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In the News - Friday, JUNE 2, 2006


The Kaweah River's Middle Fork during Spring 2006 runoff.



Camper plucked from river

   In what’s becoming an all to familiar scenario, an Orange County man had to be rescued from an island in the middle of the Kaweah River last weekend. The call for assistance came at approximately 12:40 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, during the busy Memorial Day holiday period.
   Swiftwater rescuers from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) personnel were able to reunite Dehdrel Madrigal, 31, with his family at about 2 p.m. The Santa Ana man, a guest at Kaweah Park Resort, had been warned by resort staff not to enter the water.
   Madrigal chose to risk his life and float the waste-deep water in an inner-tube. Once in the powerful current he immediately capsized and lost the tube but managed to get to an island in the middle of the channel.
   CDF Battalion Chief Mike Davidson said Madrigal did a smart thing by waiting for rescuers to mobilize. When they attempted to throw him a rope to pull him back across the channel he admitted he was too exhausted and might not be able to hold on.
   Swiftwater technicians then entered the water and transported a life vest, helmet and lifeline to the island where the victim was waiting.
   With the aid of the secured lifeline, rescuers were able to assist the man back to shore.
   The Kaweah Park Resort location has been the scene of several dramatic rescues. Several years ago, William Shatner of Star Trek fame, happened on a rescue at the same location while on a whitewater rafting trip with family members.
   Shatner, with help of his guide, was able to maneuver his raft to a position where the victim could be pulled from the water and onboard his raft.
   On that occasion it was not necessary for any personnel to enter the dangerous current.

  “We’ve been fortunate this season because the cooler weather has kept some potential victims from entering the water,” said one rescuer. “With the warmer temperatures in the forecast, however, it’s inevitable that we will have more incidents.”


Marines make assault

on the Kaweah

   A detachment of 20 Marines was in Three Rivers this past Memorial Day weekend and the battles they waged on Saturday were with some outstanding Class IV rapids on the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. They were here as guests of the Bruce and Patricia Turner family, who have lived in Three Rivers for nearly 30 years.
   One of the Marines, Steve Turner, a staff sergeant who is the grandson of Bruce and Pat, suggested Three Rivers as an ideal place for some rest and relaxation for his fellow members of the H-1 Upgrade Operational Test Team. All the members of Turner’s company are career Marines stationed in Southern California, the majority of whom have recently served in Iraq.

  “The whitewater rafting trip was absolutely amazing and proved to be a challenge for some of the toughest Marines around!,” reported Staff Sgt. Turner.
   Diana Glass, a local agent with Century 21, furnished dinner for the Marines at Pizza Factory after their day on the river. In addition to the rafting trip with Kaweah Whitewater Adventures, on Sunday, the contingent visited Moro Rock, the General Sherman Tree, Halstead Meadow, and Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park.

  “We salute you for your warm hospitality, Three Rivers,” said Staff Sgt. Steve Turner. “The chow we had at Pizza Factory, We Three Bakery, and Serrano’s was excellent. No mess hall ever fed us so well. We are all grateful for a Memorial Day weekend we will always remember.”


Archaeology unearthed

   UC Berkeley anthropology students, with help from some local Three Rivers volunteers, are getting down and dirty in another field season at the Advance site on North Fork Drive. The historic location of one of the prominent Kaweah Colony road camps has been located by the team and is yielding a trove of small things forgotten including square nails, ceramics, glass, and most recently, a machine part that might tip researchers to industrial activity at the site occupied ca. 1890.
   On Monday, June 5, Stacy Kozakavich, project director, Ph.D. candidate, and U.C. instructor, will reveal the team’s most recent findings and introduce the volunteers who have been assisting in the fieldwork. The archaeological program will feature a digital media presentation, highlighting Stacy’s several years of research on the history and archaeology of utopian colonies.
   The actual site of Advance is located near the present-day BLM recreation site by the same name. But the archaeological research is demystifying some of the site’s lore and its socialist utopian inhabitants who were eventually thwarted by the federal government in their attempts to cut timber in the vicinity of the Giant Forest.
   The program will be held at the Three Rivers Arts Center on North Fork Drive at 7:30 p.m. and is being sponsored by The Kaweah Commonwealth, not coincidentally the name of the colony’s historic newspaper. Admission is free and everyone is invited.

Men’s softball sets

summer schedule

   In Three Rivers, summer just wouldn’t be the same without those hot nights and the even hotter Poison Oak League softball action. League play is set to begin in the men’s slow-pitch league Sunday, June 11, with a customary evening of short-format practice games scheduled for Wednesday, June 8.
   A special managers’ draft of new players, or returning players who want to apply to change teams, will be conducted June 6. In order to be eligible for the draft, players must have completed the eighth grade, live or work in Three Rivers, and register via any of the sign-up sheets posted around town.
   During a managers’ meeting held last Sunday, a 16-game schedule with a post-season tournament similar to what was in use last year was approved for 2006. Each of the five teams meet four times during the regular season. The post-season consists of a double-elimination tournament.
   Jim Vines, activity director, said the Three Rivers Recreation Committee is offering to finance some improvement to the League’s field at Three Rivers School. The offer is being extended because men’s softball, first organized in the 1970s, has consistently shown the most profit of any of the commission’s activities.
   League games will be played Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights. The fee per player is $25.
   For more information, call 786-0733.

Industrial arts training

offered to teens

   Sierra Forge & Fire, located in the historic Waterman foundry in Exeter, will be holding a series of summer workshops for teens. Skills taught will be forging, bladesmithing, glassblowing, and bronze casting. Steve Crigler of Three Rivers will be assisting interested teens in fundraising for all costs associated with attending during the weekend of July 21 to 23. A meeting will be held Thursday evening, June 8. Call for more information: 561-4439.


1913 ~ 2006

   Bernardine Susan Bettendorf Wollenman, a resident of Three Rivers for 59 years, died Tuesday, May 23, 2006, at her home. She was 93.
   Bernie was born Feb. 21, 1913, in Chicago, Ill., to Nicholas and Elisabetha Bettendorf. She was raised in Anaheim, graduating from Anaheim High School in 1931.
   In 1933, she married her high school sweetheart, John Wollenman. They resided in Lancaster and Fullerton prior to moving to Tulare County.
   In 1947, the couple built their home in Three Rivers and lived there for the rest of their lives. Her grandchildren continue to manage the citrus and olive ranch (today, JNJ Farms) that the Wollenmans founded near Lindsay.
   Bernie was a member of the St. Clair’s Altar Society, Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, Redbud Garden Club, Three Rivers Lady Lions, Three Rivers Woman’s Club, Three Rivers Travel Club, and the Three Rivers Senior League. She was also the organist for St. Clair’s Catholic Church for many years and had a large organ in her home that she would play for friends and family.
   Bernie was instrumental in the founding of the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance service in Three Rivers. Her grandson, John, has followed the tradition, serving as an ambulance volunteer for nearly 20 years.
   Bernie enjoyed tending her beautiful garden, cake decorating, tole painting, candle-making, and needlework. She was a great hostess and threw many wonderful parties and dances on their river-view patio. She and her husband, John, loved to travel together, especially aboard the Mississippi River steamboats.
   Bernie was preceded in death by her husband, John Wollenman, and sister Agnes Keefer.
   She is survived by her son, Jimmie Wollenman; daughter Barbara Delgado of Three Rivers; three grandchildren, Nikki Gibler, Jody Hanggi, and John Hanggi; and five great-grandchildren, Daniel, Gwen, Jennifer, Cassandra, and Courtney; one great-great-grandchild, Ethan; and several nieces and nephews.
A service was held last week at St. Clair’s Catholic Church with burial at the Three Rivers Cemetery.

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