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In the News - Friday, May 10, 2013




Town meeting previews parks,

performing arts, planning


By John Elliott


  Last Monday night’s monthly Town Hall meeting (May 6) featured a packed and informative agenda covering a range of topics. The rainy weather did not deter a larger than normal turnout.

  Malinee Crapsey, spokesperson for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, began the evening’s program with news from the local parks including the announcement that the paving on the Generals Highway should be finished by the end of May. She also introduced Krystina Webster, acting fire education specialist, and Woody Smeck, acting parks superintendent.

  Smeck said his current 120-day detail at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks would ensure that the local national parks have a superintendent when the busy season begins. He was born in Bakersfield and raised in Lindsay and Visalia, he said, so he is familiar with the issues of the local parks.

  The acting superintendent also mentioned that his family has a cabin in Giant Sequoia National Monument (in the Camp Nelson area) so he knows firsthand the interests of cabin communities on public lands. Smeck has applied for the superintendent vacancy at Ash Mountain and if appointed, he said, it would be like coming home for the longtime Tulare County resident.    

  Diana Glass spoke on behalf of Center Stage Strings, a performing arts summer camp now in its fourth year in Three Rivers and scheduled to begin next month. This year, the camp will relocate to Santa Teresita, the new youth camp and conference center at St. Anthony Retreat.

   “There will be 25 violin, viola, and cello students attending the renowned two-week camp,” said Diana. “The first evening concert at the Presbyterian church is scheduled for June 18th and tickets are available at Chump’s.”

   Supervisor Allen Ishida provided a brief update on all the out-of–county activities he has been involved with lately. In April, along with his fellow supervisors, the Tulare County contingent lobbied in Washington, D.C., for more funding to eradicate marijuana grow sites on public lands and to raise the dam at Lake Success.

   They were told, Ishida said, that Lake Isabella is the funding priority because it is undergoing seismic testing that is limiting the pool and impacting the recreation and economy of the Kernville area. That project is proving to be much more costly than Lake Success.

   At the Lake Success project, after $20 million in feasibility studies, it has been determined that the infrastructure of the dam is not really at risk. The supervisors, Ishida said, want to see the dam raised to store more water but the federal government is telling Tulare County to wait  because flood control is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’s priority.

   Supervisor Ishida also introduced two Resource Management Agency planners: Michael Spata, assistant director of planning, and Hector Guerra, chief environmental planner. Spata pointed out that the county has assembled planning teams to tackle specific projects and balance land use, protection of the environment, and economic development.

   “The last two years have been marked by an improvement in the quality of the staff documents and in productivity of project processing,” Spata said. “There has been no litigation with one exception.”

   Guerra spoke on his role in analyzing each project in terms of the environmental impacts. He said he has nearly three decades of experience in the field and when he was with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District he drafted the rules prohibiting wood-burning fireplaces on the Valley floor.

   “Those wood-burning rules don’t affect folks up here but air quality is one of our most serious impacts,” Guerra said. “In summer we deal with ozone, and in the fall and winter we deal with particulate matter.”

   Owing to the late hour at the conclusion of the planning presentation, a question about the county’s biggest project – the Boswell Company’s Yokohl Ranch development never came up. Spata said later that the project is currently on hold.

   “They [Boswell Company] are obviously waiting to see what happens with the General Plan Update,” Spata said. “We expect that project to come back around later this year or in 2014.”

   The next town meeting is tentatively scheduled for June 10.


Sequoia Union School District

hires new superintendent


   The board of trustees of Sequoia Union School District has named Dr. Jerimicha “Jeremy” Powell as superintendent/principal of Sequoia Union School in Lemon Cove. He replaces Larry Lakey, who is retiring after eight years on the job.

   Dr. Powell was selected from a pool of 50 applicants. He is currently the principal of Bartlett Middle School in Porterville and will assume his duties at Sequoia Union as of June 30.

   “Dr. Powell has leadership qualities that are unparalleled, “said Matt McEwen, board president. “He possesses a vision and energy that will take Sequoia Union to new levels of teaching and learning.”

   Dr. Powell earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University at Chico, a master’s degree in Educational Administration from CSU Fresno, and a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University California at Davis/CSU Fresno Joint Doctoral Program.

   A National Board certified teacher, Dr. Powell is a regional board member of the Association of California School Administrators and has worked as a consultant for WestEd Educational Consulting since 2010, which focuses on whole school and district improvement through essential standards and strategic year-long pacing.

   While at Bartlett Middle School, he served as Porterville Unified School District’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) coordinator. Since 2006, Dr. Powell has overseen the increase in Bartlett’s Academic Performance Index (API) of 56 points. He has also been a leader in implementing the new Common Core State Standards and technology-embedded learning while raising daily attendance in the school’s afterschool program from 35 to 175 students.

   “Dr. Powell’s proven track record and extensive knowledge of the educational system will translate to further success at Sequoia Union,” said McEwen. “We are looking forward to his leadership.”

   Sequoia Union School is a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school with more than 300 students. The school’s API, at 845, is ranked third in Tulare County. The school has an active Parent Teacher Club, Sports Boosters Club, and band, sports, and drama programs.


   Photo caption:A Google Street View filmer takes in the Three Rivers landscape from his car-top camera. Google Street View displays online panoramas of stitched images taken from a specially adapted car equipped with directional cameras for 360° views.


   Photo caption: Less than a year after being razed by fire, the Sequoia Cider Mill Restaurant is rebuilding with plans for a summer opening.


   Photo caption: Last week, rafters high centered their vessel in the unseasonably low water of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River near The Gateway Restaurant.



TRUS support group

To sponsor farmers’ market


By Holly Gallo


   Following the success of the KaBOOM! Let’s Play video contest, the TRUS Eagle Booster Club is planning to hold a monthly farmers market in the Three Rivers Union School parking lot during the summer and fall in order to bring in funds to match the recently earned $15,000 grant to improve the school’s play space.

   According to Missy Alberti-Araujo, secretary of the EBC, the group plans to hold the “2nd Saturday Farmers Market” every second Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from June to October. They will be selling booth lots the size of two parking spaces for $10, where interested parties may sell local produce, plants, handmade items and crafts, eggs, and dairy products. The EBC will also be sponsoring a food booth selling lunch, snacks, and drinks, while local bands provide music and volunteers supervise kids’ activities.

   “Our community came together to make the Let’s Play video contest a success,” Missy said. “Now they have an opportunity to help support our school and also make money for themselves.”

   Those interested in selling their goods at the farmers’ market must pay prior to the event and will receive a discount if paying for all five markets in advance. They must also fill out a form informing the EBC what they are selling and at what prices they will be selling their items.

   Up to two people are allowed to share a space. Preference will be given to Three Rivers and Lemon Cove residents, but parties from other areas are also welcome to join.

   To reserve a space or get more information, contact Missy at 802-7130.

TRUS is also reaching out to local residents to help support the Three Rivers art classes taught at the school every Thursday. As the art classes are maintained entirely through volunteers, including Missy Alberti-Araujo and Maria Howell, they are asking that anyone willing to donate art supplies or cash contact the school or Missy.


Illegal U-turn causes wreck


   A U-turn is risky at best, but on the highway at Lemon Hill near Lake Kaweah it is bound to result in an accident. That’s what occurred on Thursday, May 2, at 2:30 p.m., when Alex Perez, driving a 2004 Ford 350 pickup truck westbound, pulled off the highway onto the shoulder.

   Perez, 22, from Lindsay told an investigating CHP officer that one vehicle passed then he attempted a U-turn but failed to see another approaching vehicle as he entered the roadway.  That vehicle was a 2006 Dodge Ram pickup driven westbound by Curtis Beedle, 20, of Three Rivers.

   Beedle’s pickup collided with the Ford causing damage to the driver’s side. The impact of the crash crumpled the front end of Beedle’s truck.

   Neither driver was injured. Perez could be cited for an illegal U-turn when the investigation of the accident is completed.


Totem Market has new owner


   Greg Lockhart, owner of Sequoia Pacific Reality, last week completed the purchase of the A-1 Totem Market. According to the new owner, the once popular tourist stop was in need of a new owner and property upgrades.

   Lockhart is the second owner of the Totem Market since Jeff and Karen Weiss purchased the property from the Plummer family in 2005. Jeff Weiss sold the property to the most recent owner, Rinod Ryani, in 2007.

   “I’ll keep the Indian theme and after cleaning and reorganizing the retail space will reopen the deli,” said Greg. “We are only open for limited hours now but hope to have everything up and running by the Memorial Day weekend.”


Rodeo queen is pride of Woodlake


By John Elliott


   Amanda Lawrence, a senior at Fresno State, has always wanted to make a run at being crowned queen of the Woodlake Lions Rodeo since she first became eligible five years ago. But this busy and talented equestrian never seemed to have a weekend free to give the queen competition a go.

   “In the past, I‘ve always had a horse show or a rodeo on the same weekend as the tryouts,” said Mandy, 21. “This year, it finally all worked out.”

   And like anything Mandy does whether it’s studying for an exam, barrel racing, or competing in a breakaway roping, Woodlake’s 2013 Rodeo Queen is a winner. She was born in Visalia but her family soon moved to the Woodlake countryside where Mandy and her brother, Justin, could ride and train horses.

   “I’ve shown horses since I was five, and it seems like most every weekend for as long as I can remember our family would be attending one horse-related event or another,” Mandy said.

   A 2009 graduate of Exeter High School, Mandy said that spending this quality time together all these years has made the Lawrence family a close-knit bunch. She is currently the president of the Fresno State Rodeo Team, and her parents never miss an event in which Mandy and her teammates compete.

   Two weekends ago, Mandy competed in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Regional Finals at Las Vegas. After nearly winning the barrels and placing in the top 15 in the breakaway roping, the family arrived home at 3 a.m. so brother Justin, a champion bronc rider, could compete the next day at the PRCA Springville Rodeo.

   “It was crazy that weekend,” Mandy said. “It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun too.”

   Fun and an impressive work ethic are pretty much the story of Mandy’s life. After she graduates from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Education, she will hang around the campus at least one more year to complete her internship and get a teaching certificate.

   Then it’s who knows where she might land as teacher, rodeo coach, horse trainer. Her dad, Phil, who designs and sells irrigation pumps, and her mom, Linda, a registered nurse who works for Tulare City School District, have pushed, prodded, and supported Mandy to be the best she can be.

   Mandy said her passion in life right now is rodeo because all the hard work and dedication required to compete have taught her discipline and made her a better person.

   “When I made the decision to apply for Queen in January, my brother Justin and my parents really pushed me and helped me practice for each of the competition’s events,” Mandy said. “I couldn’t have done it without them. My family is the reason for my success.”

   Mandy sees her reign as rodeo royalty as a way to give something back to the town where she was raised… and to pay back the Woodlake Lions for their faith and encouragement to be the best Woodlake Rodeo Queen she can be.

   Come on out Saturday and see Queen Mandy and her court as they participate in the annual parade through downtown Woodlake. Then it’s onto the Elderwood rodeo grounds for two days of some thrilling rodeo action.


Music Festival meets goal of aiding residents’ needs


By Holly Gallo


   Thanks to countless hours of hard work by over 110 volunteers, generous donations by community members and local businesses, and the tireless energy and leadership of Emergency Aid Alliance board members, the second annual Three Rivers Music Festival was a huge success.

   Last Saturday’s day-long “party with a purpose” brought in even more proceeds for the local charity than last year. Though the exact numbers are still being calculated, even conservative estimates of the proceeds far exceed the bar set by the 2012 festival.

    The growing fan base around the Three Rivers Music Festival was apparent even to festival-goers. By the time Chef Ryan Rusie’s mouthwatering deep-pit was served, there was barely room to walk on the Lions Arena lawn between the vendor booths. The dance floor quickly filled below the stage, and merchandise was flying off the tables.

   The 2013 festival T-shirts hardly made it through the afternoon before selling out, along with leftover swag from the 2012 festival. The dunk tank in the children’s area cost $1 to throw three balls, but when “Wonder Woman” Jackie Gardner took the throne, fans were willing to donate $20 for a chance to dunk her.

   EAA director Janene Lasswell said that the proceeds from the festival will help the nonprofit group to expand the reach of their financial assistance for the community.

   “We have way more money in the account now than a year ago,” Janene said. “We’re forming plans to branch out as far as the health of the community is concerned. We can be ready to meet bigger needs, the needs of the community, and not just the needs of the individual.”

   Janene gave sincere thanks to all of those who donated time, money, and items to ensure the festival’s success. Sequoia Motel, Lazy J Ranch Motel, Western Holiday Lodge, Three Rivers Hideaway, and Buckeye Tree Lodge/Sequoia Village Inn all provided free lodging for over 40 musicians. The Three Rivers Community Services District donated the printing cost for the festival program. Lions Club members Arthur Ogawa and John McWilliams also volunteered their time to forward the cause, and the local musicians played throughout the day “basically for a free dinner,” Janene said.

   “We noticed this year that everybody experienced this overwhelming sense of community,” she said. “It made them genuinely happy to get together for a good local cause. That’s the difference between the ‘burbs and a community like this. Now more people know what that means.”


   Photo caption: The yucca are currently nearing peak bloom in the Sierra foothills from 1,000 to 4,000 feet elevation. The perennial shrub, also known as Spanish bayonet or Lord’s candle, grows up to 15 feet in height. The blooms can currently be seen lighting up the hillsides along the Generals Highway and in the upper reaches of North Fork and South Fork drives.

And speaking of flowers, now is the time to take the drive to the Giant Forest as the dogwood are also in full bloom.




William Burger

1967 ~ 2013

   William Pierce Burger of Three Rivers, died Thursday, April 25, 2013, at his home. He was 45.

   A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, May 11, at 11 a.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

   Bill was born on December 31, 1967, in Visalia to Harold Burger and Mary Castiglione. He was raised in Visalia and graduated from Golden West High School. He moved to Three Rivers in 1989.

   He was preceded in death by his father, Harold Dean Burger of Visalia.

   Bill is survived by his mother, Mary Castiglione of Three Rivers; three brothers, Allen Burger of Long Beach, Eric Burger of Visalia, and Jason Castiglione of Visalia; his stepmother, Julie Burger of Visalia; two stepsisters; two stepbrothers; two nieces; and three nephews.

Joyce Cox

1931 ~ 2013

   Joyce Belle Cox of Visalia, died Tuesday, April 30, 2013. She was 81.

   Joyce was born on May 8, 1931, in Rocklin, Calif., to Jesse and Clara Carmichael. When she was 15, the family moved to Three Rivers.

   Joyce attended Woodlake High School and graduated with the Class of 1949.

   On November 11, 1950, she married Jess E. Cox in Three Rivers.  The couple lived in Visalia for 62 years.

   She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Jess, of Visalia; three children, Kathy Cox-Johnston of Visalia, Bill Cox and wife Pam of Visalia, and Jesse Cox and wife Falisha of Tulare; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Kaweah Delta Hospice, 900 W. Oak St., Visalia, CA  93291.


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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