In the News - Friday, June 18,
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
Rivers Ambulance to disband
54 years of dedicated service, the Three Rivers Ambulance
Service announced earlier this week that it will cease
to provide any emergency services to Three Rivers
and the Sequoia National Park area effective August
17, 2010. The announcement comes after the State of
California issued an administrative ruling that effectively
means the local volunteer company would no longer
be able to provide the quality of emergency medical
care currently being provided.
According to correspondence that was
forwarded by the local ambulance’s board of
directors this week to the County of Tulare and the
Central California Emergency Management Services Agency,
the State of California denied a request to allow
two local EMT II students to complete their training
and be certified after June 17, 2010.
Without these new EMT IIs, the Three Rivers ambulance
service would be unable to replace retiring members.
According to Supervisor Allen Ishida,
the state’s latest ruling caught everybody off
State of California just switched gears on everybody
and we’re not sure what’s going to happen
next,” Ishida said. “Currently, we have
some rotating coverage in Lemon Cove on the busy weekends
but the Three Rivers Ambulance Service is critical
to meeting the county’s response times in the
Ishida said one possible scenario being
discussed is stationing a paramedic from one of the
companies under the county’s contract at Three
Rivers. If that happens, Ishida said, there’s
a chance the local ambulance might be able to continue.
Mary Staberg, president of the board
of the Three Rivers Ambulance Service, said they will
work with the other companies to effect a smooth transition.
want to ensure that our community continues to receive
high quality emergency medical service throughout
the transition,” the board’s letter stated.
Father drowns after saving
Unfortunately, when Kaweah Country experiences
a season with extended runoff and the river becomes
extremely dangerous, it’s not if a fatality
will occur but rather when. But the fact that tragedies
occur nearly every year do not make it any easier
for Three Rivers, a town desperately seeking some
semblance of a safe and respectful use of its most
Invariably, the victims are visitors,
the uninitiated who just can’t resist the allure
of the chilly water. On Sunday, June 13, the inviting
pool just upriver from Slicky proved both alluring
Sunday’s tragedy, like so many
of these real-life dramas, was not without its heroes,
especially the father who gave his own life to save
his son and the passing local who risked his own safety.
The all-too-familiar story began to unfold during
the late afternoon.
That’s when a family from the Harbor
City area of Los Angeles County was enjoying a cabana
beachside at Rio Sierra Riverhouse. The 15-year-old
son mostly hung out by the water’s edge but
was also wading in the shallows.
Unbeknownst to the teen, there is a sharp
drop-off a few yards from the water’s edge.
As he ventured out farther, in an instant he was flailing
in the turgid water.
The teen’s father, Michael Grande,
47, in the cabana 25 feet away, entered the water
without hesitating. In a minute or two, Grande was
able to push the boy to the waiting arms of his mother.
Both mother and son clung precariously to a submerged
tree only four feet from shore; they eventually made
it to safety.
Now it was the father who was swept into
the swirling eddy. Under current runoff conditions,
entering those rapids without safety gear means almost
According to a witness at the scene,
Grande struggled for what seemed like several minutes
but was managing to stay clear of the midstream whitewater.
While this frenzied scene was taking place, another
guest at Rio Sierra ran up to the nearby highway and
flagged down a local resident who came in an instant
to help the victim.
Without a thought for his own safety,
the man immediately entered the water in an attempt
to retrieve the much larger Grande, who was now bobbing
in the swirling pool 25 feet from shore.
The rescuer grabbed the victim and pulled
him toward shore but couldn’t free him from
the powerful current. After a few moments, the would-be
rescuer, who was less than half the size of the 260-pound
victim, had to let go.
At this point, the owner of the property,
Margaret Roberts, managed to get a long hose to the
rescuer and he was pulled to safety. The victim was
now face down in a calmer part of the pool a short
Several witnesses gathering at the scene
were able to get Grande back on shore where Roberts
administered CPR. Unfortunately, the 47-year-old victim
could not be revived. He was transported by ambulance
to Kaweah Delta Hospital, where he was pronounced
Sgt. Wright, the coroner who examined
Grande’s body, attributed the victim’s
death to “freshwater drowning.”
these cases, it is a race between the victim’s
lungs filling with water and the heart stopping because
of the shock of the extremely cold water,” Sgt.
Wright explained. “We can never be certain which
Yellow star thistle
By Brian Rothhammer
Bryce Ribero of the University of California
Cooperative Extension addressed the Monday, June 7,
town meeting and said all of Tulare County is being
threatened by the Yellow Star Thistle. This noxious
weed spreads rapidly and unlike its more common cousin,
the Italian thistle, is toxic to horses.
There is a program currently in effect,
partnering with the Tulare County Weed Management
Area, to eradicate the YST on the leading edges of
its infestation area.
Rivers is the line of defense,” said Ribero,
and Deb Schweizer, NPS fire education specialist,
agreed. “This thistle is the number one plant
that we don’t want in Sequoia and Kings Canyon
The TCWMA will treat small infestations
of up to 10 acres on private land. The charge is $50
for up to three acres; $15 per acre for areas of four
or more acres.
is a group effort,” said Ribero, “We are
willing to help coordinate backpack spraying groups
from Three Rivers to get this noxious weed under control.”
Yellow Star Thistle is identified by
a bright yellow flower head with sharp spines or horns
of three-quarters to one inch long at the base of
flower head. The plant height is two to three feet
high with grayish, green foliage and small leaves
that resemble “wings” on the stems.
It is one of the most ecologically and
economically damaging invasive plants in California.
If you have, or even think you have,
Yellow Star Thistle on your property, call the UC
extension office at 684-3300 to arrange for an inspection
of the infested area.
St. Anthony moves forward on
By Brian Rothhammer
Friars from the Franciscan Province of
Santa Barbara purchased land in Three Rivers from
the Alles and Craig ranches in 1959 and set out to
build the Saint Anthony Retreat Center. They dedicated
themselves to the faith formation and spiritual development
of men and women of California’s Central Valley.
From the time it opened in 1963, the
retreat has provided facilities for people of all
Christian denominations to find peace, inner healing,
personal integration, and spiritual transformation.
The retreat can feed and house 100 overnight guests.
Countless retreats, workshops, and conferences
have been hosted and sponsored on the expansive landscaped
grounds among oak-studded hills. Even so, there was
room for new amenities.
After the passing of her husband Leon
in 1984, longtime Three Rivers resident and philanthropist
Ollie Craig donated 17 acres of her neighboring Craig
Ranch to St. Anthony, stipulating that it be used
as a youth center. For more than a decade, administrators
of St. Anthony and members of the surrounding community
have worked to make the youth center a reality.
In 2003, Bishop John Steinbock of the
Catholic Diocese of Fresno purchased the retreat center
from the Franciscans and appointed Monsignor John
Griesbach as director of St. Anthony Retreat Center.
With steady resolve, Father John embraced
the task of continuing and expanding on the work of
those who preceded him.
the mission of St. Anthony Retreat Center remains
the same as it was under the direction of the Franciscans,”
said Fr. John in August 2004.
He appointed an advisory board of men
and women from diverse backgrounds and experience,
Catholic and Protestant, to lend their skills toward
fulfilling the mission.
the very start… we wanted to fulfill Ollie’s
dream to build a center to engage the community and
to help youth grow stronger in mind, body, and spirit,”
he said as ground was broken in May 2008 for the Santa
Teresita Youth Conference Center.
The ambitious project involves the use
of innovative resource management to create unique
facilities specifically geared toward spiritual enrichment
in strict accordance with the diocesan safe environment
New construction will be carefully “design
built” to work with the natural contours and
to preserve the beauty and biodiversity of the land.
Detoxified asphalt has been used for the roadbed;
foam block construction will be used for walls to
provide significant energy savings.
Another eight acres of land was added
in 2009 as a greenbelt between Santa Teresita and
adjoining properties. These acres will not be developed,
save for hiking trails.
There are plans to introduce specimens
of each variety of oak native to the Northern Sonora
zones to teach the “beauty and richness of diversity
in our California oak forests.”
New construction will include a two story,
12,664-square-foot administration building with laundry,
infirmary, kitchenette, conference rooms, and more.
The assembly building, at 8,460 square feet, will
have a full kitchen and seat 200 with gift shops,
indoor and outdoor stage, restrooms, and offices.
Each of the two student residences will
be 4,238 square feet and can house 60 students and
six chaperones. They will be built parallel to economize
on building costs while maximizing efficiency. Adjacent
to those will be two meeting rooms of 2,034 square
feet, configured around a central gathering area.
The 1,000-square-foot chapel will occupy
the highest point on the site, offering a panoramic
view of the entire Youth Center area and will incorporate
a Spanish mission-style bell tower.
There will also be a 1,100 square foot
arts-and-crafts building with an enclosed kiln for
firing ceramic artworks. Future plans call for a 200-seat
outdoor amphitheater built into the contour of the
For those who enjoy a cool swim, there
will be a 30-by-80-foot swimming pool with changing
rooms, restrooms, and shower. Guests and visitors
will also enjoy Three Rivers’s newest disc golf
Working with the Sequoia Riverlands Trust,
youth will be taught the values of science and conservation.
wish to help younger people discover what nature has
for them here,” added Fr. John.
Even with all this careful planning and
design, and after 80 percent of the infrastructure
has been completed, the County of Tulare informed
St. Anthony that a separate special use permit would
be required for the new development. A public hearing
will be held in Visalia under the auspices of the
Tulare County Planning Commission regarding the permit
on August 6, 2010.
As for the youth center plans, it seems
certain that Ollie Craig would approve of how her
dream for a versatile, multi-use youth center is nearing
Primary election proves predictable
Three Rivers voters usually throw some
curveballs into the election results when compared
to statewide voting results and, especially, Tulare
County’s results. But in the lackluster June
8 primary election, Three Rivers voted the same as
Tulare County, which voted mostly the same as California.
But there was one important difference,
however. In the race for county sheriff, Three Rivers
voted just the opposite of the countywide results.
The challenger, Chief John Zapalac, beat the incumbent
(62.37 to 37.48 percent) by almost the same numbers
that were tallied by Wittman countywide (63.91 to
35.85 percent), making him the ultimate victor.
In Woodlake, Zapalac won by a 60 to 40
percent margin, which was just slightly lower than
the Three Rivers margin. In the race for county supervisor
in Woodlake, Brian Rouch, the challenger, defeated
Steve Worthley, the incumbent, by a two-to-one margin.
Since neither candidate garnered more than 50 percent
of the votes, the two candidates for the District
2 seat will meet in a runoff on the November ballot.
Three Rivers went the way of the rest
of the state of California on the five ballot measures,
while Tulare County, with the exception of Proposition
13, voted the opposite.
Voter turnout was dismal statewide. At
24.8 percent, not even one-fourth of registered voters
took the time to cast a ballot.
In Tulare County, the results weren’t
much better. Just 27.48 percent of the voting public
showed up. Three Rivers tends to be a bit more civic-minded.
In this election, 45.14 percent of local registered
voters — but not even half — cast a ballot.
California voters decided five propositions.
Voters overwhelmingly adopted Proposition 13, which
prevents property taxes from being raised on buildings
that have undergone earthquake safety improvements.
Voters also approved Proposition 14.
The measure calls for changes to the primary election
process, including allowing voters to vote for any
candidate regardless of the voter’s political
Proposition 15, a measure that would repeal the state
ban on public funding of political campaigns, went
down to defeat.
Two other rejected measures were backed
by corporations. Proposition 16, funded by Pacific
Gas & Electric, would have amended the California
Constitution to require local governments to get two-thirds
voter approval before using tax dollars to start a
Proposition 17 was put on the ballot
by Mercury Insurance to overturn a state law prohibiting
insurance companies from considering a driver’s
insurance history to set rates. It also sought to
allow loyalty discounts to follow customers if they
switch insurance companies.
In the race for the non-partisan Superintendent
of Public Instruction, retired public school superintendent
Larry Aceves and state Assemblyman Tom Torlakson will
be facing each other in a November run-off since no
candidate in the field of 12 received more than 50
percent of the vote.
The November run-off will shape up as
the perennial battle in education circles: teachers
versus administrators. Torlakson, a former teacher,
is endorsed by the powerful California Teachers Association,
while Aceves has strong backing from a number of public
school superintendents and principals.
class of service dogs and
graduate from ASDEC
The Assistance Service Dog Educational
Center (ASDEC), which provides credit to Woodlake
High students to train dogs that will become companions
to those with physical disabilities, graduated its
sixth class of student trainers and service dogs on
Friday, May 21.
This year’s class is known as the
“F” Team. The letter “F” is
the sixth letter of the alphabet, which corresponds
with the number of graduating classes there have been
and is the first letter of all the names of the dogs
in the class.
A student signs on for a two-year commitment
to train their dog. All were successful in their goals
as every F Team dog was certified as a service dog.
In addition, this was the first session
in which breeds of dogs other than golden retrievers
were trained at the school. Another first is that
four additional dogs also graduated that were fostered
by members of the community with the goal of providing
service dogs to military veterans.
The ASDEC was founded by Gerald and Donna
Whittaker, who continue to volunteer their time and
talent to the program. The ASDEC is housed in the
old St. Johns School, located on Valencia Blvd. just
south of Woodlake.
To become involved in the program, call
Summer activities include
prescribed fire, water rescues
EXETER LITTLE LEAGUE CHAMPS
The Three Rivers Raptors, a local team
that competes in the Exeter Little League Minors,
won the league championship last Saturday, June 5,
at Dobson Field. The team of Three Rivers boys and
girls, ages eight through 10, finished first in league
play, then won the playoffs for the outright championship.
The team is managed by Eric Beedle who
said that what set this team apart from the rest of
the league was its maturity on the pitching mound.
On Wednesday, June 16, the Sequoia and
Kings Canyon National Parks helicopter crew assisted
the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department with a
short-haul transport of a 16-year-old male with a
severe laceration to his leg. The boy was located
approximately one mile from the Sequoia Park boundary
on the Inyo National Forest at Heart Lake near the
Onion Valley Campground.
Onion Valley, at 11,000 feet, is a popular
eastside trailhead for hikers who want to access the
High Sierra country west of Independence and north
of Mount Whitney.
Local National Park Service fire crews
are expected to conduct hazard-reduction burns near
Ash Mountain headquarters sometime next week. The
burns will occur between 1,700 and 3,000 feet on several
segments between one and seven acres from the Sequoia
entrance station to Hospital Rock picnic area.
Intermittent smoke from the burns will
be visible throughout the Kaweah canyon.
This week, the Viewpoint Prescribed Fire
in Kings Canyon National Park was ignited. The project
unit is located near Cedar Grove on the floor of Kings
Canyon and is 71 acres in size. As a result, Moraine
Campground will be closed until smoke impacts decrease.
No other park facilities, roads, or trails will be
closed as a result of the burn, but the area may be
impacted by smoke.
The Tulare County Coroner’s Office
reported that a Georgia man drowned last weekend while
kayaking on the Kern River near Bush Creek. The man,
in his early 50s and overweight, probably suffered
cardiac arrest when he hit the chilly water after
being thrown from his kayak.
Music camp prepares
final violin concerts
By Bill Haxton
The Center Stage Strings Concert Series
continues this week with three more exceptional events,
all at the Community Presbyterian Church.
Today (Friday, June 18) at 4 p.m., world-renowned
master teacher Robert Lipsett will present a Master
Class to four extraordinary violinists. The Master
Class performance is free and open to the public.
If you have never attended a Master Class, and you
have an interest in what it takes to make a good violinist
great, this opportunity should not be missed.
Saturday, June 19, at 7 p.m., award-winning
violinist Danielle Belen teams with cello phenomenon
Diego Miralles and extraordinary pianist Jennie Jung
to perform Brahms, Beethoven, and Schoenfield.
Here are the music notes for Saturday’s
Piano Trio No. 1
in B major, Op. 8
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)
most of his life Brahms suffered from periodic episodes
of extreme insecurity. In the grip of those dark spells,
he burned many of his compositions, believing they
didn’t measure up. Somehow, this piano trio
survived even though it was criticized when first
published in 1854. But the 1888 revision is magnificent.
In the Allegro, solo piano states the nostalgic main
theme, then the cello develops it beautifully, and
when the violin enters the music simply soars. From
here, Brahms introduces new themes and emotions, but
always returns to the warmth and calm of the main
theme. The Scherzo begins on a skipping, tentative
note, becomes positively exuberant, then expands the
pleasant nostalgia of the Allegro. The Adagio is deep
and reflective. Patiently advancing piano chords lead
an almost vocal, singing violin toward the warm voice
of the cello, now profound and serene. The Allegro
last movement continues the expansion, and at the
risk of overusing the analogy, its effect is strikingly
similar to a powerful Shakespearean soliloquy.
Piano Trio No. 5
in D major, Op. 70 “Ghost”
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
music can tolerate big mood shifts within the same
composition, and no composer was moodier than Beethoven,
so much so that he often seems to be doing battle
with himself. That’s certainly true in this
piece, especially the Allegro first movement that
opens with fist-shaking defiance, then immediately
becomes quietly euphoric before whirling back and
forth between these moods as if trying to work them
out. The Largo gave the composition its name, “Ghost,”
because of its ethereal, spectral mood. The movement
is like a dirge, occasionally punctuated by the discordance
of overpowering grief. The Presto is about as distant
from the Largo on the moodswing scale as you can get
— frivolous, celebratory, joking. You can almost
hear Beethoven having a belly laugh across the centuries
at the contortions he forces on musicians as they
work to come together at the close.
Cafe Music for Piano Trio
PAUL SCHOENFIELD (b. 1947)
Infectiously enjoyable, over-caffeinated, whimsical,
rollicking, good humored. But Schoenfield’s
own words tell it best: “My intention was to
write a kind of high-class dinner music which could,
just barely, find its way into a concert hall.”
The work draws on early 20th century American jazz,
Viennese, light classical, gypsy, and Broadway.
On Sunday, June 19, the Finale Concert
begins at 5 p.m. This is where every musician who
attended the Music Camp performs, some as soloists,
some in small chamber groups. It’s pure celebration,
and it’s a chance for all of us to get an advance
peek at the next generation of great violinists.
Immediately afterward, Center Stage Strings
and the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute will
host a one-hour reception open to everyone at Harrison
Hall on the church grounds. All of the performers
will be there, and it will be a great opportunity
to meet them.
Bill Haxton is a resident
of Three Rivers and principal in the newly formed
Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
First things first
Crawl before you walk;
Draw before you paint
By Jana Botkin
Three Rivers is a beautiful place that
inspires many people to create art. Lots of people
get the yen to paint, often when retired.
(Sometimes I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying,
“Oh yeah? I think I’ll try practicing
law when I retire!”)
Most don’t understand that drawing
comes before painting, sort of like grunting and pointing
comes before public speaking.
A painting without drawing skills behind
it is usually a weak piece of art. What I mean by
this is that unless one can see proportions, perspective,
and values (the darks and lights), the resulting paintings
will most likely be exercises in frustration.
Throw in color, paint consistency, and
brush behavior, and you get a recipe for visual chaos.
Of course, if one is more process than product oriented,
poor paintings may not be considered a problem.
Drawing is a skill that can be taught,
learned, and developed through repetitious practice.
I have been teaching people how to draw for 16 years
and always tell beginning students that “drawing
is a skill, not a talent.”
It is like typing — everyone can
learn to type. Some type 25 words per minute, and
others hit 90. Those speedsters are the ones with
talent, but all are typists.
Despite knowing the proper sequence of
skills, I do understand the desire to just dive in.
When I was learning to knit, my attitude was, “Scarves?
We don’t need no stinkin’ scarves!”
My first project was a sweater, and not
just a simple pullover but a cardigan, complete with
button bands and buttonholes. Needless to say, I own
many weird sweaters and, after five years of knitting,
quite a few good ones too.
So, it is probably possible learn to
paint without first drawing if one is learning from
mistakes in the process and willing to have a collection
of weird paintings.
Botkin of Three Rivers is a professional artist who
owns Cabinart in Three Rivers. She creates oil paintings,
pencil drawings, and murals of local landmarks and
viewscapes. Her current project is a mural in the
city of Exeter of Mineral King’s Franklin Lake
1943 ~ 2010
Oral “Kent” Gannaway died
Tuesday, March 9, 2010, at his home in Stockton, Mo.
He was 67.
Kent was born and raised in Woodlake.
He was a former resident of Three Rivers and Exeter.
He was a retired state fruit inspector.
A memorial service will be held Saturday,
June 26, at 9 a.m., at Southern Baptist Church, 259
N. Acacia St., Woodlake.