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In the News - Friday, April 2, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


Village Market upgrades security systems

   When a person’s business or home is burglarized, it is an indescribable feeling of violation. Add one huge mess to the premises that is often made by the intruder and the feelings of anger and helplessness are magnified.
   It is those feelings that the folks who work at Village Market experienced in the aftermath of last week’s burglary [“Village Market burglarized,” March 26]. Earlier this year, the venerable market marked 60 years in business.
   Now owned by Greg Dixon and operated by his wife, Nataliya, it is the longest continuously operating family-owned retail business in Three Rivers (Britten Construction is 63 years old).
   But being a pillar of the community does not bring immunity from being a target of a malicious burglary. The timing of this recent incident couldn’t come at a more inopportune time.
   The staff is shouldering a tremendous responsibility right now, ordering all the Lions food and liquor for Jazzaffair and the Three Rivers Roping, the premier events of the local season that are literally right around the corner.
   Nataliya said she is feeling the stress to get everything ready and finding the best prices so the Three Rivers Lions can earn those funds that so many are counting on for scholarships and charitable donations.

  “We had been talking recently about upgrading our security system and now we have a state-of-the-art alarm system and infrared cameras that can film any movement inside or outside the store,” Nataliya said. “All the doors and locks have been upgraded.”
   Evidently, the store’s previous alarm malfunctioned during the recent burglary. But if there is another attempt at a break-in, Nataliya said, the new technology will work properly.

  “This business to me is part of my home and a big responsibility,” she continued. “But with all these new upgrades I will be sleeping a lot better now.”
   Nataliya also said their burglary should serve as a wakeup call to all of Three Rivers.

  “I wish anyone who owns a business to check your alarm system,” she advised. “Who knows, you may be next.”
   The investigation of the Village Market burglary is currently ongoing. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department at 733-6211.

Census on its way to 3R

   With April 1 being designated National Census Day and its national media blitz encouraging all to turn in their forms on that day, one would think Three Rivers would at least have received the highly publicized survey. Not so, said Rebecca Sanchez, a customer service representative at the Three Rivers Post Office.

  “They’re coming but so far the delivery of the forms has only been sporadic,” reported Rebecca. “I also worked at the Porterville station this week and it’s the same thing over there.”
For anyone who just can’t wait to reveal their demographics, the Census forms are available for a limited time at the office of THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH.
   Larry Baker of Three Rivers, a retired Lake Kaweah park ranger, said he was glad to be hired as one of the area supervisors. Larry and his team of Census takers will make certain that all of Three Rivers is counted.

3R couple to be
honored by Lions

by Brian Rothhammer

  Each year, the Three Rivers Lions Club holds a Recognition Night to honor those who provide exemplary service to the community. This year’s honorees are Tom and Rhoda “Dody” Marshall.
   Tom and Dody met in 1976 while Tom was a division manager for the American Automobile Association. Tom had been there for 10 years and Dody since 1974, having worked her way from file clerk to travel counselor.

  “At one point, he was my boss,” recalled Dody.

  “I remember when I first saw her.” said Tom. “She was standing at the top of the stairs. I remember what she wore, exactly how she looked. I was hooked and didn’t know it.”
   They did not begin dating until Tom left the Pasadena office and transferred to Colorado Springs. Dody followed, and the couple married in 1977.
   Both were native Californians and soon became homesick. After six years in Colorado, they moved to Half Moon Bay, north of Santa Cruz. While there, Tom managed a travel agency and Dody went into property management.
   In 1993, the couple moved to Three Rivers, as it was about midway between the residences of Tom’s and Dody’s parents, whom they visited often. Tom’s sister, Linda Drouet, already lived in Three Rivers.

  “We were both raised in the Los Angeles area, but we tend to think small town,” said Tom. “We feel that we want to do things for this community.”

  “It’s like family,” continued Dody. “We appreciate the sense of community and atmosphere of a small town.”
   They both got busy right away. In 1993 Dody started working for Guest Services Inc., then concessionaire to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Tom started a business called The Reservation Centre to coordinate accommodations for visitors to the Three Rivers area.   He also managed the Three Rivers Travel Agency for Janine Chilcott.
   By 1995, GSI was no longer at Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Dody started a business called The Office Staff the following year. Three Rivers Travel became a home-based business in 1999 and was run by    Tom until 2009, overlapping with The Reservation Centre, which eventually closed as well due to rising costs and more people making travel arrangements via the Internet.
   Also overlapping with The Office Staff was Tom’s Country Bear Originals, where Tom offers photographs of Kaweah Country to eager buyers. Both The Office Staff and Country Bear are still run by the couple.
   Tom’s passion for photography extends to his community service. Back in his Vietnam-era days as a Yeoman 3rd Class in the U.S. Navy, Tom had his own darkroom and developed countless photos for his shipmates. When sailors indicated a desire to have photos of their tanker fueling other ships, Tom sent letters to every ship they had fueled and received hundreds of prints that he gave out to his crew.
   In the late 1990s, Tom began photographing the Three Rivers School carnivals, accepting only enough payment to cover expenses, any excess being donated to the school. Since 2000, he has been photographing Lions Club events and donates over 1,500 images per year to the Lions. Tom’s work appears regularly in brochures promoting Three Rivers and surrounding areas.
   Community service comes naturally to Tom and Dody. In 1993, Tom joined the Three Rivers/Lemon Cove Business Association. By 1995 he had become president and was instrumental in developing the small organization into today’s Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce.
   In 1996, Tom and Dody took over the job of compiling and publishing the local telephone book on behalf of the Business Association/Chamber of Commerce. The directory is published every other year.

  “About four years ago, Janine Chilcott got me interested in the Three Rivers Historical Museum,” Tom said.
   First, he became a board member, and a year later Dody became involved in organizing the museum records and archives.

  “It had been organized well but not accurately catalogued,” said Dody while emphasizing her appreciation of the work done by her predecessors. She brings her years of office administration skills to bear in her efforts.
   Tom saw the need for the SFCC to have a permanent office, so he convinced the museum board to allow for space at the museum for brochures and Chamber materials. To avoid conflict of interest, Tom abstained from the vote that sealed the deal.
   At that time, the museum extended its hours from weekends to seven days per week. Although Tom may be more visible at the museum he refers to Dody as being the “glue that holds this place together.”
   On December 7, 2009, that order was threatened with chaos. Heavy rains breached the roof and caused flooding, which closed the museum for two months. The efforts to rebuild and reopen were monumental and greatly assisted by local volunteer labor.

  “The community really came together on that,” said Tom.
   In addition to annual events such as Living History Day, Appraisal Fair, and a Silent Auction, Tom has added the July Hot Dog Festival to the museum’s fundraising successes.
   Always on the lookout for volunteers, Tom and Dody ask that anyone interested in preserving Kaweah Country history for future generations should contact the museum.

  “We’ll put you to work!” said Dody.
   Perhaps their underlying desire to serve their neighbors comes from Dody’s “Golden Rule” upbringing by her parents and grandparents or from Tom’s history with the Boy Scouts as both Eagle Scout and scoutmaster. Regardless, they will be honored by the Three Rivers Lions Club on Thursday, April 8, during the annual Recognition Night festivities that also serve to kick off Jazzaffair weekend.

We Three Restaurant now serving dinner

   A perennial favorite for breakfast and lunch, We Three Bakery and Restaurant announced earlier this week that they will begin serving dinner on weekends from 2 to 9 p.m.. The expanded menu, which will be offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, now features even more good old-fashioned country comfort entrees like steak, pork chops, chicken breast, and weekly fish specials.

  “Our customers have been telling us lately that they would like to see us bring back the dinner menu,” said owner Craig Chavez. “We have a great staff, the busy season is here, so the timing was right.”
   With the warmer spring weather, the longtime favorite breakfast spot of locals also caters to a steady stream of patrons who want to be served outside at the patio tables.

  “The service and food is always great and with the free Wi-Fi I can catch up on email or check my latest bookings,” said one local business owner.

  We Three is open daily 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will continue to feature its scrumptious rolls, cookies and pastries baked fresh daily. Catering for any gathering, large or small, is also available by calling 561-4761.

All-League honors to WHS Boys’ Soccer

   Woodlake High School soccer teams tend to dominate the East Sequoia League year in, year out. And this winter was no different.
   But being recognized by the league and other coaches is quite an honor. This year, the League’s Most Valuable Player designation goes to Oscar Pena of Woodlake, Orlando Suastegui of Woodlake High was named Defensive Player. Jose Palomo, longtime WHS soccer coach, was named Coach of the Year.
   WHS soccer also has had four players named to First Team All League and four players named to Second Team All League, more than any other school in the league.
   First Team All League— Cristian Cuevas, Jose Campos, Rudy Perez, and Alfonso Reyes.
   Second Team All League— Fabien Martinez, Ary Esquivel, Ivan Vasquez, and Juan Martinez.

  “The Woodlake High School boys’ soccer team deserves to be recognized,” said Coach Palomo.
   The ESL is made up of teams from Woodlake, Corcoran, Lindsay, Orosi, and Strathmore.

A dollar for the Boy Scouts… and veterans

by Brian Rothhammer

  The United States Mint released the new Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Centennial Silver Dollar on Tuesday, March 23, amid much anticipation by legions of boosters as well as the coin-collecting public. These coins are not being produced for general circulation but are special commemoratives that were authorized in October 2008 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
   The BSA was founded as a result of a chance encounter by Chicago publisher W.D. Boyce with a young English boy scout while traveling in London in 1909. The scouting movement had been started just two years earlier by Lord Robert Baden-Powell as a means to promote mental, physical, social, and religious development among young boys.
   Boyce was very impressed with the manners and knowledge displayed by the young scout and upon return to the U.S. he set about to create the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, modeling it on the British organization. The founding of British scouting was inspired by the career of Frederick Burnham, a soldier of fortune with local ties to Three Rivers.
   Baden-Powell became acquainted with Burnham’s exploits during the Boer War ca. 1900. The U.S. scouting movement also incorporated tenets of the YMCA.
   The coin is struck on a planchet the same size, weight, and fineness as the old standard silver dollar. At one-and-a-half inches across, it weighs in at 26.7 grams of .900 fine silver, netting just over three-quarters of an ounce of pure silver. At today’s silver prices that comes to about $13.
   Standard silver dollars have not been struck for circulation since 1935, but since 1983, over 60 different designs of commemorative dollars have been made to the old standard and packaged for sale to collectors and dealers worldwide.
   As quoted from the Mint’s website: “Surcharges from the sales of these coins help fund a variety of organizations and projects that benefit the public.”
   Each commemorative issue is authorized by a specific act of Congress and mintages are limited, in this case, to a scant 350,000 (and 200,000 have already been sold). With over 3 million current Boy Scouts, many feel that this coin could become a valued and highly sought collectible.
   Also currently available is the American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar.
   For additional information about these and other U.S. Mint products, visit www.us mint.gov.

Kings Canyon Highway

spring opening delayed

   Due to mandatory furloughs for Cal Trans maintenance personnel, the scheduled openings of State Highway 180 to the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park will be delayed by one week.
   The top gate near the Hume Lake junction will open Thursday, April 15, at noon. This will provide access to the Yucca Point area, including Kings Canyon Lodge, which provides food, gas, and lodging.
   On Friday, April 30, at noon, the lower gate at Yucca Point will be opened, providing access along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway to Boyden Cave, Cedar Grove, and Road’s End. These dates, as always, are weather and road conditions permitting.


Color the world:

The positive impact of artists on a community

by Eddie McArthur

   I’ve learned that it’s near impossible to effectively report on the local art scene and participate in it at the same time. What I’d like to talk about this month is how a community comes to be recognized as an art venue.
   It seems to me that artists are rightfully known as “starving” and many seek property to buy or lease in affordable communities. In comparison with many California locales, Three Rivers has often fulfilled that need.
   In addition, this community remains very accepting of lifestyles that are not always the norm — think Blue Pig. A handful of artists get established, as much as artists are ever established, and then are joined by others.
   A group like Arts Alliance of Three Rivers gets started. Some performing artists start banging drums or strumming guitars or playing jazz and suddenly there is a festival happening.
   Each seems to add energy and influence to the others around it. And each and every one benefits the community at large and the other businesses.
   How? Well, think about it this way:
   First Saturday tomorrow (April 3) will bring a number of folks up from the valley to check out the most recent art offerings. While they are here, many will stop for lunch, buy gas, or perhaps even spend the night at a local motel.
   Some of the motels have signed on as 1st Saturday participants, among those, Sequoia Motel. Chris Schlossin, owner/manager there, is a consistent supporter of the local artists.
   She’s a regular at Studio Tour and is very generous with the community at large.
   Sierra Subs & Salads is located just next to the Art Co-op, and owners Dane and Allison Millner put together some fabulous sandwiches. Several people who came by my studio for Studio Tour mentioned having eaten there and were more than pleased.
   Among the artists, Miriam Briks and husband Kevin Yee will be showing at 3 Rivers Yoga. Miriam has also begun offering a life drawing class once a month, also at the yoga studio.
   And Day Spencer will be offering a free belly dance class at 3 Rivers Yoga on 1st Saturday. Patsy Dolson, a relative newcomer to the local art scene, will be the featured artist at The Art Co-op with a display of her European-influenced oil paintings.
   And, Martin Weekly, originally from Exeter, who is an internationally known and collected painter will be painting onsite at Mountain View Realty. This is a rare opportunity to watch a well-known oil painter in action.
   Upcoming in April is the famous Jazzaffair weekend. From those who design the flyers and programs, to the local eateries and motels, to the various retail venues around town, we all benefit from the event, whether or not we go to hear the jazz.
   Elsah Cort, organizer of the Studio Tour and an artist in her own right, will be teaching a course in handmade paper in April and, again, will attract non-residents. May will bring the return of the Redbud Festival, organized by the Arts Alliance.
   Again many out-of-town visitors will come to Three Rivers for an art event. In addition to some of our local artists, a number of out-of-town artists and craftspeople display and sell at the Redbud. At the end of May, the Arts Alliance will host a day of garden-themed art workshops.
   The depth and breadth of artists and art offerings here just keeps increasing.
   And then tourist season begins. We often hear that local businesses would not survive without tourists. Maybe, but that’s just three months of the year. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, think art and artists.

California Garden Clubs holds

annual meeting in Three Rivers

   The Redbud Garden Club had the honor of hosting the annual district meeting of California Garden Clubs. But they had a little yard work to accomplish before their guests arrived.

  “This wet year has been wonderful, but the weeds are rampant,” said Marcia Goldstein, publicity chairperson for Redbud Garden Club. “What a job we’ve had!”
   On Thursday, March 25, about 50 members from throughout the Central Valley traveled to Three Rivers, where they were initially greeted by the most beautiful garden of all: verdant hillsides filled with carpets of wildflowers.
   The gardeners met for lunch at Community Presbyterian Church, where Melanie Keeley, local horticulturist, presented a program about native plants. Following lunch, guests were provided with a map that directed them to gardens at various locations throughout Three Rivers that were planted, and are maintained, by the Redbud Garden Club. Local club members acted as guides at each site.
   In case you’ve been living under a rock at the river, here is what the Redbud Garden Club has been doing to beautify Three Rivers:
   2005 – CAL FIRE STATION: Garden Club members developed this fire-safe native plant garden (in photo above) at the request of a fire captain who saw the value in having this demonstration garden in Three Rivers.
   2005-2006 – THREE RIVERS MEMORIAL BUILDING: Reducing water consumption and costs were concerns for the Memorial District board, so native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers are the highlight of this garden. A second phase is planned.
   2007 – U.S. POST OFFICE: Originally planted in 1996, this native plant garden received an extensive renovation and is dedicated to longtime Redbud Garden Club member Jean Darsey (1921-2007).
   2008 – TULARE COUNTY LIBRARY/OUR PLACE PLAYGROUND: Designed originally for the Three Rivers Library’s 20th anniversary in 1997, a shade garden was added to the playground with the concerted effort of club members and Our Place parents and children.
   2009 – TULARE COUNTY FIRE STATION: This year-old native plant garden was developed in cooperation with Station 14 personnel. It is highlighted by benches, a bridge, and a Kaweah Country mural on the water tank.
   All of the gardens are open to the public for self-guided tours.

What floats their boats… and what doesn’t

by Brian Rothhammer

   You’ve heard the rhyme, Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub. Well, on Saturday, March 27, it was two to a tub at the Kaweah Recreation Area at Lake Kaweah for the final event of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s Heroes Appreciation Months.
   It all started with an idea hatched by Peter Sodhy, who organized the event along with his wife, Leah Catherine Launey. Back in his college days, Peter had been involved with some of those crazy projects in which Northrup University engineering students get involved. One had involved making semi-viable watercraft out of cast-iron bathtubs.
   The clear, warm day could not have been more perfect for the wet event. Five teams had been organized to build their peculiar craft and pilot them to soggy wet glory. About 11 a.m., the horn blew and the brave sailors-to-be had three hours to jerry-rig their standard issue clawfooters with driftwood, balloons, plastic jugs, and lots and lots of duct tape.
   The rules were simple. Each team of five had until 2:30 p.m. to convert their respective tubs using only the materials provided. At the end of that time, two members from each team were to paddle their way to a group of trees about 30 yards offshore, snap off a twig, and return.
   The return trip was hastened by the remaining three team members who pulled them back with a 100-foot rope that had been secured to each vessel. Anything that came off of the boats had to be retrieved by the crews in the tubs before they could return. The first to return afloat, or the last to sink, would be the winner.
   The teams were:
   Here We Come/There We Go (Comfort Inn & Suites)— Evany Camacho, Katie Wilson, Rick Booth, Marci Wilson and Kitty Lee.
   Tres Rios 911 (Three Rivers Volunteer Fire and Ambulance— Shaun O’Dell, Matt Lewis, Tracey McKibben, Dennis Villavicencio, and Sylvia Diaz.
   Team Got Heart (Pro Youth HEART)— Frances Pena, Michael Rodriguez, Amy Williams, Natalie Perrera and Rachael Fanjul.
   Chumley’s Crue (Corps of Engineers-Lake Kaweah volunteers)— Larry Butler, Wes Van Dame, Robert, Tammy, and Ashley Veronda.
   The last-minute replacement crew representing the Three Rivers Bread Basket was made up of Glenn McIntyre, Bobby Powell, James Irvin, Garrett O’Brien and Julia Irvin.
   Prior to the start, judges Tony Moreno, SFCC president, and Jim Fansett, resident deputy sheriff, announced the winners of three pre-race categories: Most Attractive— Tres Rios 911; Most Creative— Chumley’s Crue; Most Likely to Sink— Here We Come/There We Go.
   And then they were off. The entire race lasted a staggering nine minutes, a record as this was the first Lake Kaweah bathtub race.
   Team Got Heart sunk in short order. Next in the drink was the Comfort Inn team. Here they came; there they went.
   From the start, Three Rivers Fire and Ambulance looked to be the favorite, but soon lost a bottle from their fine craft and had to retrieve it. Plodding valiantly ahead, they made it to the trees, and with twig held high were rapidly being pulled ashore by fellow team members.   Too rapidly, as the wake from their bow was more than the structure could bear, and the craft quickly disassembled. Despite their titanic efforts, Tres Rios 911 did what the Titanic did: sank.
   Much to the amazement of all, two of the tubs were still afloat and in a dead heat toward victory. With mounting excitement, the Bread Basket team won by a photo finish, piloted by nine-year-olds Garrett and Julia.

  “Today, it’s all about having a good time.”, said Peter Sodhy. “There will definitely be a race next year.”
   The prize purse of $1,015.41 will be given to the Three Rivers Bread Basket.

Tulare man arrested on upper South Fork

   On Tuesday, March 30, a Tulare County Sheriff’s deputy, while responding to a suspicious vehicle near the end of South Fork Drive, made contact with Calvin Burns, 50, of Tulare. Burns was found to be in possession of two steel daggers and a glass pipe.
   The suspect also had an outstanding Tulare County arrest warrant for disobeying a court order. Burns was arrested, transported, and booked into the Tulare County Jail.
   The suspect remains in custody. He is now facing new charges of possession of a dangerous weapon and drug paraphernalia.

Property tax deadline looms

   Taxpayers are being reminded that the second installment of secured property taxes will be delinquent if not paid by Monday, April 12. If the payment is not postmarked or received by this date, a 10 percent penalty and a $10 cost will be added to the property tax bill.
   Also, per state law, the second installment payment cannot be collected until the first installment is paid.
   The tax collector’s office has a new curbside drop box for tax payments made by check. It is located in the northeast parking lot at the Visalia courthouse. Be sure to include your assessor’s parcel number on the check and enclose the payment stub in the envelope.
Payments may also be made by mail or in the tax collector’s office at 221 S. Mooney Blvd., Room 104E, Visalia.
   Information: 636-5250.


John Rogers
1913 ~ 2010

   John Rhea Rogers of Three Rivers died Saturday, March 20. He was 96 years of age.
   A memorial service will be held Monday, April 5, 11 a.m., at Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. A salad lunch and fellowship will immediately follow.
   John was born in 1913 in Sun Valley, Calif., to parents William and Mae Rogers. He had one brother and three sisters, all of whom have preceded him in death.
   When John was 14, he was delivering milk from the family’s dairy in a truck he built from whatever parts he could find in the salvage yard. Make or model did not matter; he could make it work.
   John had the mind, imagination, and the heart of an inventor. He loved to tinker and spend time in his shop, which he did until shortly before his death.
   In 1935, John married his high school sweetheart, Lura Upton. John built their home in Sunland, Calif., adding on as needed to accommodate their family. Lura preceded him in death.
   John was employed by Lockheed Aircraft at their Burbank facility.  Starting as a jig builder, by his retirement he was a design engineer and the go-to guy whenever there was a problem.
   John’s curiosity to discover what was over the next mountain or across the valley gave his family an appreciation of the wonders of nature and of the people met along the way.
   John is survived by his daughter, Joanne Fansett, and son James Rogers, both of Three Rivers; his granddaughter, Lori Scott, and husband Glynn of Big Bear Lake; grandson James Fansett and wife Kacey of Three Rivers; and two great-grandsons, Ryan and Kyle Fansett of Three Rivers.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that remembrances be made to Community Presbyterian Church (P.O. Box 685, Three Rivers, CA 93271) or Kaweah Delta Hospice (400 W. Mineral King, Visalia, CA 93292).
   Private interment will be at Forest Lawn. Condolences to the family may be sent online via www.evansmillerguinnchapel.com.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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