In the News - Friday, June 25,
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
man dies in rafting accident
Even when all safety procedures are followed,
rafting the Kaweah River can be risky business. And
although since 1995 when local commercial whitewater
rafting began there have been very few mishaps, accidents
can and will happen.
A tragic one occurred Monday, June 28,
just before 10 a.m. during an All-Outdoors Class 4
trip on the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. Four
rafters with a guide and a “chase boat”
put in below the Pumpkin Hollow condos, a designated
commercial launch site about a half-mile below the
Pumpkin Hollow Bridge.
The river channel is narrow there at
first but widens in the first mile as the paddlers
encounter a rapid known as “Power House”
named for Power House No. 1, the nearby hydroelectric
plant. According to several local rafters, this stretch
of river is actually more dangerous during lower flows
because more rocks are exposed.
The flows during Monday’s trip
were at 1,900 cubic feet per second (cfs). For whitewater
thrill seekers anything around 2,000 cfs is optimal.
It was in the Power House rapid that
the raft with four clients overturned. The four rafters
and guide — all wearing helmets, wetsuits, and
life jackets — hit the water simultaneously.
The guide managed to get back into the raft and went
after the clients now afloat in the turgid whitewater.
a relatively calm pool to the right just below the
rapids so it’s not too difficult to swim out
of there,” said Dave Hammond, owner of Three
Rivers Hideaway. “They [All-Outdoors guides]
did everything right and nobody was in the water more
than a minute or two.”
According to one witness, a couple of
the rafters, including the victim, Grady Larry Singletary,
Jr., 47, of Castleberry, Fla., went right while the
two others went left. Three of the patrons made it
quickly to safety while Singletary continued about
one-half mile into the next rapid in mile two known
Cyanotic, named for a medical term referring
to a condition when the skin turns bluish due to lack
of oxygen in the blood, churns through a boulder-filled
channel with surging whitewater. The All-Outdoors
website contains a description and video tour of the
is little time to warm up before embarking on the
longest rapid of the day. Rafts pivot around large
boulders and drop into a continuous series of hydraulics…”
the website says.
Hammond, an experienced whitewater rafter
and guide, said that if the victim was recycled in
that water there’s no telling what happened.
He also said that Danny Walker, the trip
manager for that All-Outdoors excursion, is one of
the best in the business.
Within minutes, the guides had Singletary
on shore below a Dinely Drive residence where they
alternated administering CPR until emergency personnel
arrived. Engine 14 was on the scene within 10 minutes
after a local resident saw the victim in the water
and called 911.
The victim was transported via Three
Rivers Ambulance to Kaweah Delta Medical Center where
he was pronounced dead. The coroner later ruled the
cause of death was blunt force trauma to the chest.
All-Outdoors is based in Walnut Creek
and is one of seven commercial rafting companies permitted
to operate on the Kaweah River. According to Greg
Armstrong, a co-owner of All-Outdoors, the outfitter
has operated on 10 California rivers for more than
four decades with a spotless safety record.
Locals recall own near-drownings
By Brian Rothhammer
sharing my story would save even one life…”
said DeLinda Chubbuck of Three Rivers, Kings County
Office of Education school psychologist, as she recalled
a near drowning experience of her own.
She was eight years old and on a camping trip to Mammoth
Lakes with her family. DeLinda and her two brothers,
both 10, went to the banks of a river to swim.
found an area that looked fairly calm and started
toward the water, but a fisherman was there and he
shooed us away.”
The three children walked along the shore
to an unoccupied spot.
went in holding hands. The water was pretty swift.
My brother scraped his foot on a rock, and the next
thing I knew I was under a bush.”
She was swept downstream by the current,
lost consciousness, and recalls being pulled ashore
by one of her brothers.
must have been making a lot of noise, because men
from a nearby campsite came rushing over. It was lucky
that one of the men had just been trained in CPR.”
Lucky indeed or she may not have survived.
Cherokee Oaks resident recalls a near-drowning experience
on the Kern River when he was 17.
was a high-water year, and I swam across the river,
but was carried downstream by the strong current.
I walked through bushes to get back to the point opposite
from where I had started.”
With adolescent invincibility, he jumped
was swept downstream again, being banged and thrashed
on the rocks,” he recalled .
He noticed an angler shouting something
that could not be heard over the roaring water.
guy was jumping up and down, wildly pointing downstream.
I lunged upward and saw nothing but whitewater ahead.”
With adrenaline pumping, he swam for
wound up on a pile of rocks with a couple of trees
and a bunch of very angry ants. I was so wiped out
that it took me a while to even knock the biting ants
off of me.”
The river was narrow and deep and the
current was very strong. When his friends running
along shore caught up to him they threw him a line.
tied the rope through the belt loops of my cut-off
Levi’s and jumped in, finding myself quickly
slammed against rocks on the bank, and my rescuers
were also almost being pulled in as they hung on.
about then a rescue crew arrived, and they were none
too happy with me. They had just come from their third
river fatality that weekend.”
The waters of the Sierra Nevada are beautiful,
cool, enticing, and awesome in their power. To not
respect that power, even for a moment, can spell tragedy.
Be aware, be respectful, enjoy the waters, but stay
Bella Farm expands offerings
This has been one incredible spring.
The cooler than average May and June is unprecedented
in recent memory.
Just ask organic farmer James Birch who
has been farming on his North Fork Flora Bella property
in Three Rivers since 1988.
been a very unusual season this year,” reported
James. “Everything is about three to four weeks
Normal is tons of farm-fresh organic
produce that’s usually by now going to the local
market in addition to the fan club of chefs who for
years have purchased Flora Bella’s produce at
the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Currently,
the L.A. in-crowd is going wild over Flora Bella’s
bumper crops of apricots, nectarines, plums, Yukon
Gold potatoes, summer squash and, of course, the staple
of gourmet greens that are available year-round.
Starting Monday, June 28, all that organic
bounty and more will be available at the Flora Bella
office location at 41763 Sierra Drive, just upriver
from Three Rivers Market. Within a few weeks, the
expanded produce offerings will include more summer
favorites like Flora Bella’s killer tomatoes
but also organic eggs, milk, and meats like cage-free
chicken and grass-fed beef.
timing our grand re-opening with the next First Saturday
(July 3) so the visitors will have an opportunity
to buy all this local produce too,” said Tammy
Lieskovan, Flora Bella’s store manager. “But
starting Monday, we will be open daily every morning
Tammy said in a few weeks, James plans
on bringing back special orders of other products
like organic poultry and dairy products that are currently
available from L.A. vendors.
let us know what products you’re craving and
James can track them down,” Tammy said. “We
are planning to really expand and upgrade our local
Starting Monday, June 28, the Flora Bella
store will be open from 8 a.m. to noon weekdays (except
Wednesday); Saturdays will have extended hours depending
on events, visitor traffic, etc. For more information,
River, lake hit seasonal highs
If you are among those water watchers
who are wondering about this season’s high water
marks, then wonder no more.
According to Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah
general manager, the peak mean inflow of all the Kaweah
tributaries occurred Sunday, June 6, at 10 p.m. River
gauges recorded a water flow of 7,546 cubic feet per
high water mark of 714.14 feet at the lake was reached
Wednesday, June 23,” Deffenbaugh reported. “From
here on the lake will be gradually trending downward
but there will still be a very large pool through
Sequoia National Park fire crews ignited
several hazard reduction burns near Ash Mountain Headquarters
earlier this week. The tall, dry vegetation threw
up some huge flame lengths while a large contingent
of firefighters were on scene monitoring the progress
of the prescribed fires.
Deb Schweizer, the parks’ fire
education specialist said next on the prescribed fire
agenda is a 97-acre area east of the Moro Rock Road
known as the Bobcat unit. She said warming temperatures
and declining air quality might postpone the ignitions
that, if conditions improve, are scheduled for sometime
If the burn is conducted as planned,
Schweizer said, the parks’ interpretive trailer
Fire Place will be parked at the Giant Forest Museum
to explain to visitors the role of fire in the germination
of giant sequoia seedlings. Visitors could experience
smoke delays on the Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow
O n Friday, June 18, a CHP dispatcher forwarded
a cell phone call for help to the Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks dispatch. The caller indicated
a member of their party was experiencing high-altitude
The cell signal was traced to Forester
Pass at elevation 13,351 feet, the highest pass on
the Pacific Crest Trail. Sequoia Park rangers dispatched
a helicopter to the area that located the hikers moving
down in elevation in the vicinity of Tyndall Creek.
One member of the party of three, Dave
Weil, 40, of Beaverton, Ore., was experiencing a fluid
build-up in his lungs, a symptom of high altitude
pulmonary edema. The patient was flown to Ash Mountain
where he was then transported via ambulance to Kaweah
Delta Medical Center.
GRAND JURY DRAWING
The Tulare County Superior Court announced
earlier this week that the random drawing for the
2011-2012 Grand Jury panel will be held Thursday,
July 1, at 10 a.m. in Department No. 1 of the Visalia
The public is invited to attend the ceremony.
Information: 730-5000, ext. 1359.
Parks celebrate 50th anniversary of
Helicopter and crew members
backbone of parks operations
Whether implementing a daring rescue
from a 14,000-foot peak, spotting destructive wildfires,
or delivering necessary supplies to a backcountry
trail crew, the helitack program in Sequoia-Kings
Canyon plays a vital role in day-to-day park activities
and has done so for more than a half-century. This
crucial assignment was celebrated on Saturday, June
12, during an open house for the public and a reunion
of past and present members of the parks’ helitack
is a term coined to mean the initial attack on a wildfire
by a helicopter. Fifty years ago, this operation was
deemed necessary in Sequoia-Kings Canyon since the
majority of the vast parks is roadless.
Sequoia-Kings Canyon has one of the oldest helitack
programs in the National Park Service. The first helicopter
serving the parks was a Bell 47.
When the helitack operation was first
created in 1960, the policy of total fire suppression
was still intact, so air attack was indispensable
to fighting fire.
Times have changed since the 1960s, and
these days fire is no longer so feared nor suppressed.
Although suppression is still warranted in some cases,
a naturally caused fire is usually left to burn in
the backcountry, yet the helicopter is vital in monitoring
the behavior of these blazes that can at times be
numerous and far-flung. Helicopter operations are
also used to spot new lightning strikes and flare-ups.
In addition, the parks have flown countless
search-and-rescue missions, as well as wildland fire,
backcountry, and wilderness support missions. Mount
Whitney, the highest mountain in the Lower 48, is
within the boundaries of Sequoia National Park, and
the helicopter and crew have made numerous trips to
the summit over the years.
Countless rescues are still performed
year-round but short haul has been added to the helicopter
crew’s repertoire. This technique provides technical
rescue personnel an extra tool with which to expeditiously
remove a seriously injured subject and extract rescue
personnel from a remote accident site to a waiting
ambulance or where advanced care and aid is available.
Short-haul rescue involves the use of a rescue line
suspended from the helicopter to accomplish this task
when a safe landing is not possible.
In recent years, marijuana-growing operations
within the local parks boundaries have added another
dimension to helitack operations. Helicopter overflights
initially spot these clandestine gardens from the
air, then the helicopter is used to flush out the
growers, transport law-enforcement rangers and site-cleanup
personnel, and haul away the eradicated contraband
and tons of garbage, chemicals, irrigation equipment,
and other supplies used to maintain the environmentally
More than 30 alumni of the parks’
aviation program attended the reunion that was held
earlier this month. The public also attended and met
the crew members and toured the parks’ current
helicopter and facilities.
Road construction continues
Delays occur between
Point to Eleven Range
One-hour delays Monday through Thursday
from 7 am-5:30 pm from Amphitheater Point to Eleven
Range. Half-hour delay from 5-5:30 pm. Pass through
is at the top of the hour with lower (uphill bound)
traffic released first (which could at the busiest
times include more than 100 cars). During hours of
construction, traffic will be controlled by a pilot
vehicle. Traffic signals are in place during non-construction
hours, which are timed at 20 minutes.
WEEK: Night work is tentatively scheduled from Sunday,
June 27-Thursday, July 1, 9 pm to 5 am, with one pass-through
each evening at 11:30 pm.
Fighting fire with fire
On Tuesday, June 22, Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks fire personnel conducted a hazard-reduction
burn along the Generals Highway between the Sequoia
entrance station and Ash Mountain headquarters. The
burning continued Wednesday as crews worked to reduce
the fuel build-up around buildings and other facilities
in the foothills area of Sequoia National Park.
delays along the highway occurred due to smoke, but
travelers had plenty to watch during the short wait.
THREE RIVERS ENVIRONMENTAL
ISSUES AND ESSAYS
The history of food
By Mona Fox Selph
It is summer, and many farmers and gardeners
in Three Rivers are enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Not just their own labor, actually, but the labor
of many generations who came before us and developed
the improved seeds and sustainable farming methods
that have fed the world’s people over the millennia.
Not just the people who came before us,
actually, but also the animals that have helped us
feed ourselves, down to the bees, butterflies, and
bugs that pollinate one out of every four bites of
food we consume. Not just the visible creatures, but
the microbes and fungi that create a living soil in
which plants can survive.
The history of food is a fascinating
subject. Up until some 10,000 years ago, people lived
mostly hand to mouth as they hunted and gathered.
Then, in the Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers in present-day Iran and Iraq, animal
husbandry and agriculture began on a scale that allowed
settlements that became cities. Ergo, civilization.
There in Mesopotamia, sheep, goats, camels,
oxen, and horses were domesticated. Eventually, falcons
were trained for hunting other birds.
In Africa, the donkey was put to service.
Pigs, geese, chickens, buffalo, and dogs were raised
in China. Cormorants were used to catch fish.
Turkeys and musk ducks were bred in Mexico
and Central America. In South America, the llama,
alpaca, and guinea pigs were domesticated.
In the far north sub-arctic and tundra
of Eurasia, reindeer were used for drawing sleds and
for milk, meat, and hides. In India, even the great
elephant was enlisted for lifting and hauling that
could not easily have been accomplished otherwise.
From the earliest times forward, farmers
have selected the best seeds for the next year’s
planting. This practice set in process the gradual
development of better food plants.
An example is corn or maize, which started
in Central America as a seed head of grass only an
inch or two in size. Other plant foods originating
in that part of the world are cocoa and vanilla, tomatoes,
avocados, squash, and beans.
South America gifted us with ground nuts,
potatoes, cotton, pineapples, pimientos and peppers,
cassava, and the rubber tree. From the Middle East
came oats, wheat, peas, lentils, flax, olives, figs,
From Central Africa came sorghum, yams,
coffee, and palm tree oil. Western China produced
mil, soy beans, and tea. Southeast Asia and the Southern
Pacific gave us rice, bananas, sugar cane, oranges,
eggplants, coconuts, and pepper.
We have a world of choices available
to us now, but the best practice for the planet is
to consume mostly foods that are grown seasonally
and locally. Food is a matter of taste (pun intended).
It varies with the culture.
Dogs evolved from wolves, and it is unknown
whether we chose to live with them or they chose to
live with us. It is plausible that it all started
when someone found some orphaned pups and they were
too cute to eat, if they weren’t starving at
We mostly love our dogs, and they mostly
love us. However, canines are good breeders, and the
problem is what to do with the excess. We have spay-and-neuter
clinics, but still we have to euthanize many that
would end up as starving strays on the street. In
Asia and in pre-Columbian Mexico, the people ate the
excess so as not to let them go to waste. For the
dead dog, there is no difference as long as the death
is as quick and humane as possible.
In Europe, horse meat is consumed by
some, distasteful as the thought is to horse lovers.
In the Andes, Peruvian families keep guinea pigs inside
their homes. The kids may play with them, but when
mom needs some protein for the stew, she grabs one.
Among the Aborigines of Australia, the
peanut butter flavor of giant earthworms is enjoyed
by some. What category — animal or vegetable
— does birds’ nest soup of Japan fit into?
Made of the mucilaginous secretions of particular
birds, someone must have been pretty hungry to test
that out the first time.
Next to that one, chocolate-covered ants
sound pretty tasty. If one researches modern industrial
agriculture in our country, one gets pretty alarmed.
The overdraft of ancient aquifers, the
practice of monoculture and soil health depletion,
the use of poisonous sprays on the land and antibiotics
in animals, genetically modified seeds and plants,
the patenting of every seed and seed use rights by
such mega-companies as Monsanto, and the government
subsidies that drive self-sustaining farm families
in poor countries out of business and into starvation
all are huge issues in an unsustainable system. But
there is room for hope. According to the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, the number of small farms has increased
by several hundred thousand in recent years.
Small and local food production is catching
on, and we can practice or support it. Learn more
in October at the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend.
Mona Fox Selph of
Three Rivers is an organizer of the Three Rivers Environmental
Installation of 3R Woman’s Club officers,
By Kay Packard
On Wednesday, June 2, there was a changing
of the guard in the Three Rivers Woman’s Club.
The 2009-2010 officers were gratefully acknowledged
and the 2010-2011 were welcomed by Miss Cowgirl Bodine.
Barbara (Miss Cowgirl) Bodine galloped
into the room on her wooden stick horse, hooting and
hollering, all duded up cowgirl style, sorta toothless,
and fit to be tied. She handed out gifts appropriately
designed for each newly elected officer and her appointed
The new officers are: Kathy Bohl, president;
Mary Scharn, vice president; Carlene Mooneyham, secretary;
Karen McIntyre, treasurer; Linda Lewis and Carolyn
Talley, directors; and Estelle Christensen, past president.
This muscle mass is also supported by
a number of standing committee members.
The Woman’s Club serves the Three
Rivers community in numerous ways, largely through
The Thingerie thrift shop. The Thingerie is the best
place to shop in all of Tulare County! Why? Stop by
and find out.
The new officers will continue to pilot
the way for all club members to collaborate, share
in activities, and give back to our community. “In
union there is strength” (club motto).
The Three Rivers Woman’s Club is
having a membership drive through the end of July.
Anyone who has been thinking about joining the club
or has questions, contact membership chair Annie Hayes,
Kay Packard is the
2010-2011 publicity chairlady for the Three Rivers
VIPs wanted to patrol community
It’s summertime and the river is
enticing. Many residents are currently exploring ways
to assure that private property is respected while
still having river play that’s available and
One of the ways to have a more peaceful
experience is to have more eyes and ears from the
Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. Extra coverage
by deputies is gratefully acknowledged, but it is
obvious that the deputies cannot be everywhere at
once. And here is where volunteers enter the picture.
Anyone who is over 21 and has a clear
police record can be a Volunteer in Patrol (VIP).
There is now a “fast track,” so the process
moves more quickly from application to being in the
VIP truck on daytime patrol here in Three Rivers.
VIP duties include alerting on-duty sheriff’s
deputies of possible problems, conducting emergency
traffic control, doing resident/house checks, and
performing other duties as requested by the Department.
For routine patrols, VIPs self-schedule,
and there is not a required number of hours to fulfill.
All patrol time is greatly appreciated in the community.
Information and applications are available
online at www.tularesheriff.info.
Click on “Recruitment,” then “Volunteer,”
then “Volunteers Programs,” then “Volunteers
For more information, call Clancy Blakemore,
a local VIP, 561-4435.
3R Little League team
wins 2010 championship
by Eric Beedle
The Raptors, a minor Little League team
made up of players from Three Rivers, made history
two weeks ago. A decisive 13-2 victory over the defending
champion Express in the last game of the tournament
sealed the overall championship for the Raptors. That
victory made the 2010 Raptors the first team of Three
Rivers players to win a championship in the Exeter
At the beginning of the season when coaches
Dave Howell, John Vincent, and myself picked up our
official roster, a championship season seemed like
a long shot. It was a big team with 13 players, eight
of whom had never played organized baseball before
and also with the youngest player in the entire Exeter
The kids worked great with the coaches
and each other and they improved every week. Our first
loss came in game eight, and we lost only one more
game in the championship tournament.
We built our defense around solid pitching
by our two most experienced players/pitchers, Dillon
Howell and Clayton Vincent. Jordan Price, Callie Vincent,
and Cole Frasier had a good season, playing the majority
Andrew Meadows and Hannah Sherwood came
on strong at the end of the season. First-year players
Avery Thorn, Carson Beedle, and Dylan Mills all hit
the ball, got on base a lot, and played good defense.
Cal Williams, Jakob Bischoff, and Seth Varela played
solid all year.
I want to thank our sponsor Justin Price
Construction, the Exeter Little League board for allowing
us to continue having a team up here and, of course,
our fans who braved the cold and then the heat to
cheer us on to victory after victory.
Eric Beedle of Three
Rivers is the manager of the Raptors.