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In the News - Friday, June 12, 2009

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)




Class Photos • Awards


Take one last look or launch a canoe

because the water by Western Holiday Lodge

will only linger awhile longer as the level

of Lake Kaweah begins its downward trend.

Exeter man rescues

three at Horse Creek

  In the chilly waters of Lake Kaweah, sometimes even good swimmers get into trouble. Add alcohol and pitch darkness into the equation, and trouble can change to tragedy in a heartbeat.

  “I always wondered what I would do if I ever found myself in a life-or-death situation,” said Matt Bibey. “The adrenaline takes over and you just do what you have to do.”
   That’s how Lake Kaweah’s latest hero described what he was going through just after 11 p.m. last Saturday. Matt, 28, an off-duty paid-call volunteer firefighter from Exeter, just happened to be on the shoreline near Horse Creek Campground at Lake Kaweah when a potential tragedy started to happen approximately 100 yards offshore from where he, his wife, and two boys were doing some nighttime fishing.

  “I could hear this houseboat partying just offshore from where we were, and there was a male and a female in a loud argument,” Matt recalled. “I was thinking right then I should call the Sheriff’s Department.”
   But the next thing Matt heard was swimmers entering the water, then some frantic splashing and a call for help that at first he thought might be a joke. Matt shined his spotlight on the scene and couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

  “One swimmer was trying to get free from another who was already starting to slip under the surface,” Matt said. “I knew I should enter the water, but not without some sort of flotation device.”
   Next, Matt dispatched his wife to drive far enough down the hill to get cell phone service and call 911. Looking around for a flotation device, he located the next best thing.

  “I emptied my ice chest, jumped in the water, and started paddling out to the struggling swimmers,” Matt recalled. “When I reached them I was able to grab the guy who was in the most trouble.”
   Matt draped the nearly drowned victim over the ice chest while he had two other swimmers, who also had jumped off the houseboat, hold onto the cooler’s handles. It was quite a sight that, due to the darkness, nobody saw — Matt paddling, determined to deliver his quarry safely on shore.
   Within 15 to 20 minutes, Matt had everyone out of the lake and out of danger. He was leaning on his truck still trying to catch his breath when emergency personnel arrived on the scene.
   The rescued declined the services of the fire units and ambulance personnel who arrived on the scene; they were obviously intoxicated and obviously underage. Matt and his rescued victims were all okay and thankful to return home safe on a night at least one off-duty volunteer firefighter and his family will never forget.

Town Hall features updates
before adjourning for summer

   At last Monday’s Town Hall meeting (June 8), Lee Goldstein announced that the Three Rivers Village Foundation will take its annual summer hiatus. So mark your calendars, Lee said, for September 14 — that’s when the informational and sometimes controversial monthly meetings are scheduled to resume.
   The June 8 meeting was of the informational variety and featured updates on an array of topics.
   Arlin Talley spoke on behalf of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, announcing the newly elected slate of officers, which includes Tony Moreno, president; Arlin Talley, vice president; Catherine Launey, secretary; and Chris Schlossin, treasurer.
   Deb Schweizer, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks fire education specialist, and Norma Sosa, interim public information officer, made announcements relative to the summer season in the parks. Sosa said there will be some one-lane traffic delays now that rehabilitation of the Generals Highway near Wolverton has commenced.
   Sosa also indicated that recent marijuana busts just inside park boundaries were at grow sites above 6,000 feet. She said these were the highest elevation sites discovered to date and may indicate that growers are desperately trying to elude detection.
   Lori Ontiveros, Three Rivers postmaster, explained some of the new products and services of the post office. Contrary to what most folks believe, she reported, the post office is not subsidized. The level of service is dependent on local revenue so with declining income, some services like window hours have been cut.

  “When it comes to your local post office it can really make a difference to buy your stamps and postal products locally,” she said.
   Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah general manager, furnished an update on the initial reaction to the new boat ramp. He said things have been running smoothly for the most part.
   The congested traffic on Highway 198 during busy weekends, he said, presents a difficult situation but will not be a factor in a few weeks when the lake level drops. He also announced plans to promote some wellness activities at Lake Kaweah like Frisbee golf and a trail that would encircle the lake’s perimeter.
   Kevin Marks, County of Tulare emergency services coordinator, previewed the county’s new Disaster Preparedness Guide. The 32-page booklet contains useful resources in the event of a disaster.
   Marks also said the reverse 911 system was tested recently and from all indications it is an effective tool to immediately contact all land-based phone lines. Most Three Rivers residents in the audience mentioned that they were not contacted during the initial test of the system.
   More disaster and risk reduction information is available by calling the Office of Emergency Services, 1-888-346-1033.

Water contest winners announced

   In a wacky rainfall season that as recently as June 5 produced .62 inches of rainfall in Three Rivers (the first significant rainfall in June since 2000), the high water marks in the Kaweah River and Lake Kaweah held true to form and occurred within a week or so of where they have for most years in the last 30-year cycle.
   What’s different this year is that THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH asked for serious water watchers and even the not-so-serious to hazard a guess of when those two high water marks might be reached — all for fun and a $50 Gateway Restaurant gift certificate.
   Now that both the Middle Fork and Lake Kaweah are for certain in the throes of their annual downward trend, the winners can be announced.
   The peak flow for the Middle Fork was approximately 2,241 cubic feet per second and that figure was recorded on May 19 at 11 p.m. The winning entry was submitted by Sue Schwarz of Three Rivers — she guessed May 15 at 8 p.m.
   The highest fill level for Lake Kaweah this season was an elevation of 714.36 and that occurred on Tuesday, May 26, at 8 p.m. The winning entry was submitted by David Lowe of Three Rivers, who incredibly guessed May 26.
   Thanks to all who entered, and if you didn’t, be sure you do next year. There’s really nothing to it but to do it.

Twin explosion:

Doubling up at Three Rivers School

by Brian Rothhammer

   Raising kids in the best of times is a challenge, but imagine trying to raise twins. Maybe it’s the water or the country living, but there is an upward trend in the number of twins in town.
   Three Rivers Union School will have four sets of twins enrolled for the 2009-2010 year. In the 2008-09 year there were also four, including recent eighth-grade graduates Elizabeth and Evelyn Lewis.
   Statistically, that’s nearly twice the national average twin birth rate of 322 per thousand. Two of the sets are in the same grade and when school resumes, they will be in the fifth grade.
   Fortunately for Mrs. Jami Beck, the fifth-grade teacher, she’ll be able to tell the twins apart because like all the twins at Three Rivers School, the four fifth-graders are not identical.
   The TRUS twins are commonly referred to as fraternal or dizygotic twins. Identical or paternal twins, the ones that have to wear their hair slightly different to be recognized or who in extreme cases can pass for each other, are monozygotic, meaning from the same ova or egg cell.
   These fraternal twins won’t be doing any corny chewing gum ads or be plagued by the most common stereotypes, but still the parents of these local twins have endured some silly questions over time.
   One parent related that once while she was changing the diapers of her children a neighbor asked: “Are they identical?” while it was obvious that one is a daughter and the other a son.
   With fraternal twins there is no more or less genetic connection than with other siblings; they merely share the same birth date. One set of the Three Rivers twins even came as a complete surprise.

  “The doctors didn’t even know, until the delivery. They rushed around for a time without even telling me what was going on,” said one of the mothers.
   Naturally, the families are delighted with their children, but what about the kids?
   As with any siblings, there are loyalties and rivalries. One mother expressed that her kids do get a bit too much of each other with the same class at school as well as sharing time at home, but just being around these twins for a few minutes, it’s obvious that this bunch consists of happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids.
   For the fall semester, the twins at TRUS are Ramsey and Sophia Vincent (kindergarten), Clayton and Callie Vincent (grade 4), Zafina and Liam McElroy (grade 5), and Eric and Daniel Fireman (grade 5). (The two Vincent sets are not related.)
   Why this high incidence of twins at Three Rivers? Nothing unusual about the parents…. Or is there?
   The highest rate of twinning on the planet is among the Yoruba people of West Africa, and that has been attributed to their diet which is rich in a certain white yam that packs a punch of phytoestrogen. No evidence of excessive consumption of white yams in the local diet.
   However, there is one common thread among the parents and students alike.
   They all seem to like living in Three Rivers twice as much as living anywhere else. That must be it.
   When living in Three Rivers where folks come from all over to vacation, it’s easy to double your pleasure and your fun. Just ask the proud parents of all these twins.


William Stroh
1925 ~ 2009

  William Stroh, a former longtime Three Rivers resident, died Sunday, June 7, 2009, in San Luis Obispo. He was 84.
   Bill was born May 24, 1925, to William and Jessie Martin Stroh in Los Angeles. In 1943, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army, taking basic training at Camp Roberts. He served in World War II and fought on Saipan from 1944 to 1946.
   Returning from the war, Bill moved to Three Rivers where he and his father built the Canyon Lodge Motel (present-day Sequoia Village Inn).
Soon after, Bill went to work at Sequoia National Park, which is where he met his wife-to-be Denelle Perce. They were married on April 17, 1948. Together, Bill and Denelle ran the Canyon Lodge Motel for the next 20 years.
   Bill was highly skilled in construction and his assistance was always in demand. He helped build the Mountaire Motel (present-day Sierra Lodge) and other prominent structures in Three Rivers and Visalia.
In 1958, he designed and built the Stroh family home, located on the river just below the Pumpkin Hollow Bridge.
   Bill worked at Sequoia National Park for 38 years, building lookouts and entrance stations, plowing snow, and fighting fires. He always enjoyed telling stories about his numerous adventures in the backcountry while he was building and maintaining park structures.
   Some of his most cherished memories were the helicopter rides he took to Mount Whitney several times each season to open, maintain, and close the facilities. Bill retired in 1986 as the parks’ maintenance foreman and was honored for his dedicated service.
   During his retirement, Bill volunteered as project manager to oversee the construction of the new Foothills Visitor Center at Ash Mountain for the Sequoia Natural History Association. He served as a director on the boards of the Valley Oak Credit Union and the Three Rivers Cemetery. The current Three Rivers Cemetery sign was hand-carved by Bill.
   Bill and Denelle were inseparable and enjoyed their retirement living alongside the Kaweah River, entertaining family and friends, and traveling. In 2001, they left the Three Rivers home in which they had lived for 43 years and relocated to San Luis Obispo.
   Bill is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Denelle, and their two daughters, Karen Stroh Meers and husband Bill of San Luis Obispo and Kathy Stroh Glenn and husband Chuck of Visalia; grandson Casey Stroh Glenn; step-grandchildren Steven and Ryan Ballew; and step-great-grandson Trevor Ballew.
   A memorial gathering is planned for a future date. In Bill’s memory, the family suggests donations in his name be made to Sequoia Natural History Association, 47050 Generals Hwy. #10, Three Rivers, CA 93271.

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