this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
3R man dies in
Jon Lentz, 39, of Three Rivers
was killed last weekend in a single-vehicle
accident. Two Tulare County fire engines
and an ambulance responded to the call
that was received at 11:57 p.m. on Saturday,
Upon arriving at the scene,
emergency responders found Jon had been
ejected 50 feet from the vehicle. According
to Dave Thomas, CHP officer, Jon was driving
westbound on Sierra Drive just before
Old Three Rivers Drive when the 2001 F-250
pickup he was driving crossed the eastbound
lane, left the roadway, and descended
a 10-foot embankment before striking a
It was reported that Jon
was not wearing a seatbelt. He was pronounced
dead at the scene.
Jon’s obituary is below
on this page.
Stranded swimmers rescued
When campers check into the
Kaweah Park Resort, they receive a river-safety
warning first and are assigned a campsite
second. News clippings are posted in several
places around the office in the hope that
visitors will take heed that even if the
river doesn’t look dangerous, it
is, especially for the novice river swimmer.
The swimming pool right outside the office
is there for a reason. It furnishes a
much safer alternative where campers can
cool off and get plenty wet.
But the shoreline along the
riverfront resort has some tranquil-looking
pools, and when the temperature soars
into the triple digits, the pristine stretch
of Kaweah River is impossible for some
to resist. Visitors enter the water daily
and invariably somebody gets caught in
the current, is too tired to fight the
chilly current, and requires assistance
to get back to shore.
That familiar scenario was
re-enacted Tuesday, June 17, just before
lunchtime. Two 12-year-old girls from
Atascadero entered an upstream pool at
the resort and were immediately swept
downstream by the surprisingly swift current.
“What’s ironic is that one
of the girls swam back and forth across
the channel to the island yesterday after
we set up camp,” said a relative
who asked that the family not be identified.
“Once they got out there today they
were just too scared to get back.”
At that point, an adult camping
with the party entered the water to help
get the girls back across the channel.
He soon lost his confidence and also became
In a matter a minutes, a
county firefighter, several Three Rivers
on-call volunteers, and Deputy Jim Fansett
were staging on shore preparing to bring
the marooned trio from their island perch
in the middle of the river.
“What we’re using here is
called a pendulum maneuver to float or
swing the victims back across one-by-one,”
Deputy Fansett explained. “This
technique works best if the victims are
unhurt, can put on a life jacket, and
hold on to the inner tube that can be
pulled across the channel by these ropes.”
A rescue team member is stationed
downstream just in case a victim lets
go. Nobody else needs to enter the water
unless there is a more immediate emergency,
Deputy Fansett said.
In a matter of a few minutes,
the swiftwater rescue team had the trio
back safely on shore. The victims, none
the worse for the stress of the ordeal,
thanked their rescuers and vowed to use
better judgment the next time.
3R goes proactive
Ask any public official,
business owner, resident, or visitor:
what is the number-one issue of our time?
It’s unequivocally public safety,
whether it’s the mean streets of
the inner city or small-town rural America.
And although relatively speaking
rural crime rates pale when compared to
urban statistics, a victim is still a
victim no matter where the crime occurs.
For as long as anyone can
remember, the busy summer season has meant
a spike in local crime. It’s not
necessarily wanton violence, but Three
Rivers is no stranger to homicide (there
were two on the North Fork in the early
1990s), and there was a brazen bank robbery
during Jazzaffair a few years later.
In 2002, a rash of smash
and dash burglaries plagued the central
business district. That spate of seasonal
crime led to the organizing of the local
volunteer contingent (VIPs) of the Tulare
County Sheriff’s Department.
These volunteers have been
indispensable in helping the resident
deputy keep the peace. But the growth
of the county, budget constraints, and
some seasonal factors have conspired to
present a situation that if left untended
could easily become volatile.
At least that’s the
consensus of property owners who live
up and down the forks of the Kaweah River
and others living alone or on isolated
properties. All admit that the main reason
they came to Three Rivers was to find
a little peace and quiet.
For some folks, especially
riverfront owners, the summer is anything
but peaceful. The powerful attraction
of the Kaweah River is at the nexus of
the seasonal problem.
Locals and visitors alike
want to access its remarkable swimming
holes. Trespassing, drug use, and alcohol
at these places invariably lead to confrontations
that can escalate an already tense situation.
The solution is simply a
greater law enforcement presence at the
very least during the busiest periods
when the local population swells. One
deputy cannot be everywhere and in a confrontation,
a backup deputy or two is mandatory.
Since the Town Meeting of
June 9 when Tulare County Sheriff Bill
Wittman listened intently to the plight
of locals who spoke out, more deputies
have been patrolling Three Rivers. Unconfirmed
reports indicated that dozens of citations
were written by sheriff’s deputies
during the weekend of June 13 to 15.
That’s a quick fix
but a more permanent solution is being
sought. In response, Sheriff Wittman will
return to Three Rivers on Monday, June
30, to outline his plan to deal with law
enforcement during the busy Fourth of
July weekend and the summer season. The
meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the
Three Rivers Memorial Building.
This special Town Meeting
is being sponsored by the Three Rivers
“Law enforcement is not really within
the scope of the Foundation,” said
Tom Sparks, board president and spokesperson.
“But because of the overwhelming
response at the last meeting, we felt
compelled to get involved in the process.”
Prescribed fire ignited in Cedar Grove
Kings Canyon National Park
fire crews began the Zumwalt Prescribed
Fire in the Cedar Grove area on Thursday,
June 19. Upon completion, the fire will
have encompassed 192 acres on the south
side of the highway and the Kings River
between Roaring River and Zumwalt Meadow.
This entire area has been
burned in recent history by prescribed
fire, in 1995 and 1997.
Trail closures will be in
effect during the two-day ignition period
and until it is determined that no hazards
remain for hikers. This basically means
that the trail that parallels the south
side of the Kings River from Roads End
through Zumwalt Meadow to Roaring River,
as well as the Zumwalt Meadow loop, will
not be accessible.
The trail to Roaring River
Falls will remain open, as will all trails
north of the highway and those that access
the backcountry from Roads End.
Another larger prescribed
fire — over 900 acres — is
planned for Cedar Grove in the fall.
Prescribed fires are also
planned for Grant Grove in Kings Canyon
and, in Sequoia, at Wuksachi, Lodgepole,
and Mineral King, all of which depend
on conditions such as weather, air quality,
and available personnel.
In all, there are 13 projects
totaling 3,486 acres in 2008, although
it is rare that all of the annual planned
projects reach completion.
This year, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks commemorates 40 years of a prescribed
fire program. Originally called “controlled
burns,” the concept of reintroducing
fire into the natural ecosystem began
at Redwood Mountain in these very parks.
3R resident, bear
The Sequoia Natural History
Association recently released a new children’s
book, If You Were a Bear, written by wildlife
biologist Rachel Mazur of Three Rivers,
bear management specialist at Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks. Unlike
many other kids’ books about bears,
this publication teaches children at an
early age how they can help protect black
The easy-to-read rhymes and
original artwork make this a fun and educational
book. The book is recommended for ages
four to eight.
Illustrations are by Sarina Jepsen of
Portland, Ore., who holds a master’s
degree in entomology from UC Davis and
specializes in biological and technical
illustrations of insects and other invertebrates.
Here are excerpts from If
You Were a Bear:
Can you imagine having paws instead
Eating acorns and ants?
Sleeping through the whole winter?
It must be really different to be a bear!
Or is it? Little bear cubs need food,
shelter and safety, just like you and
Come find out what it’s like to
be a bear — and how you (yes, you!)
can help keep them wild.
* * *
And once a bear tastes human food
that’s rich in calories, it finds
a way to grab some more, without a thanks
or please. And claws that once were used
on logs, and teeth that once bit open
fruit, bite open cans instead. For bears
that don’t eat human food stay wild,
safe, and free. How fun to be a little
bear, up climbing in a tree.
The book can be purchased
at visitor centers in Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks or on SNHA’s
3R teen competing
School Rodeo state finals
Shyan Souza of Three Rivers
isn’t hanging out at the river this
week. Instead, she grabbed her boots,
buckle, and spurs, loaded up her horse,
and has headed to the east side of the
Sierra. From Monday, June 16, to Saturday,
June 21, Shyan has been in Bishop for
the California High School Rodeo State
Finals, competing in the Breakaway Roping
This is the second year that
Shyan has competed in District 6 of the
High School Rodeo and her first time to
make the state finals. During the season,
which runs September through June, there
are 12 rodeo competitions.
The top five contestants
in each event advance to the state level,
and Shyan placed fourth in the district
in Breakaway Roping. At state, she will
compete against 45 of the top California
teen cowgirl ropers.
She is also a state alternate
in Pole Bending and Team Roping (sixth
place), so if another contestant is absent,
she will also be competing in these events.
The top four winners from
each state event will head to New Mexico
in July for the High School Rodeo National
“Thank you to all my local sponsors
for their support and for believing in
me,” said Shyan, as several businesses,
service organizations, and individuals
have assisted her in her quest. “And
thanks to my sister, Fallon, for the use
of her awesome horse, Chief!”
Shyan is a 15-year-old sophomore
at Woodlake High School. Her parents are
J.P. and Tammy Souza of Three Rivers.
New approach to
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce is taking a new approach to
its quarterly member mixers. As a way
to introduce Chamber members and the community
to the diversity of local businesses,
the Chamber will now host its mixers at
a member's business location.
The June 18 mixer kicked
off this new idea and was hosted at the
Community Presbyterian Church in Three
Rivers. Sequoia Natural History Association
and Advanced Therapeutic Massage provided
The Chamber intends to continue
this trend at its September 17 and December
17 member mixers. Member businesses interested
in hosting a mixer provide the location
The chamber will be responsible
for notifying its members. Several businesses
can partner together to host the mixer,
which also could provide a unique opportunity
to highlight businesses located together
in one of the many "plazas"
in Three Rivers.
As a mixer host, business
members will be able to share information
about their products and services to attendees
during the Chamber's activities update.
Chamber members interested
in hosting one of the 2008 quarterly mixers
should contact Johanna Kamansky, president,
at 679-9066 or Scott Mullikin, vice president
and member chair, at 561-3488.
SEQUOIA MOUNTAIN HEALERS
This article is published
as part of the Sequoia Mountain Healers
series. The SMH mission is to create opportunities
for enhancing health and wellness, encourage
and promote diverse healing services,
and to provide a network for health and
* * *
— BY LYNN BUCKLER
Despite spending 16 percent
of its gross domestic product and double
the median on healthcare expenditures
compared to any other country in the world,
the United States recorded the lowest
score among 23 countries whose healthcare
systems were evaluated in a report published
by the Commonwealth Fund this past fall.
The Commonwealth Fund is an internationally
renowned private foundation established
in 1918 that finances independent research
on healthcare issues.
The U.S. healthcare system
received a score of 66 out of 100 in the
study, which also concluded that the U.S.
could save $50 to $100 billion in healthcare
spending while preventing 100,000 to 150,000
deaths over a calendar year if it improved
its healthcare system. The low score was
attributed to the poor quality of life
that the U.S. offers its patients —
rated the worst of those reviewed.
This is just another reason
why people should have a daily regimen
that includes exercise, a proper diet,
and a healthy mental outlook. And when
combined with regular CHIROPRACTIC CARE,
the incredible human body will be given
the opportunity to operate efficiently.
We’ve all read and
heard about “overweight America.”
Well, mix an unfit society with a poor
healthcare system and it’s a recipe
The report also gives the
U.S. healthcare system failing grades
regarding the prevalent overuse and unnecessary
duplication of medical services, a breakdown
in communication and coordination among
healthcare providers, and an overall uneven
quality of medical services provided.
The United States scored
15th out of 19 developed nations on preventable
deaths, like heart attacks. We also had
the highest infant mortality rate.
Our nation’s healthcare
system is in the hands of elected officials.
But everyone can do something that will
have a positive impact on their long-term
The Commonwealth Fund’s
report is pretty clear: Our nation’s
healthcare system is sick. So while it’s
always best to eat healthy and keep fit,
the importance is magnified while our
nation searches for a cure to its healthcare
For more information
regarding this study, contact Dr. Lynn
Buckler at Buckler Chiropractic, 42261
Sierra Drive, Three Rivers or by calling
pavers are back
By Gary Whitney
Sometime between spring and
fall every year, we get a visit from one
or more “gypsy” paving outfits.
I call them outfits because they do not
follow California law when it comes to
being either a contractor or a company.
They will come to your door
and make a pitch to get you to let them
pave your driveway. It generally goes
like this: “We’re paving down
the street and have some leftover asphalt.
We can give you a great deal on paving
Or maybe like this: “We’re
paving in the area and our equipment is
close. We can really save you some money
on your driveway.”
It sounds too good to be true, and it
is. I have had numerous calls over the
years (usually after it’s too late)
from people who have been duped by these
They often want 50 percent
up front (the law allows a contractor
10 percent) and full payment immediately
Why? Because you will never
see them again, and your driveway will
generally start falling apart the day
after they leave.
What can you do to protect yourself?
—Hire a licensed contractor. He
has his business at risk if he doesn’t
do it right and he has an obligation to
warranty his work. He also pays taxes
(gypsies don’t) and he pays comprehensive
and liability insurance. If someone is
injured on your property while working
for you without these, guess who pays?
—Get more than one estimate on the
job. Make sure that all bids are for the
exact same thing.
—Unlicensed contractors cannot legally
bid a job and cannot legally do any job
in excess of $500. Go online to the State
Contractors’ Licensing Board (cslb.gov)
and check their license status. The site
will also provide any outstanding complaint
information and insurance information.
—Don’t make a rash decision.
Think it through. Were you going to pave
your driveway anyway or did this “deal”
give you the idea?
—Question their credentials. Get
all license information and tell them
(after the 10 percent, if necessary) that
you will pay the balance net 30 days.
I hope this will help if
this situation happens to you. Generally,
we don’t find pots of gold at the
end of the rainbow.
Gary Whitney has worked
for L.E. Britten Construction of Three
Rivers for 27 years.
1968 ~ 2008
Jonathan Wayne Lentz of Three
Rivers died Sunday, June 15, 2008, due
to injuries sustained in a vehicle accident.
Today (Friday, June 20) would have been
his 40th birthday.
Interment will be at the
Three Rivers Cemetery tomorrow (Saturday,
June 21) at 1 p.m., followed by a memorial
service at the First Baptist Church in
Three Rivers at 2 p.m. Visitation was
Wednesday, June 18, at Miller’s
Memorial Chapel in Visalia.
Jon was born June 20, 1968,
and moved to Three Rivers with his parents,
Wayne and Connie Lentz, when he was three
years old. He attended Three Rivers School
and graduated from Woodlake High School
with the Class of 1987.
While at WHS, Jon enjoyed
playing football with legendary coach
Leo Robinson. In his senior year, he and
his friend, Spencer Jensen, were selected
to play in the Tulare/Kings All-Star Game
and brought home a victory for the “East
Team” over the West.
After high school, Jon left
Three Rivers to attend Butte College in
Chico and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.
He returned to Three Rivers and worked
for L.E. Britten Construction for 14 years.
The only other time that
he didn’t reside in Three Rivers
was when he accepted a position with the
State of California Department of Transportation
where, for two years, he worked in Taft
and San Luis Obispo. A year and a half
ago, he was stationed closer to home,
working out of Caltrans’s Pinehurst
Jon was an avid hunter and,
with friends, took an annual hunting trip
to Colorado. He and buddy Steve Fesperman
were bird-hunting partners.
Jon also enjoyed riding dirt
bikes. Every chance he got, Jon would
join Chuck and Lisa Coulter and their
children — whom he considered his
second family — and his group of
Three Rivers and Exeter friends on excursions
to the desert with their bikes.
For many years, Jon played
in the Poison Oak men’s summer softball
league in Three Rivers. He also played
softball at Visalia’s Plaza Park.
One of Jon’s best memories,
about which he always enjoyed telling
stories, was when he was 12 and backpacked
across the Sierra with his dad and Larry
Britten of Three Rivers. They departed
from Mineral King and hiked east to Whitney
Portal, a distance of more than 70 miles.
Jon was a dog person and
loved his black Labradors, Duke, who died
earlier this year, and Jake, who was with
Jon in the auto accident and didn’t
survive. He could often be found at the
river, swimming with his dogs.
In March 2008, Jon met Katherine
(Katie) Vargus and her little dog, Cloe.
Jon and Katie soon became engaged and
had plans to marry March 28, 2009, in
Shell Beach. He was looking forward to
marriage and starting a family.
According to Jon’s
mom and dad, Connie and Wayne, he was
a wonderful son, fiancé, and friend.
He also enjoyed all his coworkers he met
while employed with Caltrans.
Jon was preceded in death
by his grandparents, Orville and Gert
Lentz and Cotton and Vera Applegate.
He is survived by his mother
and father, Connie and Wayne Lentz of
Three Rivers; his fiancée, Katie
Vargus, who had recently moved to Three
Rivers; his aunt and uncle, Linda and
Dewey Woollum of Pasco, Wash.; five cousins,
Nikke Costa and son Nicholas of Washington,
Deena Andrews and husband Curtis and their
four daughters, Kristin, Jannelle, Aisley,
and Josie of Missouri, Scott Applegate
of Palm Springs, Todd Woollum and wife
Diana and children Elise and Elijah of
Washington, and Mary Lynn Woollum of Washington.
Donations in Jon’s
memory may be made to the Woodlake Union
High School Foundation, P.O. Box 475,
Woodlake, CA 93286.
1922 ~ 2008
John (Jack) Wood died at
his home in Harbor City on Monday, June
2, 2008. He was 86.
John was born in Inglewood
on May 22, 1922, to John and Alice Wood.
He was a loving husband, father, grandfather,
great-grandfather, brother, father-in-law,
and friend who served his country, his
community, his family, and the Lord.
John served in the U.S. Army
during World War II and was stationed
in the European theater. He was a radio
operator who served in the Normandy, North
France, Central Europe, and Rhineland
campaigns with the 8th Infantry Division,
28th Field Artillery, Battalion Headquarters
After returning home to Southern
California from military duty, John spent
several years in the retail grocery business.
He also worked in construction for 10
In 1965, John and his family
relocated to Three Rivers. John built,
owned, and operated the Kaweah Korral.
It was a restaurant, riding stables, and
home to many animals, including two bears,
raccoons, peacocks, guinea hens, calves,
The Kaweah Korral was located
near the entrance to Three Rivers, across
Highway 198 from the Stivers Motel (present-day
Lazy J Ranch Motel) and the Buckaroo Inn
restaurant. John’s wife, Margaret,
their daughter, Rani, and two sons, Steve
and John, assisted in running the Kaweah
Korral until it was sold a few years later
due to health reasons.
In the 1970s, John organized
a couple of regattas at Lake Kaweah. The
weekend events consisted of boat races
and other activities, which were fun for
the participants and spectators while
at the same time benefited local businesses.
In the 1980s, John was instrumental
in the establishment of the Three Rivers
Senior League. During the first few years
of the organization’s existence,
John served as president.
In 1991, John was honored
as “Person of the Year” for
his many years of service to local seniors.
John also received an “Elk of the
Year” honor by the B.P.O.E. Elks
Lodge in Hawthorne, Calif.
John was a life member of the Veterans
of Foreign Wars-Post 3939 of Three Rivers
and was a deacon and head usher at the
First Baptist Church in Three Rivers.
In 2002, John and Margaret
lost their Three Rivers home to eminent
domain as a result of the Lake Kaweah
enlargement project. At that time, the
couple left Three Rivers and relocated
in Harbor City.
John was preceded in death
by his loving wife of 63 years, Margaret,
in 2006, and a son, Ronald Wood.
He is survived by four of
his children, Steve Wood and wife Christy
of Three Rivers, Cheryl Cerasani and husband
Tony of Marana, Ariz., Rani Fish and husband
Jim of Manhattan Beach, and John Wood
and wife Linda of Woodlake; his sister,
Barbara Tindell of Riverside; nine grandchildren;
and 20 great-grandchildren.