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In the News - Friday, May 21, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Kaweah Post Office

teetering on brink of extinction


By Brian Rothhammer


  The Kaweah Post Office is not just your ordinary Post Office.

It is a piece of history, an artifact.

We should take the time to learn from it, and not destroy it...

  These are the words of Abbie Friel, a seventh grader at Three Rivers Union School, one of the entire student body of 150 who completed letters to their congressman this week with the hopes that the Kaweah Post Office might be saved from closure by the U.S. Postal Service.
The fate of Kaweah Post Office is, at best, uncertain. See rest of story...



Woodlake High School

student athletes make a splash

   When the new Woodlake swimming pool was completed in 2002, it marked another benchmark in a storied career for Woodlake’s venerable swim coach Craig Baker. Baker announced recently that after 21 years he is stepping aside.
   Baker said he is confident that the timing is right and there’s another coach with a passion for swimming waiting in the wings.

  “I just didn’t want to retire until I knew the program would be in good hands and it appears that it will be with Tammy Range,” said Coach Baker.
   But following Coach Baker will be no easy task. He built an incredibly popular and successful program from summer toddler Tiger Sharks to high school champions. In fact, this year’s high school team marks the culmination of the summer swim program he started 14 years ago.

  “Some of these kids like [senior] Madison Beck were four-year-olds splashing around in the pool while we were working with older siblings,” Baker recalled.
   All that dedication and hard work, and a beautiful new pool, have really paid dividends. In fact, Coach Baker said, this year there were 55 students out for swim team, the most ever enrolled in the WHS swimming program.

* * *

SWIMMING— The Tigers just completed undefeated East Sequoia League seasons in both boys and girls swimming. The boys have won championships for five consecutive seasons; the girls the last four years.
   The girls’ MVP and team captain was Danielle Knapp; the boys’ MVP was Christopher Spahn and team captain was Daniel Mesa.
   Dani Knapp, Emily McFadden, Madison Beck, Lennea Fraser, and Kelsey Ruehling qualified for area championships on May 15; the boys who qualified were Daniel Mesa, Christopher Spahn, Berto Lewis, and John Spahn.

* * *

  JV GIRLS SOFTBALL— According to Coach Sophie Nunez, the team was not especially experienced but what they lacked in skills they made up for in heart.
   Sophie, a 1988 WHS alum, said she hasn’t seen Tiger Pride in a JV team like what this team displayed since the glory days of the mid-1980s. These JV Lady Tigers went 12-6 overall and 10-2 en route to an ESL championship. The team’s new field, completed recently with Measure C bond funds, provided the team with a field of their own and was an obvious source of pride for these Lady Tigers.

  “We were undefeated at home this season and, in one of our biggest wins, Erika Edwards smacked a home run that cleared the fence,” Sophie said. “I can’t ever remember that happening in a JV game.”
Coach Nunez said like any successful softball team, the JVs were led by pitchers Karina Rodriguez and Jessica Carrillo and catcher Vita Rodriguez.

  “These were my outstanding players but the success we enjoyed was a team effort,” Sophie said.

* * *

  VARSITY GIRLS SOFTBALL— The varsity Lady Tigers (seeded No. 8) completed their season Wednesday, May 19, being ousted from the opening round of the sectional playoffs by visiting Bakersfield Christian (No. 9 seed), 3-2. The nail-biter was a difficult loss for the Tigers who faced a tough Bakersfield pitcher who fanned 12 but survived a double by Bridget O’Shaughnessy and a triple by Kaweah Vines of Three Rivers.
   These Lady Tigers finished 14-10 overall and 7-5 in East Sequoia League play.

* * *

  BOYS TENNIS— Under the patient tutelage of Coach Mike Judson, this young but enthusiastic team consisted of a dozen players and continued to show excellent improvement throughout the season. Anchored by No. 1 singles player Nathan Wood (sophomore), these Tigers finished in the middle of the pack in ESL play.
The doubles team of Ramon Hernandez and Joseph Garcia finished third in the ESL tournament.

* * *

  TRACK— The 2010 season marked huge strides for Tiger runners who competed in several new events for the first season since the recent revival of a track program. Some of the credit for the resurgence must go to Coach Tony Ramirez.
   Coach Ramirez is anticipating the day when his Tiger harriers can circle Robinson Field on a new state-of-the-art, all-weather track. That project, earmarked for Measure C funds, awaits some matching grants that will see the new track installed by 2011 or soon thereafter.
   No sport at Woodlake is more dependent on getting some upgraded facilities to attract new participants. This season, without the benefit of being able to stage home meets, the boys earned third place at the East Sierra League championship meet.

  “This was a huge improvement over last year’s sixth-place finish,” said Coach Ramirez. “We missed second place by just two points.”
   The team also earned their first team trophy at the McFarland Invitational with a second-place finish — and they did it without any athletes to compete in five of the meet’s contested events.
   Four-year varsity letterman and senior Ben Rothbaum of Three Rivers medaled in every meet and was league champion in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes. He placed fourth in the 100 meters at the Sierra-Sequoia Championships with a time of 11.39; in the 200 he placed fifth.
   Connor Beck, a sophomore from Three Rivers, won the high jump at the league meet in the frosh/soph division. Juan Tovar tossed the shotput 42 feet, 1 inch, for a personal best.
   Senior Philip Dixon of Three Rivers posted personal bests in the mile (4:58) and in the 800 meter run (2.07).
   Among the girls, Meg Johnson of Three Rivers finished second at the league championships in the high jump. Phoebe Castro, also of Three Rivers, turned in some outstanding times in the 100 and 200 meters.

  “I’m very proud of these kids on this squad,” Coach Ramirez said. “They come in with zero knowledge of these events and take a rewarding journey with me as they learn each event and set personal bests.”

* * *

  JV BASEBALL— These Tigers finished 8-7-1 overall and 4-5 in ESL play. According to Coach Monte McKean, Daniel Keeley (pitcher, catcher) of Three Rivers was the team’s most consistent player. Jim LeFave, also of Three Rivers, was the team’s outstanding hitter while Phillip Woods (Three Rivers) and Francisco Barrientos (Woodlake) helped bolster the pitching staff.


Robert R. Johnson
1941 ~ 2010

   Robert R. Johnson passed away at his home in Three Rivers on Thursday, May 13, 2010. He was 68.
   Bob was born August 22, 1941, in Priscilla, Miss., to Perry and Ethel Johnson. He grew up in Texas, but moved to California, eventually settling in Exeter and, later, Three Rivers.
   In 1997, Bob retired from Sequoia Pacific Systems Corporation in Exeter. He was an active member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles-Exeter for many years, where he was a life member and former lodge president.
   Bob was an avid NASCAR fan and enjoyed fishing, but his true passion was his family.
   Bob’s in-laws are the late Harold Yardley and Roberta Yardley (1927-2000). Bob resided with his wife Terry in the former Yardley home.
   Roberta was a postmistress at the Kaweah Post Office for 10 years. Bob assisted her in the operation of the historic post office.
Bob could often be seen during his daily shopping trip to Village Market and Three Rivers Drug. He enjoyed chatting with the employees and customers.
   Bob was preceded in death by his son, Hank Johnson.
   He is survived by his wife Terry Johnson of Three Rivers; daughter Lynn Johnson of Pomona; stepdaughter Kim Hagler-Auernheimer of Nashville, Tenn.; son Robert D. “R.D.” Johnson of Mason, Texas; stepsons Bill Hagler of Danville, Va., and Tom Hagler of Three Rivers; 18 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and a large blended family, all of whom were very dear to him.
   At Bob’s request, there will be no services. Condolences may be sent to the family at: P.O. Box 1, Kaweah, CA 93237.

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