this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
Some early morning fishing
on Thursday, March 20, at the Slick Rock
Recreation Area nearly ended in tragedy
for a woman identified as Marcie Montelius.
The woman and a companion were fishing
from the rocky shore where the river channel
is becoming more treacherous each day
as snowmelt increases the river level
and the spring runoff begins to fill the
Lake Kaweah basin.
The woman told her rescuers
that she slipped and fell into the river
channel and was pushed by a strong eddy
into a rock where she found herself trapped
in four feet of water. After the victim
tried unsuccessfully to climb out, her
companion was able to jump several rocks
to perch just above the shivering victim.
The companion extended a
dog leash to the woman to hang on to so
she would not be swept down the river
into deeper water. Tulare County Fire
Department personnel were able to use
ropes to rescue the victim without entering
After pulling the victim
ashore, she was warmed, examined at the
scene, and then transported via ambulance
to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia where
she was treated for hypothermia.
sealed and delivered
Did anyone notice that the town of Three
Rivers recently got larger? Cal Trans
relocated the population sign to 1.4 miles
west of its previous location to more
accurately delineate the county’s
“urban development boundaries.”
The sign on the Sequoia side of town was
also relocated east, closer to the park
New ranger to
In some ways, Dan Pontbriand,
Sequoia National Park’s new district
ranger is an enigma. He took a demotion
to land his new job and, he said, in a
career that’s all about service,
he wouldn’t have it any other way.
In his last job, as the Chief
of Emergency Services in Washington, D.C.,
he supervised the search-and-rescue (SAR)
programs in all the national parks.
Obviously, any individual in that position
must be well versed in all the SAR disciplines,
and Ranger Dan is; he’s an expert
diver, river rafter, climber, skier, hiker,
In 2005, as part of the federal
government’s response in the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina, Pontbriand joined
Sequoia’s Chief Ranger J.D. Swed
in coordinating the cleanup and restoration
of the NPS New Orleans-area units.
The two became fast friends and a seed
Now, just a few years later,
Pontbriand is second in the chain of ranger
command to J.D. Swed at Sequoia.
“I politicked for this position
because I longed to return to the field,”
Pontbriand said. “I really wanted
to work in a large park with the complete
breadth of SAR disciplines.”
One might say when describing
Ranger Dan: You can take the ranger out
of the field, but you can’t take
the field out of the ranger.
“After three years in Washington,
D.C., I started to lose my connection
with the field,” he said.
That connection, Dan said,
was instilled as a boy growing up in Maine.
In those days, he and his identical twin
brother spent most of their time in the
outdoors, and much of that in the company
of their father. Their father, who passed
away not too long ago, taught his sons
the rudimentary skills that the twins
have parlayed into NPS careers.
“Imagine siblings being very close
as family members,” Pontbriand explained.
“With my twin brother, I’m
100 times closer. Now we even do the same
job. He’s the district ranger in
Acadia National Park, and I’m the
district ranger at Sequoia.”
Dan said growing up in Auburn,
Maine, with a population of 25,000, finding
some kind of work in the great outdoors
was all he and his brother ever wanted
Along the way, the twins
worked in the family hardware business
that like so many other small businesses,
eventually succumbed to the Home Depot
and Lowe’s chain store syndrome.
“My dad was the guy in the corner
hardware store who could fix anything
and enjoyed explaining to his customers
how they could do it themselves,”
Dan recalled. “After 79 years, it
was a sad day when the family had to finally
quit the business.”
After graduating from high
school in 1973, Dan enrolled at the University
of Maine, majoring in recreational management
and business administration. In the summers,
he worked as a lifeguard in the state
parks and guided canoe trips.
His first seasonal appointments
with the National Park Service were in
1979 to 1982 at Grand Teton where he worked
as a river patrol ranger. In the off-season,
he worked on ski patrol back home in Maine.
“In Maine, it wasn’t practical
to live there if you didn’t ski
and enjoy the extended winters,”
In the 1980s he became full-time,
working his way up the ranger ranks, first
at Boston National Historical Park and
then at Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Early in his career, he said, he wanted
to experience as many types of the parks
The largest part of his 28
years with the NPS were the 15 years from
1990 to 2005 spent at Olympic National
Park. While an Olympic district ranger,
Dan recovered data from a dive site where
he helped identify a crash victim from
a submerged 1927 Chevrolet that had been
a mystery for nearly eight decades.
That case was similar to
the recovery of Kings Canyon National
Park’s lost World War II airmen
that with positive identification finally
provided the families with some semblance
of closure. Being able to be proficient
and use those SAR skills is what Dan refers
to as the ranger’s greatest challenge.
Dan, who is single, says
Three Rivers already feels like home,
so he’ll spend some spare time house-hunting
for just the right opportunity.
“I really value being a citizen
of the community, so wherever I go I like
to get involved,” Dan said. “To
serve the resource and the people is what
makes a career with the NPS most meaningful
for local parks
There are no places more
special on the planet than the backcountry
of this nation’s national parks.
The wilderness areas of Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks are certainly among
the best of these backcountry treasures,
and to ensure that they stay that way
some new regulations will be implemented
Specific meadows have grazing
restrictions to minimize impacts. Stock
use is generally allowed in all areas,
even those with restrictions, provided
that the stock are held and fed or led
to nearby open areas to graze. Stock users
need to be aware of the new restrictions
in the Kern Canyon to prevent the spread
of the invasive velvet grass.
Ongoing campfire restrictions
are in place to allow for the continued
recovery of park resources. These typically
heavily-used areas have been closed due
to lack of dead and downed wood.
A new voluntary restriction
on campfires above 10,000 feet in the
Kern Canyon will most likely be made mandatory
in 2009. These new restrictions are aimed
at protecting the foxtail pine.
To promote visitor safety
and the preservation of natural bear behavior,
park-approved food storage containers
are required for all overnight campers
(May 23-Oct. 31) in three specific areas:
Rae Lakes Loop area and the Dusy Basin
vicinity in Kings Canyon National Park
and the Rock Creek area of Sequoia National
In 2009, the recommendation
that all wilderness campers carry bear-proof
food storage containers is expected to
become mandatory. For hikers that are
cited under the provision of failure to
comply with permit regulations, the minimum
fine with administrative costs will be
in excess of $150.
The annual limit restrictions
from May 15 to September 30 will remain
in effect for the popular Pear Lake and
Emerald Lake basins. Wilderness permits
for these trails will be administered
by the Lodgepole ranger station and are
available only on a first-come, first-serve
Due to the heavy snowpack
from this past winter that is currently
lingering due to cool weather, many passes
will remain clogged with snow into the
summer and water-crossings will remain
high. At this time, any trails above 6,000
feet are snow-covered.
For more information, contact
the Wilderness Office at 559-565-3766,
or visit: www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/wilderness.htm
As if winning a league title
for the first time in more than two decades
wasn’t enough for the Lady Tigers
basketball team, the recognition just
keeps on coming. Last week, senior Alley
Reeves was named the Tulare County Girls
Basketball “Player of the Year”
by the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance
Reeves finished her career
as Woodlake’s third all-time scorer
but it was her relentless style that really
won over coaches, opposing fans, and sports
writers everywhere the Tigers played.
In a season that will always
be remembered by Tiger fans, Reeves put
up some unreal numbers. Need some scoring?
Alley averaged 19.7 points per game, second
in the Central Section among all divisions.
A LOT of her points came on put-backs
while she was averaging 15.9 rebounds
a game, also second in the section.
But this all-league co-MVP
also played defense, averaging six steals
and forcing numerous turnovers that led
to easy baskets for Alley and her teammates.
She made everyone around her a better
player by also leading her team in assists.
“Alley really matured and has become
a complete player,” said Kris Schlossin,
Woodlake’s first year head coach.
“She realized to help her team win,
she had to be disciplined on both ends
of the court and limit her fouls.”
It was Alley’s energy
and intensity that fueled Woodlake’s
title run. Right from the outset, Coach
Schlossin asked Alley and her teammates
to give 100 percent and then he asked
them to reach down deep for a little more.
“I like to think that my team reflects
my approach to the game,” Coach
Schlossin said. “The way I coach
is the same style that I learned to play,
first in National Junior Basketball (NJB)
and then as a high school player in Southern
Coach Schlossin, 31, was
also named Tulare County’s Girls
Basketball “Coach of the Year”
by the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance
Register. He said he hopes his first season
at Woodlake is a start of rebuilding a
program that will bring back the glory
days of 1985 when the Lady Tigers won
a state championship.
Both coach and player have
roots in Three Rivers. Coach Schlossin’s
parents own and operate the Sequoia Motel
in Three Rivers.
Alley is a Three Rivers School
alum whose mother, Michelle, resides in
Three Rivers. Alley hopes to be playing
next year for a college team.
Woodlake High seeks veterans
Woodlake High students and
advisors are currently planning the school’s
fourth annual Veterans Honor Day. The
purpose of the event is twofold: (1) To
educate the students about the sacrifice
of those who have served in this country’s
military; and (2) To personally honor
This year’s WHS Veterans
Honor Day is scheduled for Friday, May
2. Any veteran from World War II, Korea,
Vietnam, the Gulf War, or the Iraq War
is invited to attend.
The exhibition will begin
at 9:30 a.m. and continue until noon.
Lunch will immediately follow.
Tables will be set up so
that veterans may create a display of
their mementos, including photos, maps,
uniforms, insignias, dog tags, medals,
correspondence, and more. The students
will tour the displays and talk with veterans.
All veterans and their guests
are invited. To receive more information
or to register to attend, call Scott Hernandez,
advisor, 564-3307, ext. 193.
Make ‘em and take ‘em
easy to make…
Living green or just being
committed to a healthy lifestyle is a
work in progress. One can never learn
So who knew? The paraffin
candles that are so prevalent in homes
and on retailers’ shelves are made
from a byproduct of petroleum, not exactly
clean-burning nor a renewable resource.
Mostly likely you’ve
noticed one or more of the following when
burning a candle: The black residue. The
strong odor emitted after blowing it out.
Or how hard it is to remove candle wax
from a surface or tablecloth.
In fact, according to the
American Lung Association, paraffin candles
are one of the worst sources of indoor
air pollution, even when not burning!
This is all due to the oil sludge —
literally, the bottom of the barrel —
from which paraffin is derived.
Candles are a $6 billion
annual industry; 98 percent of which are
paraffin candle sales. But Nikki Crain
of Three Rivers and the Nu Soy company
are on a mission to educate the public
about the many benefits of soy candles.
Perhaps the most positive aspect of soy
candles is that you can make them yourself.
It’s fun, easy, and nontoxic.
And if you discover that
making soy candles is an enjoyable pastime,
then perhaps you should consider burning
the candle at both ends by selling your
creations while also ensuring that you
become an important part of the movement
that is working to change the world’s
most popular candles from paraffin to
Why? Because Nu Soy candle
wax is all-natural and created from a
renewable resource: soybeans. The wax
burns clean and at a lower temperature
— which means reduced risk of burns
and accidental fires — and wipes
up with soap and warm water.
The main difference in the
look of a soy candle compared to a paraffin
one is that due to the softer wax, soy
candles are not freestanding; the wax
is poured into tealights or decorative
containers of any size and shape.
THE RECIPE— Melt wax
in a pot inside a water pot (double boiler),
add color and fragrance. Ready a container,
select the correct size of wick and center
it in the container using a wick sticker
and wick clip, pour in the wax, cool briefly,
and decorate with ribbons, dried flowers,
beads, stickers, or any other type of
That’s it. The soy
candle is complete and ready to light
and decorate your home while saving the
world from the evils of paraffin.
To register for the upcoming
soy candle class in Three Rivers on Sunday,
April 6, or for information about how
to earn income by selling your soy candles,
call Nikki Crain, 561-4048.
Sew much ‘Comfort
In 1997, when Jack and Joyce
Nielsen of Three Rivers started their
quilt-making project for terminally-ill
children — today known as Comfort
for Kids — they had no idea that
the group would average more than 1,000
finished comforters each season for more
than a decade. On Tuesday, March 25, this
week’s all-volunteer work crew took
a brief timeout from their labor of love
to commemorate the 12,000th quilt of the
“Oh, the stories we could tell of
the faces that light up when we make our
annual delivery to Children’s Hospital
of Central California,” said Jack.
Although the Democrats have
yet to select a presidential candidate
to appear on the ballot in November, Tulare
County has its ballot set for the upcoming
June 3 election.
OUT OF THE 435 members in
the House of Representatives, California
has the most, 53. In this strongly conservative
county where registered Republican voters
outnumber Democrats by nearly 20,000,
the U.S. Representative race for the 21st
District could be a lock for incumbent
Devin G. Nunes.
Nunes, a resident of Visalia and a member
of the House since 2002, is seeking his
fourth two-year term. His only opponent
is Larry Johnson, a Democrat and retired
business owner from Clovis.
PROPOSITION 93, WHICH was
on the February 2008 ballot, would have
allowed Bill Maze, 34th District assemblyman
from Visalia, and other state legislators
to serve a total of 12 years in the house
in which they are currently serving, but
the measure was defeated. Maze, a former
Tulare County supervisor from Visalia,
has now served in the state Legislature
for three two-year terms and, according
to California law, cannot run for re-election.
The vast 34th District encompasses
Tulare, Kern, Inyo, and San Bernardino
counties. Desmond Farrelly, a teacher
from Visalia, is the only Democrat on
the ballot this race. He will be running
against one of four Republican candidates
during the November presidential election.
The four Republicans contesting
Bill Maze’s vacant seat include
his wife, Becky Maze, who wants to build
on the legacy her husband began; Connie
Conway, a second-term Tulare County supervisor
for District 2 (Tulare); Bob Smith, a
retired deputy sheriff from San Bernardino
County; and Jon Zellhoefer of Tecopa in
ALLEN ISHIDA, 1ST District
county supervisor and a citrus rancher
from Lindsay, is running for his second
four-year term. In this nonpartisan race,
he will face opponent Guy Christian, a
district attorney investigator from Visalia.
District 1 encompasses northeastern Tulare
County, including Three Rivers, Lemon
Cove, portions of Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks and Giant Sequoia National
Monument, Exeter, Farmersville, Lindsay,
Strathmore, and east Visalia.
The deadline to register
to vote for the June 3 primary election
is Monday, May 19. For more information,