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In the News - Friday, March 8, 2013

 

 

ONLY IN THE MARCH 8 PRINT EDITION:

Woodlake High School - Winter Sports Teams

 

TOWN MEETING:

Updates on public safety

and community projects

 

Update No. 1: Sequestration at Sequoia

  According to Jonathan Jarvis, National Park Service director, in a national news interview last week, all parks in the system will be required to cut five percent from their budgets as a result of the federal sequestration cuts that were enacted by Congress at midnight on March 1. Basically, this means the federally funded parks must make 12 months of cuts in the last six months of the fiscal-year budget.
   Jarvis explained that off the top this will affect 3,000 jobs throughout the National Park System and occurs just as the parks need to prepare for the busy summer season. Instead, there is now a hiring freeze on permanent employees; seasonal employment will be delayed or severely reduced, depending on how and if the sequester is resolved.
   Dana Dierkes, spokesperson for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, reported at the Monday, March 4, town meeting that the budget cuts would affect nearly every aspect of the local parks’ operations and management.
  “It will mean reduced visitor hours, less ranger-led programs, and entire areas in the parks will be opened later than in the past,” Dana said. “Wildlife management programs will be cut and there will be less bear technicians.”
   System-wide, all employee travel and conferences have been cancelled. Overall, services will be reduced or eliminated, facilities closed, and events cancelled.
   Locally, the cuts are expected to affect some fire protection and visitor-safety services. And traditional springtime openings of areas will be delayed, such as the Cedar Grove area in Kings Canyon National Park.

Update No. 2: Memorial Building upgrades facility

  Also at the Monday, March 4, Three Rivers Town Hall meeting, Nancy Brunson, district manager for the Three Rivers Memorial District, gave a presentation on several recently completed and in-process improvements to the building and grounds. Among the improvements are the removal of the old phone booth in the lobby, newly painted roll-up doors, replacement of the old accordion doors, new lighting for the refurbished display cases, and new entryway carpet and seating.
   The building, Nancy said, now has updated audiovisual capabilities and also high-speed Internet service. In addition to building upgrades, the bus stop has been made more user-friendly.
   Still to come are some kitchen improvements and a website that will streamline event bookings.
   Each of the five district board members were introduced: Richard Fletcher, president; Marge Ewen, secretary; Maureen Basham; Jane Dempsey; and Robert Hohne.

Additional updates and presentations

  Allen Ishida, district supervisor, introduced Bruce Webber, chief engineer of Tulare County Public Works. Webber said he has been working on the design of left-turn lanes in front of the Village Market shopping center. He said the project is stalled trying to get the go-ahead from Caltrans, lead agency for any project related to Highway 198.
   Other presentations included updates from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department regarding local break-ins, the Eagle Booster Club made a call for volunteers, and Peter Sodhy, president of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, mentioned the recent Heroes Months activities and projects including February’s square dancing programs.
   The next town meeting is scheduled for April 1.

Three Rivers experiences spike in burglaries

  Recent burglaries on both South Fork and North Fork had some similarities but may be the work of separate burglars. That was the word this week from two Sheriff’s Department investigators who are working several Three Rivers cases.
  “Adding to the problem in these cases is the fact that the burglaries are not always discovered until some time later and then more time goes by until they are reported,” said Jim Fansett, Three Rivers resident deputy.
   In addition to the Village Market burglaries that were reported last month and remain unsolved, two more break-ins were reported on February 28: one in the Sequoia Oaks section off South Fork Drive, and a separate burglary at the Apple House just over a mile up North Fork Drive from Sierra Drive.
   Deborah Condon reported that her remote South Fork house and barn were literally “cleaned out” sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday morning (Feb. 27-28). The thieves stole a 1992 Ford F-150 pickup, horse trailer, motorcycles, firearms, saddles, heirloom jewelry, and a freezer stocked with 280 pounds of beef. The property owner estimates the loss at $70,000.
   Condon, who was not home at the time of the burglary, stated that a reward is being offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
   In the North Fork incident, a motorcycle and firearms were stolen from the Apple House. John Rose, the owner of some of the missing property, lives in Nevada.
   Caretakers of the property noticed evidence of forcible entry and called the owners who reported the thefts to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. It is unknown when the break-in actually occurred; losses were reported to be $770.
   In the past month, break-ins have also been reported at Lions Arena and from outbuildings at a ranch on Old Three Rivers Drive. Concerned residents are advised to be vigilant, install locked gates at driveway entrances, and lock all doors and windows. If you install a locked gate be sure to notify the local fire stations.
   A common denominator in at least three residential burglaries in Three Rivers over the past month has been the theft of firearms.
   In a Badger home invasion that occurred Tuesday, Feb. 26, one resident was shot. After a high-speed chase, three suspects were arrested by Tulare County Sheriff’s officers.
   Detectives are trying to trace weapons recovered in that incident to see if any of the guns might have been stolen in burglaries.
   Anyone with information in any of these cases is urged to email tcso@tipnow.com or call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department dispatch at 733-6211.

Bus service doubles in Three Rivers

By Holly Gallo

  Recent burglaries on both South Fork and North Fork had some similarities but may be the work of separate burglars. That was the word this week from two Sheriff’s Department investigators who are working several Three Rivers cases.
  “Adding to the problem in these cases is the fact that the burglaries are not always discovered until some time later and then more time goes by until they are reported,” said Jim Fansett, Three Rivers resident deputy.
   In addition to the Village Market burglaries that were reported last month and remain unsolved, two more break-ins were reported on February 28: one in the Sequoia Oaks section off South Fork Drive, and a separate burglary at the Apple House just over a mile up North Fork Drive from Sierra Drive.
   Deborah Condon reported that her remote South Fork house and barn were literally “cleaned out” sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday morning (Feb. 27-28). The thieves stole a 1992 Ford F-150 pickup, horse trailer, motorcycles, firearms, saddles, heirloom jewelry, and a freezer stocked with 280 pounds of beef. The property owner estimates the loss at $70,000.
   Condon, who was not home at the time of the burglary, stated that a reward is being offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
   In the North Fork incident, a motorcycle and firearms were stolen from the Apple House. John Rose, the owner of some of the missing property, lives in Nevada.
   Caretakers of the property noticed evidence of forcible entry and called the owners who reported the thefts to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. It is unknown when the break-in actually occurred; losses were reported to be $770.
   In the past month, break-ins have also been reported at Lions Arena and from outbuildings at a ranch on Old Three Rivers Drive. Concerned residents are advised to be vigilant, install locked gates at driveway entrances, and lock all doors and windows. If you install a locked gate be sure to notify the local fire stations.
   A common denominator in at least three residential burglaries in Three Rivers over the past month has been the theft of firearms.
   In a Badger home invasion that occurred Tuesday, Feb. 26, one resident was shot. After a high-speed chase, three suspects were arrested by Tulare County Sheriff’s officers.
   Detectives are trying to trace weapons recovered in that incident to see if any of the guns might have been stolen in burglaries.
   Anyone with information in any of these cases is urged to email tcso@tipnow.com or call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department dispatch at 733-6211.

Intern killed by lion at Cat Haven

  Dianna Hanson, 24, an intern at Cat Haven in Dunlap — a mountain community in Fresno County just west of the Highway 180 entrance to Kings Canyon National Park — was mauled to death by a five-year-old, 350-pound male lion named Cous Cous. The attack occurred on Wednesday morning, March 6.
   The facility was closed at the time with one other worker reportedly on site at the time of the fatal accident. The lion was shot and killed by a Fresno County Sheriff’s Department officer in an attempt to retrieve the victim from the lion’s enclosure.
   It was unknown why Hanson entered the lion’s cage or what provoked the fatal attack. Cat Haven, which opened in 1998 and has been incident-free until this week, is operated by Project Survival. The 100-acre ranch property is located near Highway 180.
   Cat Haven is home to dozens of endangered cats of several species. Cous Cous has lived at the sanctuary since he was a few months old.
   Hanson, who was from Seattle, had been an intern at Cat Haven since January. Her Facebook page depicts numerous photos with the animals she loved (see photo left).

Winter sports review

Woodlake High emphasizing
The ‘student’ in student-athletes

  Even if a team wins consecutive Valley championships (like WHS boys’ soccer in 2011 and 2012) that doesn’t mean a threepeat is a given or the program doesn’t need some improvements. At Woodlake High, making improvements and getting better means that academic performance must come first, and the emphasis for the more than 100 student-athletes is where it should be: on the student.
   School sports are important but they are in second place at WHS where all that extra tutoring work is starting to pay dividends. Two out of five of Woodlake’s varsity teams in winter sports — wrestling and girls’ basketball — were named to the CIF’s prestigious winner’s circle of outstanding scholar teams. To qualify for this honor, all team members must be scoring academically at a 3.0 grade point average or higher.
  “Athletics can be extremely beneficial to a young person’s life, but I think we have our priorities backwards,” said Dr. Gary Malone, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Texas Southwestern University. “Imagine how much better off our country would be if, instead of football, we were obsessed with our children’s performance in math or science.”
   At Woodlake High School, according to principal Lisa Castillo, the prioritizing for the student in student-athlete is not quite an obsession but if the resources were available it would be.
  “In January 2012, we looked closely at grades of the student-athletes who had played sports in the fall of 2011,” Castillo said. “What we found was that over 50 percent had one or more F grades with GPAs below 2.0.”
   Castillo said what her staff realized is that where the school eligibility policy dropped the ball was that grades were checked every nine weeks. By that time it was too late to help those who needed help the most.
   As a result, athletes became ineligible for playoffs when it penalized the team the most, or they were simply ineligible for the entire ensuing season’s sports. At a small school like Woodlake, any players who can’t play can take the heart and soul right out of a team chances for success.
   The solution: raise expectations and raise performance. Castillo said during the spring season, Woodlake adopted a pilot program in which each player was monitored weekly.
   If a student failed a test or missed an assignment they could attend subject-specific tutorials and have an opportunity to make up a grade. At the end of the spring season, the proof was in the product: 97 percent of all athletes had a 2.0 GPA or better.
   The program worked so well, according to Castillo, now the pilot program has been extended to all students. So what started as a tutoring program to help student-athletes is helping raise every student’s expectations and transforming Woodlake High to a school where the Four A’s — academics, athletics, activities, and arts — is truly the priority.
   There is no doubt that emphasis on academics will pay dividends but the effects of the new program will take more time to translate into wins on the sports teams. In terms of won-and-loss records, the winter season was mostly a .500 winning percentage, a win for a loss season.

  GIRLS’ BASKETBALL— Coach Kris Schlossin completed his sixth season as head coach and reported that his young team had both ups and downs in a season where the Lady Tigers finished 4-6 in East Sequoia League play. Regina “Reggie” Ramirez, a junior shooting guard, was the team’s all-around best player.
   In the Tulare tournament, Reggie threw in three long buzzer-beaters and scored more than 30 points in consecutive games. Only a gimpy ankle in the last two regular season games, both losses, kept the Lady Tigers from a shot at the Valley playoffs.
   Regina was named to first team all-ESL; Erica Edwards, a senior guard, was named to the second team. The team captain was senior Irene Ortiz.
   Coach Kris said he hopes to start a club team this spring to give the girls more game time.
  “We have six seniors returning next season so we will be much improved,” said Kris. “All these girls need to realize is that they must play basketball year-round if we are going to play for a Valley championship at Selland Arena.”
   Both the Frosh girls and the JV girls finished with .500 overall records for their first-year coaches. Joey Castillo coached the frosh team and Dominique Biello was the JV coach.
   BOYS’ BASKETBALL— Tigers basketball turned in a respectable 8-13 overall record and 4-6 in ESL play. According to first-year coach Louie Perez, the guys will get better as soon as they get more time in the new program.
  “Our guard play was outstanding, and in the first go-round in league we surprised some teams that perhaps were not ready for us,” Coach Perez said. “Those wins were big for us and gave us a taste of success.”
   Outstanding varsity players were Jaykob Rodriguez (junior shooting guard) and Armando Martinez (senior point guard).
  “We’re young and have some talent on the JV and Frosh team that will help be even better next season,” said Coach Perez. “One frosh player, Jacob Varela [Three Rivers] came up for a few games with us and he looks like he will be able to make the varsity as a sophomore.”
   WRESTLING— Tiger grapplers had some outstanding performances under the tutelage of first-year head coach Mike Burchett. In the ESL tournament, senior Nate Mesa took first at 182 pounds; Chase Montes, a freshman, finished second at 152 pounds.
   Only Nate Mesa qualified for the state tourney held March 1-2 in Bakersfield at Rabobank Arena. Nate finished 2-2 in the state tourney, capping an MVP season.
  “The future to our program is our new Tiger wrestling club,” said Coach Burchette. “Any student K-12 interested in joining from Woodlake, Seville, and Three Rivers can still sign up by calling me at 972-4907. Come join the world’s oldest and toughest sport.”
   The number of tournaments that a club wrestler participates in is optional but there are tournaments nearly every Saturday, Burchett said.
   BOYS’/GIRLS’ SOCCER— After winning back-to-back Valley championships in 2011 and 2012 and graduating all but two players, it figured that 2013 would be a rebuilding year.   The varsity boys, coached by Freddie Palomo, finished 6-12-1 overall and 4-6 in ESL play.
   Look for a young varsity team to return with lots of seasoned veterans for a run at another Valley title in 2014.
   Ditto for the varsity girls coached by Sal Guerra. The girls finished 7-11-1 overall and 2-6 in ESL play.

 
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