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In the News - Friday, May 31, 2013



ONLY IN THE MAY 31, 2013,


Woodlake High School: Spring Sports Teams 2013




Three Rivers solar facility goes online

    An event of historic proportions occurred in Three Rivers on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at 4:47 p.m., and went largely unnoticed. That was the precise moment when the first CREST (California Renewable Energy Small Tariff) solar generation facility in Three Rivers went online.
     The 48 dual-axis pivoting arrays that have occupied the Pierce Drive site for the past year are capable of generating 331,200 kilowatts of renewable energy. That’s enough power to potentially supply 25 percent of all the electricity used by the residents and businesses of Three Rivers.
     The firing up of the highly anticipated facility is significant because, according to a statement released by Marinos Ventures, LLC, earlier this week, because this is the first active dual-axis solar generation facility in Southern California Edison’s (SCE) service area of more than five million utility customers.
     Each array has sensors that detect the optimal angle of the sun as it rotates overhead. As the sun moves westward, the decks of solar panels pivot to capture the maximum energy available.
     The CREST program is available to California electrical retail customers who want to sell renewable energy back to the utility company. The caveat is that the facility cannot generate more than 1.5 megawatts.
     These relatively small photovoltaic installations are currently the only generating facilities being permitted to operate in Tulare County because the infrastructure needed by the larger solar farms simply does not exist. The Three Rivers project is located on a five-acre parcel that was formerly part of the Bullene vineyards and adjacent to the Innovative Structural Glass, Inc., facility that was previously the winery building.
     In all, the solar generation facility took nearly three years to complete from planning to operation. The contractor used to build the project was ISG, Inc., of Three Rivers, an electrical company also owned by Manuel and Cynthia Marinos.
     Activities leading up to the facility going online were a family affair. Son Michael and daughter Caitlin scrubbed the arrays, an essential part of the ongoing maintenance to keep the solar panels fully operational.
     Manuel, their father, did the tractor work and on-site clearing of weeds and debris that accumulated under the arrays. Cynthia, business partner, wife and mom, handled the contracts and the financing.
     Funding for the solar generation facility was provided by the Bank of the Sierra. The impetus for the project was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allows a 30 percent tax grant incentive for renewable energy projects like the Three Rivers Solar generation facility.

Brush fire sparked by downed power line

    A brittle tree branch that broke, then fell and snapped a power line was the apparent cause of a grass fire that broke out along Kaweah River Drive. The fire at 42894 Kaweah River Drive was reported at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 26.
     The blaze started near a residence and charred some vegetation and a fence, but jumped the road and was burning in dry grass just up-canyon from the former Sierra View Catfish Farm when the first fire unit arrived on the scene. The blaze, which was contained to about a tenth of an acre, was extinguished quickly by firefighters.
     The falling tree branch also knocked out a telephone line. Dozens of area residents were without power, phone service, and Internet for several hours.
SCE and AT&T line crews had the power and most of the phone service restored by 5 p.m. that same evening.
     Illegal campfire— Last week, in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park, a family hiking near Big Stump encountered an out-of-control but smoldering fire. They reported their discovery and fire crews contained the fire’s spread to an eight-foot-square area.
     It was determined that the fire was most likely caused by someone camping outside of the designated campgrounds, which is not permitted within the national park boundaries, and having an illegal campfire, which obviously was not extinguished properly when the illicit occupants moved on.
     To avoid having a campfire spread to the surrounding terrain, never leave the fire unattended. If leaving the campsite or going to sleep, douse the fire with water and stir it to make sure it is cold to the touch.

Smoky mountains

    On Wednesday, May 29, a plume of smoke billowed skyward from the Ash Mountain area of Sequoia National Park where fire crews are in the midst of a series of prescribed burns to reduce hazard fuels and wildfire risk. The Sierra foothills region is especially dry this year due to a significant lack of precipitation last winter. Fire restrictions in effect: As a result, the local Park Service has implemented fire restrictions below 6,000 feet elevation, which basically means no change for campers who are only allowed to have fires in designated campgrounds year-round anyway, but backcountry users are now prohibited from having fires when below this elevation level.

Visit Sequoia without leaving the couch

    Nature Valley, a subsidiary of corporate giant General Mills, is attempting to live up to its name by launching a “Trail View” website, which gives deskbound outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to take a virtual hike through a foursome of America’s national parks: Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone and, as of last month, Sequoia-Kings Canyon. The website, which employs technology similar to Google’s Street View, allows virtual explorers to embark upon more than 300 miles of trails.
     Sequoia is best known, of course, for its namesake trees, and now anyone, anywhere, at anytime can take a virtual stroll amid the Big Trees. Moro Rock, Pear Lake, General Sherman Tree, and Zumwalt Meadow and Panorama Point (Kings Canyon National Park) may all be accessed with the click of a mouse.
     Take a hike without the blisters and mosquitoes at www.naturevalleytrailview.com.

Spring sports at WHS: A season to remember

    The spring sports season at Woodlake High featured lots of milestones, first-ever achievements, and requires plenty of superlatives to describe the season-long performances of the student athletes. But perhaps the most enduring accomplishment of the season was the dedication of the new track at Leo Robinson Field.
     On Tuesday, May 28, school district officials, civic leaders, boosters, students, and parents gathered in the new home-team bleachers to celebrate the completion of another part of Measure C – the $4.5 million facility renovation bond that was passed in 2008.
    “What began five years ago after the passing of Measure C is finally becoming a reality,” said Drew Sorensen, Woodlake Unified School District superintendent. “I want to thank Woodlake, Three Rivers, and Seville — the Woodlake High School community — for all their support in getting this project done.”
     Some school board members, past and present, were introduced and several other dignitaries came forward including Frank Ainley, longtime WHS teacher, coach and athletic director now retired who is also a Woodlake High alumnus, and Mary Lou Robinson, wife of the late Leo Robinson, Woodlake High’s legendary football coach. The field that includes the track is named for Mary Lou’s iconic husband who coached for 41 years at Woodlake High.
     Wayne Hardcastle, WUSD board member, was given the honor of cutting the ceremonial ribbon launching a new era in Woodlake sports. One of the most far-reaching effects of the stadium improvement will be the community’s use of the state-of-the-art, all-weather track.
     The Woodlake Police Department will work with the school district to patrol and enforce the rules for the public’s use of the new track. Currently, runners and walkers are permitted on the track on weekends from 5 a.m. to dark.
     If the experience of other communities that have upgraded the sports facilities is any indication, a new track and stadium inspire student athletes to achieve a higher level in their respective sports, and the community gets a boost in overall fitness and health.


    VARSITY BASEBALL— Raul Quintero’s Tigers boys’ baseball team did something this season that hasn’t been done at Woodlake since 1987: they won a league championship.  They were led by East Sequoia League MVP Eddie Pena, a sophomore pitcher who is only going to get better. Pena, who lives in Woodlake but has family ties in Three Rivers (his dad, Eddie; grandmother, Robin Harris Pena; and great-grandmother, Bobbie Harris all graduated from Three Rivers School), was joined in ESL all-league first team honors by teammates Zac Fesperman (infielder), Wesley Stevenson (infielder), Cade Headrick (outfielder), and Jaykob Rodriguez (outfielder).
     The team finished 15-9 overall and an ESL best of 11-3.
    “After so many years of struggling to win a game or two, it’s amazing to be a part of a Woodlake team on top,” said Raul Quintero, WHS coach and athletic director. “This is a great group of guys, and only losing three seniors we expect to be even better next year.”
     JV BASEBALL— The JVs featured five players from Three Rivers: Terran Brown, Sage Davis, Thomas Woods, Eric Schwarz, and Tyler Jones. The more youthful Tigers, coached by Joe Castillo, finished with 7 wins and 8 losses overall.
     VARSITY SOFTBALL— New head coach Adrian Corrales knew this would be rebuilding year while he installs his new program but the results were extremely encouraging.
    “I coach year-round with school softball and a couple of travel teams,” said Coach Corrales. “My goal this year was to give the girls more playing time and teach them to be aggressive at the plate and in the field.”
     The Lady Tigers finished fourth in the ESL and missed qualifying for Valley playoffs by a single game. The team’s MVP and all-league first team was senior pitcher Karina Rodriguez.
     Other first team honorees included Regina Ramirez, catcher; and Shanya Weller, utility player.
     JV SOFTBALL— The junior Lady Tigers, under the tutelage of Coach Tori Johnson, finished with a record of 10-6. Kassandra Rodriguez was named MVP; most improved players were Alexandra Torres and Kathryn Castillio; most inspirational player was Claire Hamm of Three Rivers.
     SWIMMING— The girls won the ESL title for the 12th consecutive year. In recent years, the coaches have wondered how that might happen for yet another season and again the core group of team leaders steps up, inspires the rest of the team, and gets the job done.
    “These girls were the ultimate swimmers, role models, and they swam every single set and never complained,” reported Coach Mary Leinsteiner. “The boys were more a story of quality over quantity.”
     MVP swimmers and team leaders were all seniors; Joee Denis and Irene Ortiz for the girls team, and Alex Gray (Three Rivers) and Nate Mesa for the boys.
     Newcomer frosh swimmer Monte Vincent of Three Rivers was impressive at the divisional meet, finishing 14th in the 100-meter freestyle. She was the only Woodlake swimmer to qualify for the Division 2 meet, held this year in Tulare.
     GOLF— The Tiger golf team finished their quest for a three-peat with another undefeated season in ESL play. Ryder Rochin, a junior, also finished as the ESL individual champion for the third consecutive year.
     Rochin will play Saturday, June 1, at the Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena where he will compete for the Southern Section crown. Rochin is the first Woodlake golfer to compete for a sectional championship.
     TRACK— The Tiger harriers turned in some impressive performances though it was a challenging season with the ongoing construction of the new track and lack of any home meets. The completion of the new track will vastly improve the numbers of runners who come out for the team and predictably the individual performances.
     Assistant coach Tony Ramirez helped out with the distance runners and called his group “a perfect example of a blue collar squad.” What they lacked in experience they made up for with hard work.
     Sotero Silva, a frosh runner, ran personal bests of 5:03 and 11:11 in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, respectively. Jennica North, a junior from Three Rivers, ran 5:59 and 13:41 personal bests in the same events for the girls.
     Outstanding sprinters and running mates who scored the most team points were the sister-and-brother tandem of Kianna and Eli Cunningham. Kianna, a sophomore, competed in the 100, 200, long jump, and several relays.
     BOYS’ TENNIS— The Tiger tennis program continues to make steady progress under second-year coach Scott Wood. Overall, the team had a winning record in league matches.
No. 1 and No. 2 players were seniors Sal Almarez and Ivan Ortega.

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