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In the News - Friday, May 6, 2011


See this week's front page


3R Marine deploys to Afghanistan

by Brian Rothhammer

  Corporal Aaron Payne, United States Marine Corps, son of Mike and Patty Payne of Three Rivers, was deployed to southern Afghanistan on Thursday, May 5. He welcomed the deployment and expressed the need to maintain vigilance and root out and destroy remaining elements of the Taliban and other terror organizations in that country.
   The Paynes moved from San Jose to Three Rivers in 2004. After graduating Woodlake High School in 2006, Aaron went on to Fresno State.
  “I was going nowhere, really, and needed to do something,” he said. “I decided on the Marines because they’re the best there is and that was my best option.”
   His first day of boot camp was September 11, 2007. Though anxious to go overseas and meet terrorist organizations on their own ground, Aaron was initially assigned to stateside duty.
  “I was upset at first to be in a non-deployable unit,” he said. “That is hard for a Marine.”
Before too long, Aaron’s mission became more clear. The Marine Corps had redesigned and upgraded two tried-and-true warhorses.
  “The new Zulus and Yankees [helicopters] were coming in to replace the old Cobras and Hueys from the Vietnam era,” Aaron explained.
   Aaron’s unit — HMLA 203 — is a Light Attack Helicopter Squadron based at Camp Pendleton. They were the first to train with the new lighter, faster, harder hitting aircraft and their state-of-the-art electronic systems.
   For four years, Aaron has been part of a team that has trained fellow Marines to master the tactical and technological skills needed to bring some of the most advanced and effective military hardware in existence to bear against the forces of terrorism worldwide. At HMLA 267 in 2010, he and three other instructors trained a squadron of 230 elite Marine pilots.
   When asked about his reaction to the news of the death of Osama bin Laden just five days before his deployment, Aaron said:
  “I was ecstatic… so happy. It seemed almost as if he’d been forgotten, then we got him! But you must remember he was just one man. We have the whole group to deal with. With their irreplaceable leader gone, it puts our Marines in position to go at them and hit hard.   Either they won’t know what to do or they’ll come at us with all they have.” 
   The central command, Aaron said, will provide infantry with air support.
  “They light up the target [laser-guided ordinance systems], and we hit with Hellfire missiles, .50 caliber, or 20 mm guns. We have night vision, heat vision, and infrared,” Aaron said
   The Yankees (UH-1 helicopters), he continued, do insertion and medivac, as well as fight. Their increased fuel capacity and payload mean deeper insertions with more equipment, but the Zulu Cobras are the real fighting machines.
  “The thing to realize is that if we [U.S. military] aren’t there, they [Taliban] will be here,” said Aaron. “When we clear out all these areas where terrorists hide, the law-abiding Muslims and other citizens can live in safety, and perhaps someday the whole world can have peace.”

Lots to do in Kaweah Country this weekend

  Mother’s Day weekend is the busiest two days of the year in these parts in terms of events. There is absolutely no reason to sit around at home and say, “I’m bored,” this weekend as there is something for everyone.


   Two popular events coincide Saturday to provide the perfect opportunity to view and obtain artwork and meet the artists who create it. The annual Redbud Festival, a Three Rivers tradition since 1972, will be held at Lions Arena on Saturday and Sunday.
   Coinciding with this popular event is 1st Saturday, the monthly open house throughout Three Rivers in which artists concurrently open their studios and shops to the public and offer enticing events, demonstrations, classes, and special deals that make the pleasurable task of touring Three Rivers even better. To explore the 1st Saturday offerings, start by picking up a free map of participating locations at Anne Lang’s Emporium.
   The Redbud Festival will be open from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. on Saturday; 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. on Sunday. In addition to dozens and dozens of booths of all handmade items (it’s a requirement!), patrons will also enjoy the Redbud Garden Club’s plant booth, the results of a student art contest by Three Rivers School students, live music, a raffle of artists’ works, and food, including a down-home barbecue.
   Admission and parking are free.


   The Community Yard Sale has been an annual happening in May for more than a couple decades. However, a recent addition has been the used books-and-more booth by the Friends of the Library group. So peruse the grounds adjacent to the Sequoia Cider Mill restaurant on Saturday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. All sales of books, audio books, DVDs, and more benefit Three Rivers Library. Other booths will feature the usual yard sale fare where you are certain to find all sorts of bargains you never knew you needed but now could never live without.

   After all this fun in the sun, come to the Community Presbyterian Church on Saturday for a relaxing evening of beautiful violin music, performed by Danielle Belen. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12. (See article on page 5.)
For details about this weekend’s Woodlake Parade and Rodeo, see pages 6 and 7. And believe it or not, there are even more events happening this weekend, so be sure to check out the Kaweah Kalendar on page 11.

Motorcycle down, one injured

  Brad Baillie, 73, sustained moderate injuries Tuesday, May 3, when the motorcycle he was driving went down on Highway 198 just east of Horse Creek. A CHP investigator at the scene reported that the 1983 Honda motorcycle was being driven eastbound when, for no apparent reason, it crashed onto the roadway.
   The CHP report estimated that Baillie, a resident of Corona, was traveling between 25 and 30 mph. The 4:30 p.m. accident had traffic snarled for more than 30 minutes as emergency personnel cleared the scene.
   Baillie was treated on-site then transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia.
   The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Sequoia-Kings Canyon readying for visitor season

  Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks roads that have been closed for the winter are now reopening. Highway 180 to Cedar Grove opened April 29.
   On Saturday, May 14, the Crystal Cave Road will open. Concurrently, Crystal Cave’s tour season will begin (www.sequoiahis tory.org for tour schedule).
   The road to Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow is scheduled to open for the visitor season on Friday, May 20. New this year, this popular road will be closed to all vehicle traffic except park shuttles, backpackers with permits, and those with a disabled person parking placard.
   The Mineral King Road is on track to be opened Thursday, May 26, in time for Memorial Day weekend, although there is still plenty of snow on the ground in the valley at 7,000 feet elevation.
   The Giant Forest Museum, which was closed for the winter for the first time in 2010-2011, is scheduled to open Thursday, May 26. The Cedar Grove Visitor Center near road’s end in Kings Canyon National Park will also open May 26.

Town meeting featured County administrators

  At a past meeting, Supervisor Allen Ishida promised attendees that he would invite all the County of Tulare department heads to attend a Three Rivers Town Hall meeting. One by one, he has made good on that promise.
   To open last Monday’s meeting (May 2), Supervisor Ishida introduced Jean Rousseau, Tulare County’s chief administrative officer. Rousseau, making his first visit to a Three Rivers Town Hall, explained he’s involved in all aspects of county government, especially when it comes to what’s being spent where.
   Rousseau reported that the entire 2009-2010 budget for the County was $862 million; the current fiscal year’s budget is expected to come in approximately $4 million less.
   That figure, Supervisor Ishida said, does not reflect any large cuts in spending but the disparity will be greater next year when cost savings implemented by the Board of Supervisors have more impact.
   Rousseau also mentioned several interesting water developments. Not surprisingly, because of the recent drought and the overdraft, the water table under Visalia, and generally throughout the county, is at an all-time low.
   Supervisor Ishida commented that the overdraft has caused subsidence — where the land actually sinks when water below is depleted — in Tooleville and along Highway 198. It’s cause for concern, he said, but nowhere near the problem of areas on the west side of the Valley. Some areas near Paso Robles have subsided over 60 feet, he said.
   There was also discussion of a recent FEMA mapping of the Upper Kaweah Basin’s dike adjacent to the Western Holiday Lodge. FEMA officials claim that the dike, built in 2004, poses a greater flood risk than was previously considered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
   Supervisor Ishida said the FEMA study makes no sense and the County will appeal the change in status. It could potentially change the insurance costs on any nearby fee-simple property.
   Rousseau also mentioned that Three Rivers has more subdivisions than anywhere in Tulare County. Most are parcel splits or tentative tracks that were approved but never built.
Dave Bryant, Tulare County’s chief long-range planner, explained how community plans work within the umbrella of the General Plan Update. It’s conceivable, he said, that another load of documents could go out for public review in late summer or early fall.
   Supervisor Ishida said at next month’s meeting he is inviting county administrators from Code Compliance and Health and Human Services. The next Town Hall meeting is June 6.

Ishida also announced that District One is looking to fill a vacancy on the Board of Assessments and Appeals. Preferred applicants should be a CPA or a real estate broker.


Names on a wall

By Gary Whitney

  This is the first in a four-part series that will honor the three Three Rivers men who were killed in World War II. A plaque will be placed at the Three Rivers Cemetery in their honor during a special Memorial Day service.
                 * * *
   For me, this story started when I was about eight years old. My family had returned to Three Rivers after many years of living in other parts of the state.
   Three Rivers in the late 1960s was quite different, with only two television channels (if you were lucky). Potlucks and community events were well attended. You knew everybody in town by name. Going to the post office was generally an hour event because that is where you found out what was going on.
   If you were here back then, you have a good sense of how different the community is today but in many ways, it hasn’t changed at all. I am referring mainly to that sense of community pride.
   I know when someone asks me where I am from I proudly proclaim “Three Rivers” as if they should suddenly bow and be honored to meet me as well as know exactly where Three Rivers is on a map. No, I am not arrogant but I think you know what I mean. This is a great place to live and we assume that everyone should know it.
   Back then, almost all community events took place at the Three Rivers Veterans Memorial Building. Boy Scouts spaghetti feeds, Three Rivers School’s eighth-grade graduations, Three Rivers movie night, Woman’s club, Lions Club, VFW, etc., etc., all took place there.
   I have many wonderful memories from events held there, except for one. In a late night game of tag, I left the remains of my front tooth on the ground by the wall at the back door.  All I can say is, not only should you look both ways before crossing a street but you should look before you run in the dark as well. Luckily for me, Darrell Rich, DDS, had just moved to Three Rivers and didn’t mind working after hours.
   There was another “wall” at the building however, that had a much greater impact on me when I was growing up. Although not actually a wall, it was more like a large sign, but as an eight-year-old, it towered over me.
   It is the list of the names of the men and women from Three Rivers who had served our country during World War II. It was a lot to grasp for such a young mind and even more so when my father pointed to the name of my grandfather.
   I will never forget the sense of pride I felt in seeing my grandfather so honored. My father then told me another fact about those names: Three of the men did not come home.
   In this introduction and the three stories to follow in coming weeks, I will share with you something about these men and the sacrifice they made to ensure our continued freedom.
Japan catapulted the United States into World War II with its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Three Rivers, like the rest of the communities around the country, sent its sons and daughters to the military to defend our nation. Ninety-five men and women from Three Rivers joined the service, about 10 percent of the total population at the time.
   Our men and women served with great distinction in a variety of ways and suffered many hardships. Captain Orlen N. Loverin, 2nd Lieutenant Donald D. Brewer, and 2nd Lieutenant Howard F. Liddell Jr. never came home.
   All three men were pilots who served in the Army Air Corps. Donald served in the European Theater while Orlen and Howard served in the Pacific Theater.
   I will write about not only their military history but also offer a glimpse into their lives prior to service.
   I am sure they intended to fight the war and then return to continue on with the lives they had started but it was not to be. Yet I am just as sure that they were aware of that possibility as well.
   On Memorial Day, these brave men will be honored at the Three Rivers Community Cemetery by the placement of a plaque on the flagpole base. My fervent hope is that you will come to know and love these men as I have and join us Memorial Day at 10 a.m. in memory of their sacrifice.


Suicide Race is back

  It’s rodeo time in Woodlake and that means all is ready for the 58th annual Woodlake Lions Rodeo, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday.
   The annual Woodlake Western Week Parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 7, with Grand Marshal Steve Guerrero leading the way. Rodeo Queen Justine Day, First Princess Jordyn White, the Visalia Rockettes, traditional vaqueros with their dancing horses, ropers, mule teams, civic organizations, folkloric dancers, and other delights will thrill parade-watchers along Woodlake’s main street.
   At 11 a.m. each day, the Rodeo Grounds will open for the Rodeo faithful. Passing through the gates, attendees can mosey on up to the BBQ Barn for delicious Western deep-pit barbecue dinners, featuring marinated beef cooked to perfection by the Woodlake Lions.
   From there, it’s all about rodeo. Events start at 3:30 pm on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
   Back by popular demand for the first time in many years is the Suicide Race, kind of like an eco-challenge for the most athletic cowboys and cowgirls. The popular cross-country horse race returns this year and will be held each day.
   The beginning of each day’s Rodeo action will be signaled by Kent Lane, who will leap out of an airplane with an immense American flag streaming behind him, then land in the middle of the Rodeo arena.
   Between the array of Rodeo events, the world’s smartest horse will perform with rodeo clown Wild Child, who also acts up on his motorcycle. For the 13th year, the familiar voice of Chad Nicholson will echo through the grounds as he announces the Rodeo while sharing his depth of experience of the events.
   Tickets for adults are available at the gate for $14 while youth ages seven to 12 are admitted for $8. Admission for age six years and under is free. Parking at the arena is also free.
   Those over 21 are invited to the Midnight Dance on Saturday. It starts at 6:30 p.m. with live music by Chaparral. Dance tickets are $10.
   If you’re still Tough Enough to Wear Pink, the Mother’s Day tribute to breast-cancer awareness will be held Sunday. To date, the campaign has raised $5 million for breast cancer charities, much of which stays right in the community. The grassroots movement spreads a message of hope and support that has reached beyond the rodeo arena to competitors, families, and fans across America.
   Saturday is Military Appreciation Day. Active military personnel with current ID will be admitted free.
   Bring your RV and camp out at the ranch the entire weekend. RV parking is $25 per day.
The Woodlake Rodeo is hosted by the Woodlake Lions Club. The Rodeo Arena is located three miles north of Elderwood. Take Highway 245 out of Woodlake until Avenue 398 is reached. Follow the signs to the Rodeo grounds.
   For information, call Woodlake Lions at 564-8555 or visit www.woodlakelionsrodeo.com.

Steve Guerrero, 92, Rodeo Parade’s grand marshal

  He’s 92 years young, lives less than a mile from the Woodlake Lions Rodeo Arena, he’s a great neighbor, and he’s been friends with Bill Ferry Jr. and his family since he moved to Woodlake in 1945.
   That friendship of more than six decades, Steve said, is the main reason why he is this year’s grand marshal of the Woodlake Rodeo Parade, which kicks off the Rodeo on Saturday morning.
  “You see,” Steve explained, “Bill is this year’s Lions president and he picked me for this great honor. If anyone else had asked me I might have said no but for Bill there was no way I could say no to my good friend.”
   Steve Guerrero was born June 6, 1918, in Placentia in Southern California. His parents raised him and his 10 siblings down there in Orange County. He and his wife, Jennie, moved to Woodlake in 1945 and, for the next 12 years, Steve ran a crew at a local packinghouse.
   Steve next managed several area ranches and helped Bill Ferry Sr. improve his operation. Along the way, he has worked for Woodlake Hardware, Bill Diamond’s Grocery, Store and various nurseries around Woodlake.
   In the 1970s, he worked for Wheeling Pacific just before he retired in 1973. He continued to work and improve his own 20-acre ranch, which he proudly calls the “Big G.”
   In the heart of the Big G Ranch Steve and Jennie raised four children – Robert, Steve Jr., Irene, and Patricia. Robert moved to Visalia to start his family while Steve Jr. has remained in Woodlake raising his family.
   In time, the ranch was divided so that the daughters could build their own houses for their families. So for the Guerreros, like so many members of the Woodlake community, it’s all about family and being good neighbors.
   In fact, Steve is known around town as the “World’s Greatest Neighbor.” That reputation, his friends say, comes from the fact that he has always been willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.
   When asked what it’s like being the 2011 Grand Marshal and getting to ride at the head of the Western Week Parade he exclaimed:
  “It’s the greatest thing in the world. Who gets to be in that position?”
   You do, Steve, and you are deserving of every minute of Woodlake’s Western Week spotlight.

Justine Day, Rodeo Queen 2011

  She’s determined, she’s confident, she’s been around horses her entire 22 years, and she’s got a Fancyface. Oh, she’s a pretty face for sure, but Fancyface is her first horse and her best horse story too!
  “When I was riding in my first barrel race at age six I was just getting used to Fancyface, my new horse,” Justine recalled. “When I climbed up in the saddle, who knew that horse would start buckin’ in circles like a bronc and take me for one wild ride?”
   Justine held on for dear life and finally managed to get control of her new mount. Lots of folks who witnessed that wild ride couldn’t believe she wasn’t thrown clear off.
   As it turned out, that wild ride was just a parody of the life of a small-town country girl born and raised in Terra Bella.
  “I guess that’s why I’m such a good fit with the Woodlake community,” Justine said. “The Woodlake community is so wonderful and the people in that small town remind me of the folks I grew up with in Terra Bella.”
   Justine admitted that the Woodlake Rodeo Queen was the first time she ever entered a competition like this one. Her success, she credits, stems from learning responsibility from taking care of her horses and loving horses in general.
   Now Justine helps others learn responsibility and confidence in riding and being around horses. It comes naturally because she enjoys teaching, she says, especially working with young children.
  “Ever since I graduated from Porterville High School in 2007 I wanted to be a first-grade teacher,” she said. “My work with ProYouth HEART confirmed to me that I love teaching kids and has made me even more determined to have a teaching career.”
   Justine who will complete her B.A. in education soon still lives in Porterville where she commutes to her classes at Brandman University in Visalia. This is one determined lady who knows exactly what she wants.
   This weekend, she wants to be the best Rodeo Queen she can be. Come out and watch during the Parade and Rodeo as Justine and Diamonds Rickashea strut their stuff with beauty, grace, and dignity.


News of the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute

Belen to play Dillon... and Elias!

By Bill Haxton

  Acclaimed contemporary American composer Lawrence Dillon will be featured in tomorrow evening’s concert. Rapidly emerging as one of the most potent modern composers, he’s been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Music Center, the Pew Charitable Trusts and many more.
   Though contemporary, Dillon’s music is easily approachable, written to create recognizable effects and emotion. The concert pieces are all from a new Naxos CD of Dillon’s violin works, recently recorded by virtuoso Danielle Belen, who will be on hand to autograph copies.
   Dillon’s Façade creates a powerful metaphor for the human condition. The initial theme is a comforting Romantic melody that flows reassuringly along for about two minutes. Then comes the first punctuated sign of disintegration. From here, the theme falls apart into isolated fragments, wary, watchful, apprehensive. Then a mirror image of the original theme reappears; this time strained and fragile.
   In Fifteen Minutes, there are over a dozen short but accurate emotional sketches that evoke exactly what their titles suggest — Grand Entrance, Runaway, Foolery, Carried Away.
   In one piece, Danielle makes the violin sound like two songbirds calling across an expanse of forest. Toward the end, in the short segment called “Dissonance,” there’s a wonderfully funny piece in which the violin part is doubled with a kazoo.
   The second half opens with one of the most powerful, moving, and difficult violin pieces ever written: J.S. Bach’s majestic Chaconne from the Partita in D Minor. Brahms said of this piece, “On one stave, for a small instrument, Bach writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.”
   Danielle will also perform a recent composition by Three Rivers composer Ken Elias, the delightful Scherzo from his Sonata for Violin and Piano 2011. In Ken’s words, “Awhile back, Danielle asked me if I’d ever thought about composing something for violin. I asked her if she would collaborate with me, since my knowledge of violin is limited, and she agreed. I’m extremely grateful to her for this opportunity, and for performing part of the work1”
   The program closes with Pablo Sarasate’s energetic Introduction and Tarantelle, a virtuosic composition that has been bringing audiences to their feet for over a hundred years.

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