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In the News - Friday, June 29, 2012



Motorist survives

plunge off MK Road

  Adwait Athale was driving down the Mineral King Road in the predawn hours of Friday, June 22, when he failed to negotiate a sharp curve near milepost five. The driver plunged off the roadway, crashed through the vegetation, and hit a boulder before coming to rest 200 feet below on the steep hillside.
   Athale, 21, of Visalia was trapped inside the wrecked 2000 Honda Civic for at least four hours. According to a report from a Three Rivers man who lives nearby, the victim’s cries for help were heard by a family on their way up the road to Silver City.
   The family then summoned the resident and he called 911 at 7 a.m. A short time later, rescue personnel began arriving who contacted the victim in preparation for his extrication from the vehicle.
   After determining the extent of Athale’s injuries, rescue personnel prepared an affixed litter and lowered it down the steep embankment.
   The rescuers below at the crash site placed the man on the litter and he was slowly hoisted back up to the roadway where paramedics were standing by.
   Athale told his rescuers he had been stargazing and taking photos in the Mineral King area prior to the 3 a.m. accident. He was transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital via ambulance for observation.
   No other information as to his condition or the cause of the accident has been made public. The CHP expects to have a more complete report on the accident by July 5.

3R gets new postmaster

  Shirley Martinez has been appointed as the new Three Rivers Postmaster. She is currently working at the Exeter station.
   Martinez succeeds Lori Ontiveros who retired in April. She will officially assume her duties sometime after July 11.
   Following the retirement of the former postmaster, postal officials did not immediately announce if and when a new postmaster might be appointed. According to the officer-in-charge, an evaluation was completed of the Three Rivers operation and, based on the number of postal boxes and volume of mail, the status of the 93271 station was officially upgraded.
   That upgraded status, for now, means that Three Rivers will continue to be staffed with a postmaster.

Road construction ongoing

on Generals Highway

  A long-term construction project is ongoing on the historic Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park between Ash Mountain and Giant Forest. The construction zone is located from Amphitheater Point (11 miles from the park entrance station) to Deer Ridge (12.5 miles from the park entrance; 4.25 miles below Giant Forest).
   Saturday-Sunday, June 30-July 1: Traffic is regulated with timed signal lights with waits of no more than 20 minutes.
   Monday, July 2: Traffic will be led through on the hour from 7 am-5 pm. Road is closed to traffic 9 pm-6 am with one pass-through at 11:30 pm.
   Tuesday, July 3: Traffic will be led through on the hour from 7 am-noon. Beginning at 12 pm, traffic is regulated with timed signal lights with waits of no more than 20 minutes.
   Wednesday-Thursday, July 4-5: Beginning Tuesday at noon, traffic is regulated with timed signal lights with waits of no more than 20 minutes.
   Friday, July 6: Traffic will be led through on the hour from 7 am-5 pm, then revert to the 20-minute signal lights for the weekend.
   For the latest information on traffic delays, call 565-3341 (press 1,1,1) or inquire at park visitor centers.

Spot fires started by catalytic converter

  Imagine a vehicle driving through Three Rivers in the summer, spewing fire along the roadway and the driver not even aware of what’s happening. Apparently that’s what occurred on Saturday afternoon, June 23, when the county’s emergency dispatcher received multiple calls of fires burning near Sierra Drive.
   At least three fires were doused by firefighters. The first blaze was discovered just west of the entrance to Slick Rock Recreation Area.
   That fire was literally stopped by a large rock face on the south side of the highway. Had the flames burned up into the nearby steep terrain there is no telling where or when that blaze would have been stopped.
   Another spot blaze burned against a large tree off the shoulder of Sierra Drive in the vacant lot adjacent to the Three Rivers Historical Museum. Evidently, someone kicked dirt on that fire before it could spread to nearby tinder-dry grass.
   Another fire occurred across the highway from Sierra Lodge and burned toward residences located on that hillside. It began burning toward several nearby structures but quick work by firefighters and good clearance by the nearby property owner contained that fire at less than one-quarter of an acre and averted a potential disaster.
   According to Cal Fire Captain Greg Neeley at least two of the spot fires could be confirmed as ignited by a catalytic converter from an unknown vehicle. Ceramic parts of a disintegrating converter were found at two of the scenes.
   Apparently, the snuffing out of the fire near the museum obscured any evidence that may have been at that scene.
  “What happens in these older cars if the catalytic converter is not properly maintained is that they begin to fall apart,” said Captain Neeley. “The tremendous heat that burns the particles for cleaner emissions is then directed out the exhaust pipe.”
   When that heat touches dry grass, it’s a potential flashpoint. The Kaweah Fire in August 1996, which threatened Three Rivers homes and burned more than 4,000 acres costing millions to extinguish, was started when a car was parked in dry grass, igniting the vegetation with its hot exhaust pipe, while its occupants were taking a dip at Edison Beach on Kaweah River Drive.

Two fires being managed

in Sequoia-Kings Canyon

  On the heels of the Whitaker Prescribed Fire, a 500-acre project being jointly managed by the National Park Service and UC Berkeley’s School of Forestry, a prescribed fire was ignited Tuesday, June 26, in the Circle Meadow area of Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park.
   The Whitaker burn was ignited over a period of four days beginning Thursday, June 21. It will now continue to burn within its boundaries and “is holding well,” according to Deb Schweizer, Sequoia-Kings Canyon fire education specialist.
   The Circle Meadow Prescribed Fire was ignited Tuesday, June 26. Originally planned was to burn two segments totaling 183 acres, but the fire was scaled back to 114 acres due to diminishing air quality that is accompanying the current increase in temperatures this week.
  “With  the warmer temperatures and more stagnant air, we [San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the parks) agreed that the good dispersal window is coming to an end,” said Deb.
   As a result of the Circle Meadow Fire, closures are in effect on some popular trails during the week of Fourth of July, a heavy visitation period for the parks. The Circle Meadow loop trail and the Bears Bathtub Trail are closed while portions of the Congress, Washington Tree, and Alta trails are also closed.
   Smoke impacts, which to date have been minimal, will continue as both fires burn. North Fork Drive residents should expect smoke from the Whitaker Fire in the early-morning hours while the Middle Fork canyon will experience smoke wafting down-canyon during the late nights and early mornings. Smoke will settle in over Giant Forest during the daytime hours.
   A small, lightning-caused fire is currently burning near Siberian Pass in Sequoia National Park. It is located at about the 10,000-foot elevation level and is about a half acre in size.
   The purpose of the parks’ prescribed fire program is to reduce forest debris that could provide fuel for an unintentional, larger fire while also opening the forest canopy to create healthy growing conditions. In addition, giant sequoias depend on fire to open the cones and release seeds for germination.

Closed for the season

(photo caption)

  River access along Kaweah River Drive that is managed by Southern California Edison is closed to the public on weekends and holidays. This is due to complaints by nearby property owners of the impacts caused by increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic, such as trash, congestion on the narrow roadway, and fire danger. The river may be accessed for a fee at Lake Kaweah recreation areas and in Sequoia National Park.

Apache trailers circle the

wagons at Sequoia RV Ranch

  When it comes to attracting RV crowd to Three Rivers Lori Brooks has no peer. Lori, who hails from Bakersfield, wears a number of hats in her job at Sequoia RV Ranch on the North Fork in Three Rivers, including camp host and director of group sales.
   And when she’s not checking in guests or taking care of every camper’s needs, she’s researching one RV group or another trying to persuade all who listen that Sequoia RV Ranch is a great place to visit, park your rig, and meet with members of your group — not to mention fish and swim in the river and take a side trip to the giant sequoias just up the road.    This past weekend (June 23-25), Lori and her husband Steve, camp hosts at Sequoia RV Ranch, hosted the California Apache Roundup of 30 member trailers.
   Most of these vintage trailer enthusiasts are from California but one each came all the way from British Columbia and Kentucky. The chapter president, Greg Schnaible of Anaheim, said he was pleased with the showing, especially since most of these vintage Apache trailers are found east of the Mississippi.
  “We first got a look at what Sequoia RV Ranch had to offer last year,” said Greg, president of the fast-growing California-based chapter of Apache owners. “Last year we had 10 who came to Three Rivers and this year we tripled that number.”
   The highly popular Apache camp trailer was invented in the 1950s by Eugene Vesely in Lapeer, Michigan. A trademark for the Apache make and model was issued in 1959 and its explosive development the next two decades had enormous importance for a burgeoning RV industry.
   Vessey’s company manufactured a line of practical, easy-to-set-up camp trailers, the predecessors of today’s modern pop-up lightweight trailers. The original Apaches that dominated the market in the 1960s and ‘70s were streamlined, easy to tow and, best of all, affordable.
   In 1965 the Apache made the transition from soft-top (canvas) to hard-top campers for their top-of-the-line models. The Golden Buffalo was Apache’s first hard top and it came loaded with features. Two beds slid out from the front and back while the top raised to form the roof.
   The price was $895 in the mid-1960s equivalent to $6,000 of 2012 dollars. Rounding out the 1965 line were the more budget conscious Raven ($525) and the Chief ($445).
   The California Apache owners had their annual meeting on Saturday followed by a potluck supper.
  “We treat these campers like members of our own family,” said Lori. “We’re already making plans for the Apaches to return next year.”
   These RV groups have become big business for Sequoia RV Ranch and pump lots of tourist dollars into the local community. Lori said next on her wish list is the Northern California Teardrop Trailer Association.


Bill Hart

Former owner of

'Dixon and Hart's Village Market'

1927 ~ 2012

  William Eugene Hart, a 61-year resident of Three Rivers, died Saturday, June 23, 2012, at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. He was 85.
   A memorial service will be held Monday, July 2, at 10 a.m., at Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. A reception will follow at the church’s Harrison Hall.
   Bill was born May 2, 1927, in Inglewood to Clarence Eugene Hart and Lillian Hesbacher Hart. He was raised and educated in Inglewood.
   Because of a childhood accident, Bill was denied enlisting in the military during World War II, so he became a Merchant Marine.
   On his 20th birthday — May 2, 1947 — he married the former Frances Elaine Johnson. In 1951, the couple moved with their family to Three Rivers, where they raised their three sons.
   That same year, Bill purchased the Three Rivers Locker Plant, starting a new career as a butcher. In 1963, he and Vern Dixon became business partners when they opened Dixon and Hart’s Village Market.
   A couple generations of Three Rivers children knew they could always count on a cookie when visiting Bill at the meat counter. Many will have fond memories of Bill at Christmastime, when he would wax up his signature handlebar mustache and hang bells from it.
   One of Bill’s many passions was community service. Upon moving to Three Rivers, he joined the Three Rivers Lions Club and has been an active member for the past six decades. He served as Lions president in 1956-1957.
   For years, Bill enjoyed preparing and cooking the Lions’ famous deep-pit barbecued beef at the Three Rivers Roping. Over the years he served on many local boards to help make Three Rivers the great place that it is.
   In 1964, the Three Rivers Union School PTA awarded Bill with its annual service award for his volunteer contributions to the children of the community.
   In 1993, after 42 years of being a dedicated meat-cutter, Bill decided to hang up his butcher knives and retire. It was at that time, he and Elaine decided that RVing would be the next chapter of their lives. Over the next several years, they traveled over 100,000 miles while visiting all parts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
   Many will remember one or more of Bill’s nicknames. The origin of Wild Bill Hart is unknown to the family, but because of this name, Wild Bill’s is the label on a seasoning that   Bill created more than 40 years ago. These days, it is commercially made and sold by Mike Scott of Exeter, who was raised in Three Rivers and, during the 1970s, was trained by Bill as a meat cutter.
   Sweet William was given to Bill for being a nice guy and giving out cookies to his customers’ kids.
   Two Gun Hart was coined by Al Radka, a Fresno television and radio personality from the 1950s to the ‘70s.
   Bill will be remembered as a selfless man with deep integrity, enduring strength, and great humor, which was always accompanied with an infectious smile. Always true to himself, he exhibited kindness, humility, and honesty in all his relationships, earning love and respect from all who knew him.
   Bill was preceded in death by his son, Kenneth Hart (1948-2007), his parents, and his sister, Dorothy.
   Bill is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Elaine; two sons, Gary Hart and wife Heidi of Nome, Alaska, and Bruce Hart and wife Joan of Durham, Calif.; and four grandchildren, Elena, Madalyn, and John Hart and Heather Schoffner.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to a charity of the donor’s choice in Bill’s name.

Carolyn Fisk
1943 ~ 2012

  Carolyn Fisk of Three Rivers died Monday, June 11, 2012. She was 69.
   Carolyn was born May 6, 1943, in Manhattan Beach to Glen and Mary Langston. She attended Mira Costa High School.
   While living in the Silicon Valley, she met her husband-to-be, Larry Fisk. They were married in 1964.
   The couple moved to Three Rivers in 1989 and purchased The Gateway Restaurant and Lodge, which they owned for 11 years.
   Carolyn was a member of the Redbud Garden Club and a volunteer at the annual Comfort for Kids project. She enjoyed traveling with her sister, Phyllis, with whom she shared adventures in Europe, and with her daughter, Pam, to Costa Rica to visit her son, Steve.
   Carolyn was preceded in death by her husband of 36 years, Larry (1936-2000).
   She is survived by her sons, Colin Fisk, Steve Fisk, and Jimmer Fisk; daughter Pam Fisk; grandchild, Siena Fisk; and sister Phyllis.
   A graveside service was held Saturday, June 16, at Three Rivers Cemetery.

Bryan Schuyler
1977 ~ 2012

   Bryan Lee Schuyler, a former resident of Three Rivers currently residing in Buena Park, died at Chapman Medical Center in Orange on Thursday, June 21, 2012. He was 34.
   A celebration of life ceremony will be held Saturday, June 30, at 3 p.m., at The Gateway Restaurant.
   Bryan was born in San Diego on September 21, 1977, to William and Joy Schuyler. A son of the military, he grew up in Hawaii, Guam, Maryland, and Florida, graduating from Seminole High School (Fla.) in 1995.
   In 2000, Bryan moved to Three Rivers to help his uncle, Glenn McIntyre, run The Gateway Restaurant and Lodge. He relocated to Southern California in 2006 to pursue a career in printing and graphic design.
   Bryan’s proudest achievement was his son, Ezra Banuelos Schuyler. Bryan will be remembered for his passion for life, loyal friendship, and love for his beautiful son.
   Bryan is survived by his parents; siblings William Jr., Timothy, and Stefanie; and his five-year-old son, Ezra.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Ezra Schuyler Educational Fund at the Three Rivers branch of Bank of the Sierra.

Jeffrey King, M.D.
1947 ~ 2012

   Jeffrey M. King died at his Visalia home on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, after enduring many years of pain from primary amyloidosis and multiple myeloma He was 65.
   Dr. King operated a private practice medical office in Three Rivers from 1990 to 1994. He relocated his practice to Tulare in 1994, where he has worked as a family practice physician for the past 18 years.
   Dr. King is survived by his wife, Patti; children, stepdaughter Melinda and husband Matthew of Fresno, stepson Brian and fiancée Kristin of Fresno, and stepson Shawn of San Diego; and three grandchildren.
   A memorial service was held Tuesday, June 26, at Salser and Dillard Funeral Chapel in Visalia.


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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