the News - Friday, May 15, 2009
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
A WORKER CONDUCTS a final inspection of the new boat
ramp at Slick Rock on Wednesday, May 13, where the
first ever user of the facility
a ski boat at 3:30 p.m. User fees will be collected
for day use or $30 for an annual pass.
area also features a parking lot, restrooms,
a year-round volunteer host.
Mother’s Day in Kaweah Country
can be one of the most memorable and pleasant times
of the year. Scores of families gather annually for
one of the first outdoor outings of the season.
But warming temperatures and melting
snow combine to swell the forks of the Kaweah River
this time of the year, and at any of the area swimming
holes or river access places that deadly recipe can
lead to tragedy. Arguably, there is no pain greater
than a mom who suddenly loses a child on Mother’s
On May 11, 2003, an 11-year-old Hanford
boy wandered away from a Mother’s Day picnic
at Hospital Rock. When the boy tried to cross the
narrow river channel below the picnic area, he slipped
on a rock and was swept away by the rushing river.
The frantic family spent all that day
and the next several searching miles of river but
to no avail. The boy’s body was recovered many
weeks later and several miles downstream, but now
the family is haunted every Mother’s Day by
a senseless river tragedy.
Last Sunday, on Mother’s Day, the
unthinkable nearly occurred again but this time the
scene was the Edison swimming hole on Kaweah River
Drive. A large group of an extended Visalia family
was chilling out on the rocks near the popular sandy
beach on the Edison property.
Folks were lounging up and down the river
bank; the Kaweah’s turgid water was far too
chilly and swift to do much more. An eight-year-old
boy was petting a dog at water’s edge when he
slipped into the water and immediately found himself
in the clutches of the powerful current.
The frightened boy began to flail against
the current while calling out for help. Nearby were
Mark Baribeault, 40, and Tim Kenealy, 33, who are
both Three Rivers residents and grew up hanging out
at the river. Mark went in after the boy and grabbed
him before he disappeared into the rapids just downstream.
Almost as fast as it had happened, Tim
was helping pull the rescuer and victim back onto
the safety of the shore. The boy’s family was,
of course, grateful and bought the rescuers a 12-pack
Last week, in a separate incident, an
elderly couple used an inflatable raft to float past
Slicky, currently one of the most dangerous rapids
on the river. According to unconfirmed reports, the
raft was turned upside down and caught in a relentless
The man was able to make it to shore
but the unidentified woman had to be pulled out by
another local who undoubtedly saved her life.
With temperatures forecast to climb into
triple digits this weekend, the river will be swollen
with snowmelt. Everyone should exercise extreme caution
near the wateryways or, better yet, enjoy a whitewater
rafting trip in the company of a responsible professional.
New chief ranger
serious on crime
In these tough times when violence is
an ever present danger and marijuana growers pose
a huge law enforcement challenge, Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks has appointed Kevin Hendricks
as its new chief ranger. Hendricks, who since 2004
has worked at Olympic National Park, served as that
park’s chief ranger since 2006.
But it was the new chief’s 14-year
tenure at Lake Mead National Recreation Area that
was equally impressive on a National Park Service
resume that began in 1987. At Lake Mead, Ranger Hendricks
gained valuable experience while developing the full
complement of ranger skills.
“At Lake Mead we dealt with numerous search-and-rescues
and emergency medicals with multiple fatalities,”
Hendricks recalled. “There was some serious
crime and, in most cases, alcohol was a big part of
Hendricks said when he was growing up
in Fullerton, his first passion was wildlife. As a
student at Brea-Olinda High School he enjoyed hiking
the High Sierra, but like most Southern Californians,
he initially experienced the east side of the range.
After high school he earned an Associate
of Arts degree at Fullerton College then transferred
to Cal where he majored in Zoology. Hendricks earned
a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree from the
In the summers of those college years
he volunteered as a bear tech at Tuolumne Meadows
in Yosemite. In his spare time, he hiked the John
Muir trail in sections while dreaming about a career
in wildlife management where he could work outside.
For the next few years, Hendricks worked
seasonal positions in recreational management and
in the salmon industry in Alaska. He also worked briefly
for the Parks and Recreation Department at the City
of South Lake Tahoe and the Bureau of Reclamation
at New Melones.
In the latter part of 1986, the now aspiring
ranger completed the academy training at Santa Rosa.
In 1987, Ranger Hendricks landed his first seasonal
position at Lake Mead.
“Most rangers enter the service through a seasonal
position,” Hendricks said. “It’s
a good way to see if a ranger has what it takes and
a way for the NPS to evaluate performance.”
That 1987 experience at Lake Mead was
life-changing in a number of ways.
“That’s where I met my wife Nancy,”
For the next couple of years, Hendricks
worked seasonally at Fort Pulaski National Monument,
a coastal Civil War-era historic site south of Charleston,
S.C. The biggest problem there was poaching by hunters
who wandered onto park land.
Ranger Hendricks liked the East Coast
but said he yearned to return west. A permanent ranger
for the previous two years, in 1991 he was able to
transfer back to Lake Mead where he worked for the
next 14 years.
After doing just about everything there
was to do at Lake Mead, Hendricks was promoted to
deputy chief ranger at Olympic National Park, a place
he describes in a category with Sequoia as “spectacular.”
In 2006, at Olympic, he was promoted
to his first chief ranger position.
In addition to the regular ranger activities,
at Olympic he had some unique responsibilities in
overseeing the treaty rights with Native Americans.
“A big factor in Olympic is that these tribal
groups, three of which occupy lands that are totally
surrounded by the national park, must be treated as
separate governments,” he said. “It was
a very interesting part of the job.”
Now at age 49, Sequoia’s new chief
ranger relishes the opportunity of shifting career
“I’ve always loved the Sierra and here
the priorities of the rangers, fire, wilderness, and
the marijuana issue will present new challenges,”
It was also important that Sequoia-Kings
Canyon had a position for wife Nancy, who fit right
into the vacancy as NPS environmental compliance officer.
So in all appearances, these latest transfers to Ash
Mountain will be a good fit in the local NPS family
and a welcome addition to Three Rivers.
Low turnout expected
May 19 election
With only the six budget-related propositions
and no local candidates, Tulare County election officials
are predicting a disappointing turnout in Tuesday’s
special election that may not eclipse 20 percent.
But to state lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Tuesday’s vote is critical because California’s
budget and the challenges of its balancing act hang
in the balance.
Proposition 1A would limit the growth
of government spending. Proponents like the governor
and the California Chamber of Commerce say it will
mandate more fiscal responsibility. Opponents, including
taxpayer groups, say Californians pay enough taxes
already and enough is enough.
Proposition 1B restores $9.3 billion
to schools if 1A passes. Proponents like the California
Teachers Association say the measure would help stabilize
school spending. Opponents like the American Federation
of State, County and Municipal Employees say it’s
not worth the risk because it would force deep cuts
in the event 1A goes down.
Proposition 1C authorizes state officials
to borrow $5 billion from the profits of a revamped
lottery. Proponents say if it doesn’t pass more
cuts will have to come from somewhere. The California
Federation of Teachers who oppose this measure say
it could ultimately cost schools their lottery funds.
Proposition 1D would shift $1.7 billion
away from early childhood programs over the next five
years to help balance the budget. Proponents like
the California Teachers Association say temporary
cuts would prevent deeper cuts. Opponents like the
California PTA say it would deprive children in need.
Proposition 1E Would divert about $400
million over the next two years away from mental health
programs. Taxpayers groups are for the measure; mental
health professionals say no because the damage will
Proposition 1F would prevent pay raises
for legislators and statewide officeholders in deficit
years. Proponents including Gov. Schwarzenegger say
it’s the commonsense approach. Opponents like
the National Association of Social Workers say it
does nothing to fix the budget problem.
TRUS will dedicate
to Maile Peck
In her Neighbor Profile in The Kaweah
Commonwealth on Aug. 23, 1996, Maile JoAnn Peck,
a resident of Three Rivers since she was three years
old, listed her favorite hobby as “being a spectator
at Three Rivers School sports events.”
To that end, Maile (1936-2006) will be
honored by the Three Rivers School Foundation with
the dedication of the school’s baseball field
as the “Maile J. Peck Memorial Field.”
Maile was born in Hawaii, but moved to
Three Rivers with her parents Asa and Ester Peck when
she was three years old. She resided here most of
the rest of her life, graduating from Three Rivers
School and Woodlake High School.
Maile worked as an assistant in the Three
Rivers Library for nearly 15 years. Following that
assignment, she was a volunteer aid at Three Rivers
School for 25 years.
Every child raised in Three Rivers during
that four-decade period knew Maile. In fact, it would
be a safe wager to bet that she had at one time or
another crossed paths with every single resident in
Three Rivers during the time she resided here.
The Poison Oak Men’s Summer Softball
League was one of Maile’s favorite pastimes.
She attended every game.
That is why the TRUS Foundation will
be hosting an event this weekend to name the baseball/softball
field in Maile’s memory. Those who arrive at
4 p.m. will be able to partake in a family softball
game, play tennis, or shoot some hoops while enjoying
complimentary grilled hot dogs, chips, and ice-cold
At 5 p.m., the dedication ceremony will
commence with the unveiling of a sign designating
for posterity the Maile J. Peck Memorial Field. Even
though Maile is no longer with us, this gesture ensures
that, for years to come, the school’s children
and all who participate in or attend games at Three
Rivers School will know that Maile is cheering them
on as she had for so many decades before.
For more information, call TRUS, 561-4466.
These houses are for the birds
“I love trees,” declared Gerald Woody
as we walked in the backyard of his Three Rivers home
on a fine spring day. “Most of the trees here
I planted myself.”
While pointing out a stand of live oaks,
Gerald quipped, “People told me I’d never
live long enough to stand in the shade of those.”
The oaks he planted 20 years ago are now towering
It’s not just the trees that make
it a wondrous place. It’s what Woody has done
Not only did he build his own sturdy
and aesthetically pleasing backyard sheds and workshop,
but from that workshop he has created the fantastic
array of birdhouses and feeders that adorn the garden
paths. At every delightful turn, the visitor is greeted
with Gerald’s meticulously crafted flights of
“I can’t remember a time that I didn’t
work with wood,” said Gerald, and evidence of
his handiwork is everywhere.
Gerald Woody was born in Mansfield, Mo.,
on June 7, 1925, and came to California in 1936. He
lived in Ducor, Lindsay, and Strathmore, which is
where he met his wife-to-be, Ruth. They were married
That same year, Gerald enlisted in the
U.S. Army, serving a stateside hitch until 1947. Since
that time he has lived in Tulare County, raising a
family and operating a 10-acre citrus farm in Exeter
from 1967 to 1989.
“I love it up here, this is where I want to
be,” Gerald said of Three Rivers. “Even
since ‘36 I said that if I’m ever able
to retire, it’ll be in Three Rivers.”
Since June 17, 1989, he has been living
in his Cherokee Oaks home.
Through the 1950s and ‘60s, Woody attended night
school courses at Porterville High School to hone
his woodworking skills while making good use of the
machines and tools there. Starting with a sewing cabinet
for his wife, Gerald went on to build most of their
As with the wonders in the backyard,
a guest at the Woodys’ home finds examples of
his fine craftsmanship throughout. A stately grandfather’s
clock, end tables, cabinets of intricate detail and
innovative design; all crafted by one self-made man.
Local residents may recall a series of
scale-model log flumes that once graced the courtyard
at the We Three Bakery. Those were made by Gerald,
who had asked if they wanted “the water to ripple”
as it flowed through the flumes. They did, so he built
them with riffles like an old gold miner’s sluice
“It’s mostly the birdhouses now and the
feeders,” said Woody of his current work.
In his workshop are several works in
progress. Many of the birdfeeders are styled as miniature
gazebos and are as elegant as they are functional.
Birds may approach and use them from all sides and
find them irresistible.
The birdhouses take many forms, resembling
quaint country houses with a combination of realism
and whimsy. He builds them for friends and family
and also offers some for sale.
Word of mouth has been the usual way
that people have found these avian domiciles, with
several now in the Bakersfield area. One sale was
to a fan in Japan. With recent exposure in a national
magazine, Mr. Woody may soon find himself a bit busier
in the shop.
Of all the birdhouses, perhaps the most
impressive is a multi-room, two-story cabin with dormer
windows, porches, and a stone fireplace mounted on
a thoroughly woodpecker-pecked post. The use of texture
and weathered patina, along with attention to detail
by the craftsman add greatly to the appeal.
Always on the lookout for weathered wood,
Gerald noticed that crews were replacing bird ravaged
telephone poles and asked if he could purchase one.
He was told that they could not be sold, but one was
delivered to his door gratis. Gerald made good use
of the gift.
Keep in mind that Gerald is always on
the lookout for woodpeckered wood and old barn wood.
From these old boards and shingles, Gerald Woody builds
warm, cozy safe homes for feathered friends near and
Ed. Note: Three Rivers resident Marcia
Goldstein alerted us to Birds & Blooms
magazine’s May 2009 issue that included Gerald
Woody in its birdhouse feature, “Home Tweet
Crystal Cave opens for season
Daily tours began Saturday, May 9, at
Crystal Cave, one of Sequoia National Park’s
most popular visitor attractions. Operated by Sequoia
Natural History Association, guided tours of the cave
will be offered through October.
Tickets for the cave tours are not available
at Crystal Cave. They must be purchased at least an
hour-and-a-half in advance at the Foothills or Lodgepole
The cave tour season ended about a month
early last year due to the Hidden Fire that burned
in the vicinity. The fire destroyed the cave’s
electrical system, which is expected to be repaired
by July, but until then visitors will tour the cave
with LED lanterns lining the trail. To further assist
visitors in seeing the cave’s stunning formations,
flashlights will be provided to those groups wishing
to obtain one from the entry booth.
Or better yet, bring your own. The dimmer
lighting will be reminiscent of how the first explorers
of Crystal Cave first experienced it, but a powerful
flashlight will ensure that visitors get their money’s
worth during their excursion.
Crystal Cave was discovered in 1918 by
two fishermen, who were also employees at Sequoia
National Park. The cave opened to the public in 1940.
The tour inside the cave is about a half-mile
in length. The temperature is a constant 50 degrees,
making it the place to be on a hot summer day.
Tickets prices are $11 for adults, $10
for seniors 62 and older, and $6 for children ages
six to 12 (children under six are free). Members of
SNHA receive 50 percent off the ticket prices.
Other tour options are available that
take visitors off the beaten path, literally. Discovery
and Wild Cave tours offer more in-depth exploration.
For more information about Crystal Cave,
As the temperature warms, we tend to
spend more time outside. So it’s important to
be forewarned about melanoma. Melanoma is the most
deadly of all skin cancers, and incidences of melanoma
are doubling every 10 to 20 years.
The lifetime risk of developing melanoma
was 1 in 1,500 in 1935; in 2002, it was 1 in 68. Metastatic
melanoma is one of the most deadly of all malignancies.
In the U.S., the movement of large segments
of the population to warmer climates has resulted
in increased hours spent in the sun, as well as poor
The testing of sunscreens in Australia
found that they reduced the incidence of certain types
of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas),
but led to an increase in melanoma incidence.
This is not that surprising if one looks
closely at how sunscreens work and what causes melanoma
and its increased incidence. It is now known that
sun-induced melanomas are caused predominately by
UVA (one of three types of ultraviolet sunlight rays)
exposure, so it is imperative to seek out a sunscreen
with high levels of UVA protection.
Strategies for lowering the risk of melanoma
and skin cancer:
—Do not sunburn. Sunburn, particularly early
in life, increases lifetime risk of melanoma and skin
cancer development. Monitor children when they are
playing outside. A sunburn can occur after as little
as 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure.
—Apply generous amounts of a quality sunscreen.
Most consumers apply only half of the recommended
—Apply a “broad spectrum” sunscreen,
meaning a sunscreen with high levels of UVB and UVA
—Apply sunscreen to dry skin before going outside.
Sunscreen applied to wet or sweaty skin is not as
—Sunscreens are vital but not foolproof. Use
common sense and wear sun-protective clothing, a hat,
sunglasses, and stay in the shade when possible.
—An SPF15 sunscreen provides two hours of protection
before a burn develops. SPF30 provides four hours
of protection. The current SPF (sun protection factor)
methodology breaks down as a reliable predictor of
burn protection when one reaches an SPF of 30 to 33.
SPF values above this level are marketing gimmicks
and should be avoided. SPFs over 33 are of marginal
additional benefit but have guaranteed higher active
ingredient levels that increase the risk of irritation.
Sunscreens were designed to protect against
the sunburn-producing UVB rays. SPF tells about the
level of UVB or burn protection, but provides no information
about the level of UVA protection.
UVA rays do not cause sunburn, but are
the cause of solar aging and sun-induced melanoma.
Use of a sunscreen with good UVB, but poor UVA protection
will allow someone to stay out in the sun all day
long without burning, but cooking themselves with
This is the Australian paradox. Increase
in sunscreen at the same time as an increase in the
melanoma rate is noted.
Select a sunscreen with a known level
of UVA protection. The gold standard for rating UVA
protection is “critical wavelength.” The
American Academy of Dermatology is recommending that
consumers use products with a critical wavelength
of 370NM or higher.
Sunlight is not all bad as it regulates
our biological clocks and provides essential Vitamin
D. Common sense should be used in regulating time
in the sun.
Three Rivers Cemetery turns 100
by Gary Whitney
May 30, 9 am
The Three Rivers Cemetery project is still alive and
well, and although progress seems to be slow at times,
progress is being made. Over the last year, we have
placed 12 more permanent grave markers and have purchased
We have also started working on some
of the cosmetic needs of the cemetery as well. The
existing storage building has been painted and a landscaped
area has been created near the entryway to the cemetery.
We have planted 14 oaks that were provided
by the Redbud Garden Club through memorial donations.
We are also doing some improvements to the irrigation
This will provide water to the new oaks
until they can make it on their own. It also provides
more convenient locations to access water for those
who place floral arrangements.
Gene Castro’s Tree Service has
completed the pruning of the entire old section of
the cemetery. The new pedestal for the redwood sign
has been completed and the sign relocated to a more
visible location. The sign itself was created by Three
Rivers artist Frank Treuting (1921-2003) in 1963.
Also, a foundation will be poured around
the flagpole to allow for some decorative rockwork
at the base of the pole. The flagpole was erected
by the American Legion-Big Tree Post No. 301 and dedicated
May 30, 1958.
The Three Rivers Cemetery board would
like to thank the Three Rivers Lions Club, Three Rivers
Woman’s Club, the Redbud Garden Club, and the
Three Rivers Community Services District for the continued
We would also like to thank those who
have contributed privately to the project. This generosity
will benefit the community for years and years to
Anyone with a desire to get involved
in the project may contact me at 730-8365 or email
Gary Whitney is on the Three Rivers
Cemetery board of directors. Three years ago this
month, he embarked on a project to place permanent
grave markers on 60-plus previously unmarked graves.
In addition, he has spearheaded additional upgrades
to the cemetery and organized several volunteer workdays
to complete improvements.
The founding of
Three Rivers Cemetery
— 1909 —
FEBRUARY 17— First organizational meeting
MARCH 17— Charles Bahwell sells
community one acre for cemetery for $10. Original
site (Frank Finch property) was rejected by community.
MARCH 24— Site cleared. Originally,
five lots (20 graves) were set aside as a Potter’s
Field for those who could not afford the $2.50 for
MARCH 29— Eight rods set aside
for hitching purposes (from just above the shop to
MAY 27— Lots officially for sale
— $2.50 per plot; $10 for a family plot of four.
Charles Bahwell given a lot for his generous donation
MAY 31— First plots purchased by
J.O. Carter, John Alles, I.C. Mullenix, followed in
June by James Barton and George Cahoon.
DECEMBER 22— Charles Blossom and
Jason Barton donated right-of-way easement to the
cemetery; received one lot each for their gift.
Information compiled by Gary Whitney.
1956 ~ 2009
Rebecca Lynn Turner Barton died Tuesday, May 12, 2009,
at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia after a valiant
year-long battle with cancer. She was 52.
Becky was born Oct. 28, 1956, in Visalia
to Ted and Jeanne Turner. She was raised and educated
in Visalia, graduating from Mt. Whitney High School
On March 28, 1986, Becky married Mark
Barton. The couple built a home in Three Rivers and
moved into it later that year.
For the past several years, Becky was
a self-employed housekeeper in Three Rivers. Her favorite
endeavor, however, was tending her immense garden,
which was a showcase of blooms and foliage, as well
as habitat for any bird, animal, amphibian, or reptile
that wished to visit or reside there.
Becky is survived by her husband of 23
years Mark Barton of Three Rivers; her mother Jeanne
Cote of Visalia; and sister Terri Fisher and husband
Ron of Visalia.
Private services will be held.
1930 ~ 2009
Shirley Nelson Thorn, a longtime resident of Three
Rivers, died Friday, April 24, 2009, in Visalia. She
A memorial service will be held Sunday,
June 7, at 2 p.m., at the Ash Mountain Rec Center
in Sequoia National Park.
Shirley was born April 9, 1930, in Escalon,
Calif., to James and Margaret Nelson. She moved to
Three Rivers in 1950 and was proud to call Three Rivers
“home” for the rest of her life.
Shirley was dedicated to the community
she loved. She was a past president of the Lady Lions
Club, served on the Three Rivers Union School board
of trustees, and had been a Three Rivers Ambulance
Shirley was employed by the National
Park Service in Sequoia National Park for 30 years,
working in various positions until her retirement
in 1992 from the maintenance department, where she
was affectionately known as “Mother Maintenance.”
Shirley was predeceased by her son, Craig
S. Thorn III, and brother James Parker Nelson.
Shirley is greatly missed and adored
by her survivors who include her daughter Kathryn
Montejano and husband Michael of Three Rivers; son
Matthew Thorn and wife Elise of Honolulu, Hawaii;
daughter-in-law Maggie Thorn Loverin; sister-in-law
Jan Nelson; her grandchildren, Heather Stieler, Megan
Thorn, Nicole French, Haley Thorn, Margaret Shelander,
Tucker Thorn, and Maxwell Thorn; and great-grandchildren
Craig Stieler, Kelsi Stieler, Alijah Thorn, Michael
Stieler, Avery Thorn, and Sabine Bousek.
In lieu of remembrances or flowers, the
family requests donations be made to the Three Rivers
Union School Foundation, P.O. Box 99, Three Rivers,