founded, an all-volunteer creative arts program that
hosts local artists on a rotating basis who teach creative technique,
art history and appreciation, and have also provided campus improvements
via murals and more.
Dyann can also be found on the school’s athletic fields,
coaching various sports. This year, Dyann assisted first-year coach Manuel
Garcia in training the soccer team.
the teachers and administrators at Three Rivers Union School, Dyann magically
seems to appear and contribute when she is needed the most,” said
Melanie. “Those actions are most valued and appreciated by the staff.”
Dyann has lived in Three Rivers since 1990. She and her husband,
Sid, have two sons, Cyrus, a TRUS seventh-grader, and Ezra, a TRUS fifth-grader.
The Volunteer of the Year award will be presented at a ceremony
on Thursday, March 9, beginning at 6:30 p.m., in the McDowall Auditorium
at Three Rivers School. Entertainment and exhibits will be provided by
The event, as always, is free and open to the public.
Get the chopsticks ready
‘Flavors of the Orient’
When the craving hits for Chinese food on a wintry night
in Three Rivers, most of the time residents would be traveling more than
15 miles for their takeout. But in this, the Year of the Dog, folks are
in luck because the Chinese food is coming to us.
Preceding the Volunteer Recognition Night award ceremony,
Three Rivers School seventh-grade parents and students will prepare and
serve a dinner highlighting “Flavors of the Orient.” Entrees
will include exotic lemon chicken and tasty teriyaki beef with an array
of fresh stir-fried vegetables.
To complement the meal, there will be a tea-tasting, with
the opportunity to try some unusual and distinctive blends.
In addition to the dinner festivities, there will be a silent auction.
Unique items have been specially selected and generously donated by Sequoia
Gifts and Souvenirs, Three Rivers Garden Arts Gallery, and Chump’s
Videos and DVDs.
The feast will be served from 5 to 6:15 p.m. on Thursday,
March 9. Tickets are available for $8 and may be purchased at the TRUS
office, from any seventh-grade student, or at the door.
Proceeds from the dinner and silent auction benefit the Class
of 2007’s eighth-grade trip fund. For information, call 561-4466.
The Sequoia Field Institute, a department of the Sequoia
Natural History Association (SNHA), is once again offering the public
an unparalleled chance to experience Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks in the capable hands of some expert instructors.
Seminar outings will include a variety of natural history
treks, birding and wildflower walks, history and geology courses, art
and photography workshops, skiing and snowshoeing, wilderness expeditions,
and the popular Wild Cave Tours.
Courses will be led by Three Rivers residents and outdoor
adventurers Paul Bischoff, Petit Pinson, and Stephanie Strickland. Park
Service professionals who will participate include ecologists Sylvia Haultain
and Nate Stephenson; Alysia Wilson, ranger; and retired naturalist Jim
Other 2006 seminar instructors are Richard Flores, an art
teacher at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia; Tom Gamache, renowned
landscape photographer; John Lockhart, former SNHA education director;
Nancy Muleady-Mecham, a Northern Arizona University adjunct professor
of biology; and Steve Stocking, a biology and botany author and instructor
at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.
To order a catalog that has course descriptions, requirements,
and fees; instructor biographies, and a calendar , visit:
www.sequoiahistory.org or call SNHA’s Sequoia Field Institute at
Parks seek input
Big Stump project
In preparation of the construction of a new entrance station
in Kings Canyon National Park on Highway 180, the National Park Service
is gathering public input on the project.
The former entrance station and other facilities were closed
when an adjacent giant sequoia was deemed to be a safety hazard.
The Park Service plans to develop formal alternatives for
this project and prepare an environmental assessment for public review.
Questions and/or comments may be submitted in writing through April 1
to: Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, 47050 Generals
Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271; or emailed to: SEKI_Superintendent@nps.gov.
Reference “Big Stump Entrance Station” in all correspondence.
Teens injured at
Two 13-year-old girls from Sanger were injured Sunday, Feb.
26, while sledding at the Wolverton Winter Recreation Area in Sequoia
At about 11 a.m., the girls were both knocked unconscious.
They regained consciousness prior to the arrival of emergency vehicles.
One of the girls was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Central California
in Madera. The other was taken by ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in
As of Wednesday, March 1, Sequoia Park officials had not
received an update on the condition of the two injured girls. Alex Picavet,
parks spokesperson, said that from information that was gathered from
witnesses at Wolverton, it could not be determined if the girls were on
the same sled or had collided with each other.
When daytime temperatures reach melting points, as they often
do this time of year, refreezing of packed, icy snow in the afternoon
or at night can make sledding or skiing treacherous. Most snow-players
are inexperienced and don’t wear safety headgear.
Ski lift operators at California resorts say skiers can also
face changing conditions this time of year and need to exercise caution.
Skiers can catch a tip or an edge when resort crews have not had a chance
to re-groom ski runs or in areas just out of bounds that are inviting
especially to snowboarders.
A pile of debris was all that remained of a Prowler house-trailer
that broke apart after careening into a ditch across from the Slick Rock
Recreation Area on Highway 198. The Saturday, Feb. 25, accident was attributed
to excessive speed. The driver was not cited in the solo accident because
he was diligent about cleaning up in the aftermath.
Memorial redbud grove
at fire station
During a weekend last month, the family of the late Glenn
R. Howell gathered at the new native plant garden at the Three Rivers
Fire Station to plant 25 redbud trees around the property. In addition,
the family donated funds for 75 new plants to be used in the second phase
of the ongoing Redbud Garden Club project.
Glenn Howell died in 1994 at his Three Rivers home in spite
of heroic efforts by local firefighters, the first responders, to revive
him. That experience deeply impressed Glenn’s young son Nathan that
he vowed to become a firefighter himself.
Today, Nathan is a firefighter working in coastal California.
The actions of the firefighters and their kind treatment
of the family throughout that emergency-medical situation prompted the
Howells’ decision to honor their loved one and the firefighters
by enhancing the Three Rivers Fire Station through contributions to the
Two of Glenn’s sons, twins Sean and Casey Howell, currently
reside in Three Rivers. They were in kindergarten when their father passed
away; today they are high school seniors.
Glenn’s parents were Three Rivers residents until recently.
Members of the Redbud Garden Club, in conjunction with horticulturist
Melanie Keeley; Stephen Green, CDF captain stationed at the Three Rivers
Fire Station; and Tom Sparks, Three Rivers Village Foundation representative,
were also in attendance during a brief dedication ceremony followed by
a tour of the fire station’s gardens.
1923 ~ 2006
Mary will be missed by her family
and all those
to have known her.
Mary Nunnelee, 82, a resident of Three Rivers for nearly
60 years, died Monday, Feb. 20, 2006. She was surrounded by her children
Mary, who recently was diagnosed with cancer, also has been
battling Alzheimer’s disease for the past three years. She and her
husband, Grady, had relocated from their Three Rivers home just six months
ago to reside with their youngest daughter in Springville.
Mary was born October 10, 1923, in Oklahoma, one of seven
children born to Joseph and Nanny Johnson. On Nov. 9, 1945, she married
Grady Nunnelee in Oklahoma.
The family moved to Three Rivers in July 1947, shortly after
the birth of their first son, James “Jim” Earl Nunnelee. The
couple raised their six children here.
Mary’s lifetime goal was to be a good wife and mother
and considered her greatest accomplishment to be having and raising her
children. Her love of children carried over to the community when, after
raising her own kids, she opened a daycare facility in her home and, in
doing so, another generation of children lovingly knew her as “Grandma.”
Mary had a deep, abiding love and faith in God that she also
generously shared with the community’s children. In the early years
of the Community Presbyterian Church, Mary served as a Sunday school teacher.
She was also a talented seamstress, an excellent cook, and
Mary was preceded in death by her oldest son, Jim (October
1946-April 2003); one grandson; one granddaughter; and four of her siblings.
In addition to her husband of more than 60 years, Grady;
Mary is survived by her daughter-in-law, Sandra Nunnelee (Jim’s
wife), of Three Rivers; five children — daughter Carol McKellar
of Lindsay, son Jerry Nunnelee and wife Paula of Three Rivers, son Larry
Nunnelee and wife Rebecca of Springville, daughter Cathy Hamilton and
husband Robert of Springville, and son Troy Nunnelee of Three Rivers and
his fiancée, Cynthia Diaz, of Lemoore — and 20 grandchildren;
24 great-grandchildren; sister Faye Spear; brother Daniel Johnson; and
dozens of nieces and nephews.
Services were held on Sunday, Feb. 26, and Monday, Feb. 27.
A private burial will be held.
Tributes of Mary may be posted at www.mem.com (enter “Nunnelee”
in the search section at the top right of the page). Also visit this site
to view tributes and photos of Mary and her family throughout her life.
Remembrances in Mary Nunnelee’s name will be accepted
at any Bank of the Sierra branch.
1933 ~ 2006
Helen J. Campbell, a lifetime resident of Woodlake, died
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006, from a head trauma. She was 73.
Helen was born Jan. 30, 1933, in Tulare to Sherman and Edith Peck. She
graduated from Woodlake High School with the Class of 1949.
Helen was a longtime bookkeeper and executive secretary for
Andy Bronzan, formerly of Three Rivers.
She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Clyde Campbell
of Woodlake; three daughters; eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren;
her brother; two sisters; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.