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In the News -

Friday, March 21, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

The river is dangerous,

near-drowning attests

   Even if you don’t intend to go in the river, in a heartbeat you could be cascading among huge boulders struggling for your life. That’s what happened last week, on Friday, March 14, to an unsuspecting park visitor.
   The victim, a man in his 50s from Alabama, was walking in that dangerous stretch of riverbank below Hospital Rock that has been the site of previous tragedy. The man slipped and was immediately tumbling down two very turgid, ice-cold pools swollen with snowmelt.
   After being swept downstream approximately 75 feet, the victim was able to pull himself out to a rock across the dangerous streambed where he awaited a rescue team that was mobilizing on the other side. A swiftwater rescue team of eight extracted the man from his perch and reunited him with his family.
   The recent near-drowning has park officials concerned about what might prove to be a tragic season. Drowning is the leading cause of death in the nearby parks, and April through June are especially dangerous as daytime temperatures begin to rise.
   On warm days, the river is even more alluring as visitors are drawn to feel its cooling channeling effect and experience its thunderous rapids up close. Even currents in tranquil-looking pools can quickly pull an unsuspecting victim to whitewater that is always just a stone’s throw away in the narrow channels of the Kaweah River drainage.
   Adding further to the river’s attraction is that the visitor often associates the memory of how the river was during a previous visit, but that time or season might have been totally different.
   Each year and season presents different conditions. That is a big part of the river’s attraction. The cool seasonal temperatures in the current season are holding back a monster snowpack relative to this time last year.
   Lodgepole rangers recently reported six feet of snow at the measuring stake while Grant Grove is reporting a depth of four feet. The Generals Highway is open between the parks and furnishes access to visitors that can quickly find themselves in some remote and dangerous situations.
   Park rangers are especially concerned about the potential for river accidents during the next few months. To reinforce patrols in the most dangerous locales, the National Park Service organizes an onsite volunteer program to contact visitors in the hope that a word to the wise might prevent unnecessary tragedy.
   The volunteers, called River Rovers, donate a few hours a week supervised by a park ranger. They are furnished uniforms, backpacks, two-way radios, and equipment necessary to become another set of eyes and ears for patrol rangers. Foremost, they warn visitors about river hazards and encourage visitors to be responsible park users.
   While not assisting directly in a river rescue, the volunteers function as important support personnel. River Rover candidates should be comfortable in the outdoors, have good people skills, and able to walk some uneven terrain in all temperatures. Bilingual Rovers are especially needed and become indispensable when a translator is necessary.
   The Rover program is being supervised by Ash Mountain ranger Tim Barrett. For more information or an application call Tim at 565-4212 or email Tim_Barrett@nps.gov.

National park visitors

increase in 2007

   Nationwide, more than 275 million visits were recorded in national parks in 2007, an increase of three million visitors from the previous year. The annual release of visitor numbers late last month prompted some glowing comments from NPS Director Mary A. Bomar.

  “Despite the rising gas prices and the lure of electronic entertainment, this is great news,” Bomar said. “With all the recreation choices available, national parks still draw more than Major League Baseball, the National Football League, professional basketball, soccer, and NASCAR combined.”
   Bomar credited some of the increase to excitement that is building around the National Park Service Centennial being planned for 2016, and of course, the diversity of the parks’ system that includes 20 different park categories.
   In 2006, President Bush charged the NPS with a new “Centennial Initiative,” Bomar said, “…to make these jewels of America’s crown sparkle for another

   At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, both units experienced sizable increases in visitor numbers. Together, more than 1.5 million visits were recorded for both parks.
   For businesses like Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs in Three Rivers that cater to park visitors, those numbers translate to revenue.

  “For Three Rivers, the increase in visitors means more dollars spent for everything from gas and groceries to lodging and meals,” said Scott Mulliken, owner of Sequoia Gifts and vice president of the local chamber of commerce. “With our strategic location close to the three big metropolitan areas — the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego — we are the closest Sierra experience for millions so I expect these numbers to increase.”

Pot-growing site restored

   One of the most isolated and difficult areas to access in nearby Sequoia National Park is actually, as the crow flies, within five miles of the end of the pavement on North Fork Drive. For pot growers, it was just another suitable grow locale that happened to be near Colony Mill Road in the North Fork drainage.
   Eventually, the complex was discovered and was one of dozens eradicated since 2004 when the local parks, as a part of Operation Weed Free, really stepped up their efforts to drive the Mexican cartels elsewhere. Each season, while law officers brace for the annual influx of a new wave of pot-growing operations, restoration teams target an area to clean up leftovers from past growers who destroy park resources.
   Earlier this month, Sequoia and Kings Canyon law enforcement and natural resource staff completed a weeklong project to clean up and restore a 4.6-acre site near the Colony Mill Road. Park personnel used National Guard helicopters to remove 5,600 pounds of garbage (159 bags) including 75 propane canisters and 5.8 miles of hose.
   The resident camp, a fixture at the grow sites, supported 11 grow sites and was occupied as recently as 2007. Empty containers were removed that were used to transport thousands of pounds of fertilizers, pesticides (predominately malathion) and rodenticides. The damage these chemicals cause to wilderness areas is unfathomable.
   According to a recent release from the NPS, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to fight this growing problem. Since 2001, the NPS has eradicated 306,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $968 million.
   The typical grow sites are not in high-use park areas but tend to be in extremely isolated or rugged terrain. Several hikers have observed the clandestine activity and have been instrumental in the discovery of some of the very largest grow sites.
   Within the abundance of water in the 2008 growing season (April to October), the growers are likely to plant in lower elevations or anywhere that has an extended water source. Anyone with information about an illegal pot operation or would like to report suspicious activity in the parks can remain anonymous by calling 1-800-NPS-CRIME (888-677-2746).

Making Three Rivers School like no other…
Volunteers of the Year

   At a ceremony in their honor on Thursday, March 13, seven Three Rivers artists were honored by Three Rivers School’s Eagle Booster Club for their contributions to the school and its students. Eme Price, EBC president, emceed the event, receiving assistance from Tani Meadows, EBC secretary, and Patty Knapp, EBC treasurer. The artists honored were: Jerry Jonnum, Nancy Jonnum, Dyann Graber, Andy Duncan, Leslie Wilson, Nadi Spencer, and Wendy McKellar.

  “It might have just been a plain, gray wall,” said Eme Price, who acknowledged what students have accomplished under the auspices of professional artists on the campus. “It could have been just a drinking fountain…”
   In fact, artist Nadi Spencer added, the Three Rivers School creations will be on a Tulare County mural map being produced by the Economic Development Corporation. These are the only featured works of art on the mural route created by kids.
   Eme and the EBC also paid poignant tribute to Maureen Parker (1969-February 2008), a mother of three and devoted school volunteer, who recently lost her battle with cancer.


DeWayne Brewer
1934 ~ 2008

   DeWayne C. Brewer passed away in the Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He was 73.
Cremation followed at DeWayne’s request. A memorial service is planned for this summer in Prospect, Ore.
   DeWayne was born May 13, 1934, at home in Three Rivers to Opal and Clell Brewer. He attended Three Rivers Union School and graduated from Woodlake Union High School with the Class of 1952.
   He married in 1956, but later divorced after four children. He never remarried, but remained close to the mother of his children.
   DeWayne was an avid NASCAR fan, hunter, bowler, golfer, and fisherman. He loved all sports, but particularly football, and earned his stripes and letter all four years in high school.
   DeWayne could play any position on the field, but was at his best at quarterback. After high school, he played for the College of the Sequoias in Visalia and at Fresno State. While at Fresno State, he was the first freshman to letter at the college and was scouted by the 49ers football team, but was not drafted.
   In 1959, DeWayne and his family moved to Sylmar, Calif., where he became a journeyman carpenter and worked from 1959 to 1963 as a house framer in the Los Angeles area. In 1963, he and the family moved to Shell Beach to work as a construction foreman, building a bridge on Highway 101.
   Then he moved back home to Three Rivers and worked heavy equipment and construction work building roads. In October 1973, Dwayne and his family moved to Prospect, Ore., where he ran a Caterpillar and worked in the woods hauling logs, clearing brush, and plowing snow to clear logging roads. He also worked temporarily in maintenance for Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.
   From 1973, DeWayne lived in Prospect until ill health forced him to move to his children’s home in Coos Bay, Ore. After a few months, he was moved to Ocean Crest Assisted Living in North Bend, Ore.
   DeWayne was preceded in death by his parents, Opal and Clell Brewer of Three Rivers, sister Olliene Morrow of Woodlake, aunt and uncle Ollie and Leon Craig of Three Rivers, daughter-in-law Jacqueline Brewer of North Bend, nephew Paul Brewer of Visalia, and his grandparents, several uncles, and an aunt.
   DeWayne is survived by his three daughters, Laura Brown and husband Ron of Coquille, Ore.; Cynthia Tirico and husband Richard of John Day, Ore.; and Charyse Johnson of Coquille; and son David Brewer and wife Amanda of North Bend; sister Barbara Ainley and husband Frank of Elderwood; and brothers Leon Brewer and wife Gulsen of Visalia and Donald Brewer and wife Lorinda of Big Timber, Mont.; six grandchildren, Cammie Haney and Trista and Zachary DeRosier of John Day, David Lynch of Baker, Ore., and Edward Brewer of North Bend; and one great-grandchild and numerous nieces and nephews.
DeWayne will be sorely missed by his family who loved him dearly and by too many friends to name. He loved life and people. God bless you and speed you on your way, DeWayne, to a new and peaceful afterlife where there is no pain or unhappiness, only beauty. We will mourn you for a life that ended too soon.
   Donations for the memorial service and cremation expense can be made to: DeWayne Brewer Memorial Fund, Old West Federal Credit Union, 650 W. Main St., John Day, OR 97845.

Alice See
1915 ~ 2008

   Alice Rose See died Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008. She was 92.
   Alice was born May 15, 1915, to Thomas and Bell Walker in Redlands, Okla. On Aug. 16, 1941, she married Cecil J. See in Nevada. The couple raised their six children on the Montgomery Ranch in Lemon Cove, where Cecil worked from 1948 until 1985.
   While her children were in school, Alice was a room mother and a 4-H and Girl Scout leader. She was also a deacon of the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church, active in the church’s women’s association, and the corresponding secretary for the Lemon Cove Woman’s Club for 20 years. Alice was also a quilter, hand-sewing quilts for all her children and their dozens and dozens of offspring.
   After Cecil retired, the couple moved to Three Rivers. In 2001, because of health problems, Alice and Cecil moved to Korbel, Calif., (near Eureka) in Northern California to be closer to their daughters.
   Alice was preceded in death by her husband of nearly 62 years, Cecil (1919-2003); brother Billy Walker; and four grandchildren.
   She is survived by her daughters Willine Marler and husband James of Willow Creek, Calif.; Rose Nielsen and husband Fred of Korbel; sons Phillip See and companion Mary Dechance of Visalia, Robert See and wife Bonnie of Farmersville, Billy See and wife Janice of Exeter, and Silas See and wife Kathy of Reno; 21 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; three sisters-in-law, and many nieces and nephews.
   Interment was Wednesday, Feb. 20, at Blue Lake Cemetery in Arcata.

Pauline Savage
1919 ~ 2008

   Pauline Savage of Exeter died Monday, March 17, 2008. She was 88.
Pauline was born to Texas and Katherine Smith in Texas on Sept. 2, 1919. She lived in Exeter for 70 years.
   She was recently preceded in death by her husband, Alan Savage, Jr. (1929-Jan. 2008), as well as her parents and seven brothers.
   She is survived by her son, Jack Guthery and wife Brenda of Exeter; stepson Alan A. Savage III and wife Laurie of Vacaville; two stepdaughters, Elizabeth K. Hart and husband Bob of Exeter and Pamela A. Savage of Oregon; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
   A graveside service was held yesterday (Thursday, March 20) at the Exeter District Cemetery.
   Condolences to the family may be made by emailing EMChapel@aol.com.



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