News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

In the News - Friday, JUNE 16, 2006


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

Four-car pileup

at Slick Rock

injures seven

   When the newly-enlarged Lake Kaweah is full to the brim it is an alluring, scenic attraction. Unfortunately, when the high water is virtually lapping at the roadway, it can also be a powerful distraction.
   Evidently, it was a distracted driver who proved to be the cause of a chain-reaction accident that occurred Tuesday, June 13, about 5 p.m., at the entrance to the now-submerged Slick Rock Recreation Area. The scenario at the seasonal Slick Rock road, which currently is an extremely busy and crowded place to take a dip in the lake, began with two eastbound vehicles waiting to make a left turn into the miniscule parking area near the water’s edge.
   A third vehicle, a 1989 Chevrolet pickup driven by Louie Jose, 17, of Visalia, failed to see the stopped vehicles and rear-ended the second stopped motorist, Whitney White, 19, of Visalia, who was driving a 1991 Honda. The impact of the crash caused Jose to veer into the westbound lane and crash head-on into a 2006 Pontiac being driven by David Alford, 33, of San Luis Obispo.
   The first vehicle that was waiting to turn, a 1997 Toyota SUV driven by Sack Rithiphong, 19, of Visalia ended up on top of the driver’s side of the Pontiac. Rithiphong’s injuries were described in the CHP report as moderate.
   Jose received only minor injuries as did White and the two passengers in the Honda.
   Alford, the driver of the Pontiac, suffered major injuries and was airlifted by helicopter to the University Medical Center in Fresno. A 63-year-old passenger in Alford’s vehicle was transported by ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. The extent of his injuries is not known.
   Lake Kaweah officials and the California Highway Patrol are advising that all motorists use extra caution in the vicinity of Lake Kaweah, especially during the next few weeks of high water. There is very limited parking, lots of visitors who are unfamiliar with the road, and pedestrians are in the highway’s shoulder areas and crossing the busy thoroughfare near boat ramps and fishing spots.

Arsonist ignites

grass fires

along highway

   There’s a firebug on the prowl again, lighting grass fires along Highway 198 in the vicinity of Lake Kaweah. The latest incidents have local firefighters very concerned.

  “Roadside fires like these are common but when you have two separate fires at the same time in the same area, that’s very suspicious,” said Captain Steve Green, a CDF firefighter stationed in Three Rivers.
   The most recent spot fires that were ignited on Wednesday, June 14, and quickly contained are similar to fires started in the vicinity on October 13, 2005. Those fires were started on the south side of the roadway and no one was ever arrested in the case.
   These recent blazes were on the opposite side of the road. It appears from the time the fires were reported that a person or persons heading westbound first started the Three Rivers blaze on the Stivers property across from the intersection of Sierra and Pierce drives. Within 10 minutes, another fire was reported just west of the entrance to the Horse Creek campground.
   That blaze, on federal property, was reported at 2:19 p.m. and quickly knocked down by a crew from Mountain Home working on fireline nearby.
   In addition to the Three Rivers engine, firefighters also responded from Woodlake and Springville. A CDF crew remained at the scene of both fires until 5:30 p.m.
   Anyone with information in the case should call the CDF fire-prevention officer, 732-5954.

Caltrans reviews

‘Kaweah Scenic Highway’ plan

   A scenic highway designation for Three Rivers has taken another step toward completion. That’s the word from Tom Sparks of the Three Rivers Village Foundation.
   Sparks said that the update on the project that his group has been working on for more than a year was one of the highlights of the agenda at the recent Town Meeting, held Monday evening, June 12, at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

  “Caltrans now has the resolution package, so shortly we should be hearing if there is anything left to do,” said Sparks. “The county staff and those officials from the Fresno office of Caltrans have been very supportive so we don’t anticipate any problems.”
   The package included an official resolution in favor of the designation by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors with an endorsement from the Tulare County Planning Commission. Letters from Supervisor Allen Ishida and Tom Sparks on behalf of the Three Rivers community were also included.
   Sparks said the supporting material was submitted as a cover to the documentation prepared by the Village Foundation. Among those documents were a visual assessment of the 16-mile Highway 198 corridor from Lake Kaweah to the Sequoia National Park boundary, a summary of the county’s applicable regulations, and three maps. The maps show the corridor’s topography, prominent features of the three segments, and also the small percentage of visual intrusions.
   The “blue pig” that is being stored on a property adjacent to Sierra Lodge was also discussed as to its implications for the project. According to a Caltrans official, the mobile sculpture, which was created for display at last year’s Burning Man Festival in Nevada, could be considered as a visual intrusion but it is not within the scope of the project to require its removal.
   To date, the Three Rivers Village Foundation has jumped through all the necessary hoops to obtain the scenic highway designation.

  “I think you will see that our project will end up being an example for other communities to do the same thing,” Sparks said. “When this one is a done deal, we would certainly be able to assist those who want to follow our lead.”
   Supervisor Allen Ishida, who was also present at the meeting, fielded several questions relating to development that may affect the foothills. One project that was discussed was an expansion of the lots that are being offered for sale in South Fork Estates.
   The bottom line for any growth in the foothills is water, Ishida said. In this case, a new community well is being proposed to meet the immediate needs of any new homes to be located in the area.
   In other county-related business, on Wednesday, June 14, the Tulare County Planning Commission received its initial monitoring report of the local dairy industry since new animal-confinement regulations were adopted in 2003. The report, compiled by Joe Phillips of the Code Compliance Division, contained some very interesting statistics.
   According to information presented in the report, there is approximately the same number of milk cows (414,028) as people in Tulare County. The report also stated that there are more than a million tons of manure being recycled annually with 133,836 acres of cropland receiving wastewater or manure.
   The total number of operating dairies in Tulare County is 318, plus or minus a few that did not file the required information or may no longer be operating. Phillips cautioned that the data is only as accurate as the information provided by the dairymen.
   New dairies coming into the South Valley are being encouraged to locate between Highway 99 and Interstate 5.

TRUS student receives

State Science Fair award

   Each February, all seventh and eighth grade students at Three Rivers School are required to submit a science project. The completed projects, which are to utilize scientific method (hypothesis, experiment, results, conclusion) and be accompanied by a report and a display board, are graded by the teachers and judged by a volunteer team of Sequoia National Park scientists.
   The top projects then advance to the Tulare County Science and Engineering Fair. This event is held each March with all projects on display for a week at the Sequoia Mall.
   The county projects are judged by educators and other professionals with a select few then continuing onto the state level of competition. This is where Katie Keeley, a seventh-grader at Three Rivers School, and Ben Pfenninger, a TRUS eighth-grader, found themselves on May 22 and 23.
   They were among the 967 participants from 390 schools throughout the state who were competing for more than $50,000 in awards at the 55th annual California State Science Fair in Los Angeles.

  “We felt truly optimistic about the future of our society realizing how bright, industrious, and ingenious so many kids are,” said Melanie Keeley, Katie’s mom.
   Less than a dozen Three Rivers kids have ever even qualified to attend this prestigious event. Katie is just the third local student to be recognized with an award.
   Katie received the MUSES Special Award, a $1,000 award presented to a junior high school female for achievement in science or math. The MUSES organization is a major benefactor of the State Science Fair, founded in 1962 by wives of the Science Center Foundation members.
   Katie’s project studied the germination habits of Sierra Nevada vegetation, both native and non-native. She used varying temperatures and degrees of light to determine which factors affected growth of several species of plants.
   In 2002, Soukarana Stephens, then an eighth-grader at TRUS, won third place in the Social Sciences category at the State Science Fair for his project entitled “Remarkable Memories: Comparing the Memories of Literate and Non-literate People.”
   In 2000, Anna Birch of Three Rivers, who was an eighth-grader at Wilson Middle School in Exeter, won the MUSES award for her water-quality project that asked “Which of the Three Rivers — North Fork, South Fork, or Middle Fork — Has the Highest Bacteria Count?”

3R dancers on stage

   The Sierra Performing Arts Center will present two separate dance productions next weekend, each featuring the dancing of several Three Rivers girls.
   On Saturday, June 24, the troupe will present “Dick Tracy: A Dancing Detective Story.” This will be a jazz/modern rendition of the old detective story that is sure to rock.
   On Sunday, June 25, “Peter Pan: A Story Ballet” will include all of the traditional characters as they dance their way through Neverland. Dancing the lead of Peter Pan will be Meaghan Swinney of Three Rivers.
   Other dancers from Three Rivers are Anna Adaska, Hillary Crouch, Julia Ehrlichman, Selena Swanson, and Sierra Swinney. All will perform different characters in both productions.
Susan Pallas is the director and choreographer of the productions. She is the owner/operator of Sierra Performing Arts Center in Visalia.

  “She is a true hidden treasure of the South Valley,” said Rachelle Ledbetter, whose daughters Meaghan and Sierra Swinney have been Susan’s students for several years. “She has over 35 years experience in developing pre-professional dancers.
   Both shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the L.J. Williams Theatre in Visalia. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $10 from Meaghan and Sierra, 561-3266, or the Sierra Performing Arts Center, 627-8277.

Six dogs graduate

from training school

   The Assistance Service Dog Educational Center in Woodlake graduated six golden retrievers Friday, June 9. All six dogs graduated with the title of “Assistance Service Dog,” which is the highest standing they can achieve.
   The dogs and their trainers, who are Woodlake High School students, were recognized at the ceremony. The dogs received diplomas; the trainers received certificates of completion for their two-year commitment to the program.
   The six dogs are now ready to be placed with clients who require the services of an assistance service dog. Those in need of a dog or who want more information about the nonprofit ASDEC may call 564-PAWS.

Interpretive walks:

Trail of 100 Giants

   Each Saturday and Sunday, beginning this weekend and continuing through August 6, guided walks will be led along this famous trail located in the Giant Sequoia National Monument east of Springville. The one-mile walks will begin at 2 p.m. on a paved trail in the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoias.

  Take Hwy. 190 east to Ponderosa and continue 20 more miles to the south. The parking area is located on the Western Divide Highway just south of the Redwood Meadow Campground.

  There is a $5 fee for parking at this day-use area. Information: 539-2607.


Larry Bowen
1945 ~ 2006

   Larry Wayne Bowen, a former Three Rivers resident, died Tuesday, May 30, 2006. He was 61.
   Larry was born Jan. 31, 1945, in Pasadena to Wayne Hughes Bowen and Alice Viola West Bowen. He graduated from Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova.
   Larry resided in Three Rivers where, in the 1970s, he owned the Lion’s Den, a woodcarving business in the building where The Cabin coffeehouse is located today. Larry became renowned for his sequoia carvings.
   For the past 16 years, Larry has resided in the Pollock Pines area where he continued his woodcarving. His works could be seen for sale along the old highway that is known as the Pony Express Trail.
   Today, on Highway 50, there is a totem pole that will be a lasting legacy to Larry’s talent. In Three Rivers, the sunburst that adorns The Cabin’s entrance was created by Larry, as were the Indians at the Kaweah General Store.
   Larry is survived by his three sons, Jim Bowen of Orangevale and Isaac Bowen and Caleb Bowen, both of Sacramento.
Online condolences may be submitted to:

Stephen Salamack
1940 ~ 2006

   Stephen C. Salamack, a resident of Three Rivers for 23 years, died Sunday, June 4, 2006. He was 65.
   A service will be held today (Friday, June 16) at 11 a.m. at St. Clair’s Catholic Mission in Three Rivers.
   Stephen was born Sept. 15, 1940, in Pocatello, Idaho. When he was five, Stephen moved with his family to Amish Country in Pennsylvania.
   In 1958, two days after his high school graduation, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. For the next 21 years, his tour of duty included the East and West coasts of the United States as well as Asia.
   Stephen was stationed at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Orange County when he retired in 1979. At that time, he enrolled in the University of California at Irvine, graduating in 1983 with a master’s degree and teaching credential.
   Stephen’s first and only teaching job was at Exeter High School, where he taught mathematics for the next 21 years. He retired from this, his second career, in June 2004.
   Stephen was preceded in death by his wife, Kate, in December 2004.
   He is survived by their children, George, Sara, and Quentin.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL:
Entire contents of this website © Copyright 2003-2004 by The Kaweah Commonwealth