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In the News - Friday, June 4, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)




Woodlake High School graduation

Senior Photos • Scholarships • Awards


Search initiated after collision on Lake Kaweah

  While searchers combed the bottom of murky Lake Kaweah, as of noon on Thursday, June 3, there was still no sign of Mark Burgess. Burgess, 46, who was riding in a 26-foot boat with four others, is still missing after a collision with a personal watercraft.
   The accident occurred Sunday, May 30, at 6:45 p.m. The boat, being driven by a Tulare neighbor of Burgess’s, swerved suddenly to miss the Jet Skiers just outside the no-wake zone in Greasy Cove.
   The five occupants of the boat were ejected; the Jet Skiers, reportedly a father and son, jumped off just prior to impact. Six made it out to safety, but Burgess, who may have been struck by the circling, out-of-control boat, disappeared below the lake’s surface.
   After making several wide circles, the boat beached itself on the north shore of the cove.
   Captain Jim Hinesly, a patrol supervisor for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, was at Lake Kaweah on Monday and explained to the gathering media the methods that the dive team was using to locate the body of Burgess. Both underwater cameras and subsurface sonar profile devices have been used in effort to locate Burgess.
   Capt. Hinesly explained that if an anomaly is located on the sonar screen or sighted as a camera image in the deep water, the submersible robot then grabs hold and brings the object, or in this case the victim’s body, to a level of water where divers can make the recovery. Depths in the area where Burgess disappeared range from shallow to more than 200 feet.
   The search has been hampered by rising water levels and poor visibility. Three Rivers deputy sheriff Albert Brockman was one of the divers assisting in the search.
   On Wednesday, the dive team was called off the search. A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson said divers were having difficulty seeing the gauges that indicate how much air is left in their tanks.
   There have been more than a dozen victims who have drowned at the popular lake since the marina began operations in the 1960s. One middle-aged man died earlier this year when his fishing boat took on water and sank in the lake’s chilly waters.

Prestigious music camp

to kick off inaugural season

Public concerts on the itinerary

  In a community seeking to enhance its identity as a mecca of the arts, the upcoming Center Stage Strings concert series is a coup for Three Rivers because the newly created camp features a series of outstanding concerts. In addition, its virtuoso violinist director, Danielle Belen, is head-over-hills in love with Three Rivers!
   Danielle said she can’t believe how every detail has fallen into place. The camp and its passionate relationship with Three Rivers appear to be destined for success.

  “There is already an electricity building around the camp and the music we will be playing,” Danielle said. “[The camp] will be inspiring for all the musicians and the Three Rivers community.”
   There will be ample opportunity for the community to meet and get to know the 14 musicians who will be participating in the inaugural camp, which will be held June 14 to 20. Nine of the players are prodigy-like students; five are faculty and/or accompanists who are presently or might be described someday as icons of classical music.
   But the star of the camp is its founder, Danielle Belen. The 27-year-old violinist is as passionate about teaching music as she is about performing. Her camp concept borrows all the best from summer camps she has attended to create a hybrid Three Rivers rendition.

  “This year’s camp is definitely violin-heavy but that will change with time,” Danielle said. “Next year, I hope to double the students and the instruments.”
   The expansion is critical to Danielle’s mission as a teacher and to her own camp concept. The camp’s priority is to focus on the student building technique and confidence as a soloist. But the expansion of the instruments and campers will create more chamber music opportunity for teaching and performing.
   The relationship with the Three Rivers community will play a key role in the camp expansion and enduring success. That’s where Bill Haxton, local arts advocate and tapped to be the development director of Center Stage Strings, has stepped up to the plate.
   Bill met Danielle by pure happenstance when Danielle was in Three Rivers visiting her newly relocated parents. After striking a musical chord, Bill realized the classical music camp was an ideal way to place Three Rivers on yet another map of cultural places to visit.
   It was Bill who arranged the venue at Community Presbyterian Church, garnered three scholarships for this year’s campers, and assured Danielle from the outset that this was a marriage made in musical heaven.
   For a natural scenic location, Danielle said, she couldn’t have done better than staging the camp in Three Rivers, where artistry and mountain majesty literally leap out from around every bend in the road.

  “Aesthetically, the church is beautiful and the acoustics are excellent,” Danielle said. “The students will also be practicing and rehearsing at Harrison Hall… it’s the perfect camp venue.”
   The week-long (June 15-20) concert series will feature free student performances on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at Community Presbyterian Church. Saturday’s “Faculty Recital” is the camp’s highlight; admission is $10.
   Tickets for Saturday’s recital are available at Chump’s Videos and DVDs or at the door.
   For more information about the camp, visit www.center stagestrings.com or call Bill Haxton, 561-0300.

Hiker's body discovered in Sequoia

  The body of Larry Christopher Gentry, 55, of Clearwater, Fla., was found in Wolverton Creek by a team of researchers. Gentry’s remains were found off the main trail a short distance from the Wolverton parking area.
   Details were sketchy as to the circumstances surrounding Gentry’s death. Family members described him as an experienced hiker.
A backcountry traveler in the area reported that on Memorial Day there was still plenty of snow in the area. It was possible, according to reports, to still ski on the snow-covered trail from Wolverton to Pear Lake.
   Those snowbound conditions are extremely unusual for the season and may have been a factor in the death of Gentry. The cause of death is pending the coroner’s autopsy.
   In other park incidents, there were two vehicle fires and a concessions employee was injured in a fall over the Memorial Day weekend. No one was seriously hurt in any of the reported incidents.
   The number of available campsites in the local national parks was limited due to the fact that many areas were still snow covered. A total of 25,724 recreational visits was recorded throughout the holiday weekend.

Kaweah Post Office saved... for now

by Brian Rothhammer

  As of June 1, the status of the Kaweah Post Office has been changed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) from that of Community Post Office (CPO) to Delivery Unit.

  “Delivery is continuing; box holders of Kaweah will continue to receive mail there,” said Lori Ontiveros, Three Rivers postmaster. “We have succeeded in preserving the identity of Kaweah 93237.”
   The mail will continue to be delivered to Kaweah Post Office by a USPS highway contractor, but will now be delivered (at about 11:30 a.m.) to a service contractor who is authorized only to distribute the mail and parcel notices to the appropriate boxes. Outgoing mail will be picked up from the old iron mailbox on the porch at 2:30 p.m.
Bright orange “Stamps By Mail” envelopes will be stocked in the lobby for Kaweah’s postage stamp needs.

  “Just fill one out and drop it in the [outgoing] box and it goes to Three Rivers,” Lori said. “The stamps will be in your box the next day.”
   Oversized packages and parcels will be delivered to Kaweah, but brought back to Three Rivers the following day.
   Kathleen McCleary, owner of the century-old eight-by-10-foot building that houses Kaweah Post Office, is the current service contractor. She has been present at the window at the Kaweah station for a few hours each day to ease the transition.
   McCleary will update the public at the town meeting on Monday, June 7.
   Only 44 of Kaweah’s 80 boxes are currently rented. A person does not have to be a Kaweah resident to rent a Kaweah Post Office box. Arrangements for box rentals may be made at the Three Rivers Post Office.

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
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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