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In the News - Friday, May 21, 2010

SPECIAL DELIVERY: The students, staff, and teachers at Three Rivers

School embarked on a multi-faceted campaign this week to save the

Kaweah Post Office. It has been slated for closure at the end of this

month by the U.S. Postal Service.

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.

  “The Postal Service does not intend to renew,” said James Wigdel of the Postal Customer Council on Wednesday, May 19, after indicating that Kaweah was a contract post office.

  “We are working on alternatives to continue delivery to the 46 boxes at the Kaweah Post Office,” he added, “but we cannot release details, as it is not yet finalized.”
   When asked if the Kaweah zip code would be preserved, he replied: “[It’s] too early to tell,” and that it would be “premature to speculate.” The window of the tiny, historic postal station is scheduled to close for the last time on Friday, May 28.
   Or will it? The town of Niles, Calif., fought to save their post office and won. When the citizens of the Fremont-area town heard of plans to close their 1873 post office, petitions were gathered within weeks, numbering 1,600 signatures.
   At a town meeting held January 5, 2010, at Niles Elementary School, postal officials Cedric Brown and Gus Ruiz responded to questions from the public. A senior citizen inquired, “Did you look at how many older people are here? We walk to the post office,” the man reminded officials.
   Niles Post Office still makes money, so “what is the rationale of taking this away from us?” the man asked.
   The response was: “We looked at a lot of things. The majority of post offices around the country don’t make money. They rely on other high-traffic post offices to make the majority of the money.”
   Reggie Ristow, Kaweah postmistress from 1979 to 1988, says of Kaweah: “It’s more than that, it’s history. I love that little place. I don’t like to see things that meant something to somebody go. It’s the heart and soul, and I’d like to see it preserved.”
   Meanwhile, the box holders of Kaweah Post Office ponder what the future might hold but have received no official notification.

  “We’re working on what happens after May 31. As soon as we know, we’ll send a press release,” replied James Wigdel.
   When advised of the deep emotional attachment of local residents to the Kaweah Post Office, Wigdel said, “We totally get that…” Still, financial concerns appear to be driving the decision of the United States Postal Service in regards to Kaweah.
   Congressman Devin Nunes is currently in Washington, D.C. John Gong, constituent representative for Rep. Nunes said he “…cannot speak to the media” on this matter “until it is cleared through the press secretary.” The congressman is expected to release a statement soon.
   In October 2009, another California district — Dimond — saved their post office. In a statement made at a celebration before jubilant citizens, Gus Ruiz commented that the district was impressed by the involvement of the Dimond community, a neighborhood near Lake Merritt in Oakland, in saving their post office.
   The “Save Our Dimond Post Office” campaign gathered 7,015 signatures.
   During their struggle, Dimond was advised by the USPS that “it is local management that is making recommendations to close post offices. There are no definitive studies or criteria… Closures are not a cost-saving measure, but rather an opportunity to look at and change Postal Service infrastructure… There is a set discontinuance procedure; district managers are trained to follow this procedure.”
   The district managers pass their recommendations to U.S. Postal Service headquarters. The decision lies with the Postal Regulatory Commission, which can be contacted via www.prc.gov.
   Among other things, the website tells of a Postal Service proposal to end carrier street address delivery and box collection on Saturdays. It begins: “Dear member of the public, your input is invited.”
   A local newspaper article from 1953 reads, “The Kaweah residents are putting up a stiff resistance to the possible closing of their office, writing to the postmaster general, the senators, and congressmen and even to President Eisenhower…”
   In the 1950s and on a number of occasions since, the old Kaweah Post Office was saved.

  “It is also a historic place,” writes a TRUS fifth grader, adding, “I may be only 11, but I am turning 12... and I know a few things.”
   Are we smarter than a fifth-grader and ready to collectively tackle the task of saving the Kaweah Post Office? Or is it time to let the Postal Service “look at and change” their infrastructure?

SPRING SPORTS 2010


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.

OBITUARY

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.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
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