the News - Friday, May 1, 2009
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
tribute to fallen cowboy
It’s always a bittersweet moment
at the annual Three Rivers Roping when members of
the Thorn family present the trophy and buckles to
the winners of the Craig S. Thorn III Memorial Branding.
Craig died 20 years ago at the age of 35. The presentation
was especially emotional this year as word spread
throughout the event that the matriarch of the family,
Shirley Thorn (Craig’s mother), had passed away
Friday, April 24.
This year’s Memorial Branding winners
were Brent Lockett, Leroy Chico, Jordan Ketcher, and
Blaine Ketcher. This is the third consecutive year
that Brent and Leroy have been members of the winning
team. Representing the Thorn family by presenting
buckles and a trophy to the winners were Craig’s
daughters, Megan Thorn of Three Rivers and Heather
(Thorn) Stieler, and grandchildren Craig Stieler,
Avery Thorn, Alijah Thorn, and Kelsie Stieler.
Local parks share in
When President Barack Obama signed the
$787 billion stimulus package into law in February,
$750 million was designated for use at national parks
all across the U.S. from the Statue of Liberty to
Death Valley. As a result, more than 20,000 jobs are
expected to be created.
The park projects reflect a huge investment in the
Park System under the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009, part of more than $3 billion that the
Department of the Interior is investing in the nation’s
economy under President Obama’s recovery plan.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
officials attended a special meeting in Clovis last
week to hear how the initial appropriations will be
spent. Many of the funding requests for stimulus cash
have been on wish lists for nearly a decade.
“We’re really excited and are fortunate
that we’ve got the funding to move forward on
the first round of projects,” said Deb Schweizer,
fire education specialist with Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Schweizer also said that more money may be forthcoming
later this summer. In the first go-round, five projects
have been approved in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks for a total of $14 million.
—Replace potable water tanks and improve
fire suppression at Ash Mountain headquarters, $10.3
—Replace propane generator with hybrid
photovoltaic system at Crystal Cave, $3 million.
—Replace wastewater monitoring components
at five wastewater treatment plants and 17 potable
water systems throughout the parks, $345,000.
—Rebuild storm-damaged portions of Kennedy
Pass trail, $84,000.
—Rebuild trails damaged during Tehipite
Vehicle stop on South Fork
leads to arrest
When the calendar says springtime, traffic
generally picks up in the more remote areas of Sequoia
National Park; so do the patrols of park rangers who
with the change in weather are on the lookout for
suspicious persons who might be trying to establish
marijuana planting locales.
“We know what’s going on this time
of the year so we are stepping up our traffic checks
on all park roads and in areas nearby the parks,”
said one law enforcement ranger who requested anonymity.
“In the past couple of weeks we’ve made
several stops in an ongoing effort to send a message
to these growers.”
On Thursday, April 23, a suspicious vehicle
was stopped on South Fork Drive near the Sequoia Park
entrance. There were five adults in the vehicle; one
female and four males and only one of the occupants
was wearing a seatbelt.
A cursory search revealed that Miguel
Rafael Lopez, 21, of Woodville was in possession of
a firearm. With an arrest imminent, the rangers called
for assistance from the Tulare County’s Sheriff’s
The subjects were detained by the NPS
rangers until a Sheriff’s detective arrived
at the scene. Lopez was arrested and charged with
the firearms violation and being in possession of
stolen property — the firearm.
Lopez is currently in custody and awaiting
trial on the charges.
It is important for Three Rivers residents to be watchful
and alert to any suspicious activity on local roads
and around their property in an effort to impede the
activity of the pot growers. However, never approach
anyone who may be in the act of a crime, instead call
Anyone with information on any park crime
or suspicious activity in or nearby the local parks
is asked to call the anonymous hotline: 888-NPS-CRIME.
3R Golf Course reopens
After closing without notice on March
31, the Three Rivers Golf Course reopened Tuesday,
April 28. As expected, a new manager was hired to
oversee the daily operation of the scenic nine-hole
A source close to property owner Steve
Oh, who owns and operates another course in Los Angeles
County, said it will be business as usual at the local
course. No reason was given for the closure other
than some maintenance was needed at various locales
around the grounds.
At least two of the former starters,
Ted Faris and Ted Hiltel, were rehired. Several Three
Rivers golfers expressed relief that the course was
While Three Rivers was closed, some local
players said they were making the 70-minute drive
to the new Dinuba course. But to play 18 holes at
Dinuba, one golfer said, required most of the day.
Lots of visitors also enjoy playing Three Rivers many
of whom come up from the Valley to spend the day and
play a round or two of golf.
Family reunion celebrates local
by Brian Rothhammer
They came from Washington, Oregon, Utah
and from California. They came seeking to learn what
life was like in Kaweah.
As their ancestors had more than a century
ago, members of one of the founding families of the
original Kaweah Colony assembled in Kaweah Country
on Saturday, April 25. Attendees of the Clark/Dillon/Purdy
reunion arrived by automobile and one by motorcycle,
although that was not the case with George and Betsy
George Alonzo Purdy was a veteran of
the Union Army in the U.S. Civil War. Betsy Purdy
was a reformer who championed women’s rights,
temperance, and a philosophy simply called “New
Both George and Betsy had been active in the famed
Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses and
escape routes employed at great risk to smuggle slaves
north to freedom during the Civil War.
Answering the call to “go west,”
the Purdy family joined a wagon train bound for Colorado.
It was there in the 1880s that they learned of the
The colony, which was based on ideals
of a utopian society free of the injustices that they
had fought against so vigorously, held great appeal
for George and Betsy. Their combined strength of will
and moral character made them ideal colony comrades.
So it was then how the Purdy family found
their way to the Kaweah Colony in 1889. So it is now
— 120 years later — that their descendants
retrace some of their steps and find their way back.
Meeting in Visalia, the reunion split
into three groups, following an itinerary of computer-generated
maps guiding the groups first to the Visalia Cemetery,
then on to the Three Rivers Cemetery, the Three Rivers
Historical Society, and that quaint vestige of the
old colony, the Kaweah Post Office (this writers’
great-grandmother worked for Postmistress Ida Purdy
there from 1946-1955).
While at the Three Rivers Historical
Society Museum, the family donated copies of historical
photographs of the Purdys, Dillons, Clarks, and of
Uncle Armin’s (Armin Von Grunigen) stagecoach
to Sequoia, which operated on the North Fork. Included
in the collection were photos of the Dillon tent home
at Kaweah, and of Myrl Dillon, and the seventh-grade
class at Three Rivers School ca. 1910.
Afterward, the reunion of several dozen
family members, including Matt Murphy, a Lake Kaweah
park ranger who lives in Visalia, gathered at the
Gateway Restaurant, near the Ash Mountain entrance
to Sequoia National Park.
The North Fork road had its origins with
the Kaweah Colony as a means to transport supplies
to, and finished goods from, the settlement. For decades,
it was the only road to the Giant Forest and after
the park’s creation in 1890 the main road entering
Sequoia National Park.
One stonemason who came to work on the
new Generals Highway in 1924 was George E. Clark.
Soon after, he met and married Myrl Dillon.
Copies of an old postcard were distributed
to the descendants with a photo of Tunnel Rock (1.5
miles beyond Ash Mountain entrance to park) on one
side, and an inscription from Clark on the other.
“I stood on this rock … before road was
built. Old road went around rock to the right.”
What was old is new again as the Generals
Highway, built in 1926, has been again rerouted around
Tunnel Rock rather than under it.
In Jay O’Connell’s book, Co-Operative
Dreams: A History of the Kaweah Colony (Raven River
Press, 1999), there is a poem written by Will Purdy
(son of George and Betsy). It reads:
“Ideals, like beauty, are eternal joys;
Their images our vision never cloys; Fair progeny
of the aspiring mind, round all her projects re their
Earth Day event planned for
In cooperation with the nonprofit Tulare
County Citizens for Responsible Growth, Carole Clum
of Three Rivers has been working for the past several
months to organize Earth Day. Granted, Three Rivers
Earth Day is being held a week-and-a-half after the
nationwide commemoration of Earth, but there’s
a good reason for that: Jazzaffair and Roping pretty
much have a lock on the April weekends, so other major
events need to schedule elsewhere.
Here is how Carole explains what will
be at this Saturday’s Earth Day event:
Have fun while learning how to grow organic
vegetables with compost you can make with an assist
Shrink your carbon footprint while lowering your home-energy
Make your yard wildlife-friendly with
food, water, cover, and places for birds and animals
to raise their young.
See the Earth Day art created by Three
Rivers School students.
Discover ways you and your family can
reduce air pollution and water pollution.
Learn how to conserve water.
Find out how to reduce fire hazards and
home and wildfires in our woodlands.
Participate in the Environmental Scavenger
Hunt for youth and earn an Earth Day T-shirt. (This
challenge actually begins prior to Three Rivers Earth
Day as students at Three Rivers School have been given
a list of 21 environmentally-friendly things to find
in Three Rivers, such as a compost pile, a clothesline,
a hybrid car, and a straw-bale house. The students
are to bring their filled-in lists to the Earth Day
event and a T-shirt will be ordered for them.)
“The people of Three Rivers have the
opportunity to work together to improve our lives
and the environment,” said Carole. “We
can reduce our consumption, recycle our waste, reuse
our possessions, and repair instead of buying new.”
“Come to this free event where so many
members of our community are involved. We are working
to bring you the most up-to-date information.”
Earth Day will be held Saturday, May
2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial
3R movie is labor of love
‘Where in the world would you find a place like
In the real estate world, they are known
as Team Diana. But Diana Jules and Diana Glass, who
often utter the above quote, have teamed up for a
totally different project that is solely by them as
Three Rivers residents for the enjoyment of all other
Three Rivers residents.
They have made a movie of Three Rivers,
featuring stunning photos set to music.
“With all the chaos in the world, it
struck us again how fortunate we are to live in Three
Rivers,” said Diana… and Diana. “We
thought this was a good time to stop and be thankful
for where we live.”
They also said that one longtime Three
Rivers resident who saw an excerpt of the movie said
it made her “so proud to live in Three Rivers.”
Included in the movie will be unique
aerial shots of the Kaweah canyon. In fact, the entire
movie is composed of never-before-seen photographs.
Everyone is invited to come and celebrate
Three Rivers during this world premiere of “The
Seasons of Three Rivers.”
“The Seasons of Three Rivers” will
be shown Sunday, May 3, 4 p.m., at St. Anthony Retreat.
Admission is free.
Community Calendars now on
An annual fundraiser for 40 years, Three
Rivers School seventh-graders are currently taking
orders for the 2009-2010 Community Calendars. The
proceeds from this project help send the students
to San Francisco for their eighth-grade trip.
Birthdays and anniversaries may be listed,
as well as other important dates. The deadline for
orders is Tuesday, May 26.
To place an order, call Sylvia Diaz,
561-4280; Lisa Vawter, 561-2001; or the TRUS office,
Stamp prices to increase
The price of a first-class postage stamp
will increase two cents to 44 cents starting Monday,
The Postal Service said the price increase
was necessary because of rising production costs.
Under law, the price of stamps is not allowed to rise
faster than the U.S. consumer price index, which measures
Until the new prices go into effect,
customers can buy “Forever Stamps” at
the current 42-cent rate.
Dance company performs
by Yvonne Arroyo Sweeney
I am the director of and instructor for
Ballet Folklorico Sierra Linda, a children’s
Mexican folk dance group.
I was raised in Woodlake, attended Woodlake
schools, and know first-hand that Woodlake has a long
history of Mexican folk dance. But it wasn’t
until I attended Woodlake High School that I became
interested in participating in ballet folklorico (Mexican
While dancing in high school, I had the
opportunity to dance under Emilio Rivas with an advanced
folklorico company, Cuicacalli, based out of Los Angeles.
To this day, he remains involved, teaches, and is
held in high regard in the folklorico community.
It was with Cuicacalli that I had the
honor of performing for Pope John Paul II in Dodgers
Stadium in Los Angeles in 1987. It remains my most
memorable dance experience.
Upon graduation from Woodlake High in
1988, I continued to dance, though just for a short
time longer. But I stayed connected to the dance community
through my dear friends Lisa Perez and John Gonzales,
also Woodlake High School alum.
In 2006, my good friend and former classmate
Venicia Cardenas approached me about starting a dance
group in Woodlake after learning that the small group
her daughter danced with was disbanding. She, too,
remembered seeing folklorico groups in Woodlake in
her younger years.
She mentioned there was still a great
deal of interest in our area for a children's dance
group. She and I agreed to work together and, as a
result, formed Ballet Folklorico Sierra Linda.
I am the director/instructor and Venicia
is our booking coordinator. Together we have completed
three successful dance seasons.
Our dancers range in age from six to
12 years of age. They come from Woodlake and nearby
communities. We are currently 18 members strong.
We've performed at festivals, private
parties, fundraisers, and various other community
events. In 2006, five of our dancers had roles and
performed in the Enchanted Playhouse production of
Pedro: The Angel of Olvera Street.
Ballet Folklorico Sierra Linda prides
itself on being a community service effort. Tuition
is kept low in order to encourage as many children
as possible to participate.
We do not deny practices or performances
due to inability to pay tuition in a timely manner
or for lack of dance supplies. Our dancers are not
required to purchase costumes, and we try to keep
the out-of-pocket expenses to parents to a minimum.
Ballet Folklorico Sierra Linda does not
receive any funding from outside sources. All monies
used to support our group come from tuition, fundraising,
and the occasional donation for performances.
I, as well as my partner Venicia, provide all direction
and management on a volunteer basis. Weekly practices
are held at Castle Rock Elementary school in Woodlake.
To see a performance by the Ballet Folklorico
Sierra Linda, attend the Cinco de Mayo Festival at
the Woodlake City Park on Sunday, May 3. For more
information on the dance troupe, contact Yvonne at