this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
COUNTRY VISITOR GUIDE
When the thermometer and
heat index rise into triple digits, extreme
fire danger comes along with the territory.
Sometimes all it takes is a spark and,
poof!, there’s fire.
That’s what happened
twice this week, so local firefighters
are asking everyone to be extra careful
and to call 911 immediately if they see
fire or even smell smoke. It’s always
better to call for a precautionary fire
or smoke check than wait until there’s
an out-of-control blazing inferno, which
can occur during these conditions within
a matter of minutes.
On Monday, July 7, a Three
Rivers Drug customer, upon leaving the
store around noon, noticed flame on the
roof of the commercial building located
at 40915 Sierra Drive. Fortunately, firefighters
stationed nearby responded immediately.
They doused the flame but
couldn’t say for certain what caused
a small area on the roof to ignite. A
captain at the scene said it was just
one of those spontaneous blazes that are
recorded in the station log with no apparent
“There were some leaves and debris
on the roof near the cooling unit, but
we can’t say for sure what sparked
the fire,” the captain said.
On Wednesday, July 9, another
blaze broke out in the vicinity of the
Western Holiday Lodge along Sierra Drive.
That blaze started a small grass fire
near a power pole but was quickly extinguished.
The cause of that fire is
believed to have been started by a spark
from the power pole.
Iraq War veteran
to Kaweah Country
In 2006, when the Tulare
County Fire Department announced that
it would be reopening Station 13 in Lemon
Cove, there was nobody happier than Bryan
Wagner. Joining the local fire department
was a career goal of Wagner’s and,
living nearby, he relished the opportunity
to serve the local community at Station
But after joining the newly-organized
Tulare County Fire Department as a paid-call
firefighter, Wagner answered a higher
calling and took leave of that duty to
enlist in the U.S. Army. In October 2007,
Bryan was deployed in Iraq as a member
of the 529th MP Company.
Late last year, while on
patrol as a gunner on a Humvee, Wagner’s
vehicle took two direct hits from enemy
explosives and he was among four soldiers
wounded. Specialist Wagner suffered the
most severe injuries in the attack and
for the next six months he was hospitalized
at Walter Reed Army Medical Center near
After undergoing 12 surgeries,
which included amputating his right leg
just below the knee, Wagner is on the
mend and anxious to get back to his company
or maybe even start a new job with Tulare
County Fire Department.
On Tuesday, July 8, at 10:30
p.m., Wagner returned for the first time
to his family’s Mehrten Valley home.
He was greeted with a hero’s welcome
at the corner of Highway 198 and Mehrten
Assembled there to recognize and say thanks
for Bryan’s sacrifice in the line
of duty were a host of fire chiefs and
firefighters, fire engines, an ambulance,
and dozens of friends and neighbors anxious
to greet the returning veteran. Both Bryan
and his parents stepped out of their vehicle
and warmly greeted the crowd, expressing
their thanks for the wonderful welcome
“We’re not sure what plans
the Army has for Bryan,” said Joe
Garcia, spokesperson for the TCFD. “But
if and when he is able to return to work
with the fire department, we would love
to have him back.”
Fourth of July
safe and sane
There is no simple explanation
as to the lack of incidents, but in terms
of emergency calls, the busy three-day
Fourth of July weekend was slow. When
it was all over Sunday evening, law enforcement
officers were sighing with relief that
there were no fatalities, no major accidents,
and remarkably only four arrests for DUI
(driving under the influence) in the entire
Visalia district of the California Highway
On Wednesday, July 9, CHP
officers were not quite sure what to attribute
the latest July 4th DUI statistics (down
from 22 in 2007) because it wasn’t
for a lack of manpower. Extra officers
were out all weekend long but there wasn’t
a major incident in the entire Highway
198 corridor from Lake Kaweah to Sequoia
“Maybe the public is finally starting
to get the message,” said a CHP
spokesperson. “Or maybe some folks
just chose to stay home and save gas money.”
A check of local Three Rivers
tourist activity was in a word “busy.”
No records were broken but given the economic
uncertainty, most merchants and innkeepers
were pleased with the spike in weekend
Everything was booked solid
for July 4th and there wasn’t a
campsite to be had anywhere in Kaweah
Country. By Saturday evening, there was
a smattering of vacancies, but those tourists
on the move were spending lots of dollars
on everything from cold beverages to hot
Most business owners were
elated with the weekend’s receipts.
“I have to rhapsodize a little bit
about some Swiss guests we had recently,”
said Margaret Roberts, innkeeper at the
newly opened Rio Sierra Riverhouse on
Sierra Drive. “They were on an extended
U.S. tour of all the best parks and attractions
and they said Three Rivers and the Kaweah
River were, by far, the highlight of their
But it was the potential
crush at local swimming holes that had
law enforcement the most concerned. Up
and down the Middle Fork of the Kaweah,
it was busy but peaceful.
The biggest crunch for parking
spaces was near the Slick Rock Recreation
Area. As has been customary so far this
summer season, that locale had plenty
of illegally parked vehicles and a number
of the unsuspecting drivers received a
citation for their lack of judgment.
Lake Kaweah officials are
hoping the new parking lot and boat ramp
facilities scheduled to go to construction
soon will ease the congestion and parking
problems at Slick Rock and the Cobble
Farther upriver, at the North
Fork recreation sites and the Edison swimming
hole near Powerhouse No. 2, river revelers
were greeted by closures. Bureau of Land
Management personnel were posted along
North Fork Drive throughout the weekend
to inform motorists of the no-parking
ban and the closures at the Cherry Falls,
Advance, and Paradise recreation areas.
“It was ironic that the BLM used
staff biologists who volunteered for the
duty because no law officers were available,”
said one sheriff’s volunteer who
patrolled the area Sunday. “Just
having the presence of the two uniformed
personnel at the North Fork sites seemed
to be enough of a deterrent.”
At the popular Edison swimming
hole, the posted “Closed”
signs had a similar effect. Some swimmers
entered the water near the Dinely Bridge
but the there were no large crowds or
parking jams like weekends of the past.
“Maybe closing the Edison area for
the busy holiday weekends is part of the
solution to the problem,” said Geoff
Glass, a neighbor who is a member of a
proactive group in that area. “We
don’t think a permanent closure
of the area is necessary, but it’s
obvious something had to be done.”
Glass also said that he has
been very impressed by the response of
Sheriff Bill Wittman.
“We voiced our concerns and he got
the message that we needed more deputies
up here,” Glass said.
The presence of the deputies
also helped keep the peace at Slicky during
the past weekend. On Sunday, more than
100 swimmers had congregated at the popular
swimming hole near the middle of town.
Rod Simonian, who lives across North Fork
Drive from Slicky, said he saw a deputy
walking along the river and making sure
that everybody was playing by the rules.
“There was a big crowd of people
there, but I’m sure that knowing
a deputy was patrolling the area kept
things nice and peaceful,” Simonian
The weekend update from the
Tulare County Fire Department was more
of the same. No citations were issued
for fireworks in the Three Rivers area
although one resident reported hearing
some gunshots or firecrackers.
“Countywide, we had 36 complaints
related to fireworks but no major incidents,”
said Joe Garcia, TCFD information officer.
A century ago, foothills
and Central Valley residents had no air-conditioning
to keep them cool during the 100-plus
days of summer. Instead, they packed nearly
everything they owned, loaded it onto
a horse-drawn wagon, and headed into the
mountains to camp amidst cooler temperatures
This is one small part of
the fascinating history of Sequoia National
Park, which is the nation’s second
oldest national park, created by Congress
in 1890. That history is now documented
in a new publication that will share Sequoia’s
story with the world.
Author Ward Eldredge of Three
Rivers has been the museum curator for
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
since 1998, meaning there is no one better
to compile the more than 200 historic
black-and-white images and research and
write the descriptions included in this
latest addition to the Images of America
series. Using rarely seen
photos from the parks’ archives,
Sequoia National Park offers a visual
history of the people who preserved Sequoia
and the places that have made it so worthy
The book covers the first
50 years of Sequoia National Park, when
Three Rivers residents stepped up to offer
their assistance, becoming the first rangers
and even the first civilian superintendent.
From the giant sequoia groves
to the highest mountain peaks, from the
engineering of roads and trails to the
building of ranger stations and administrative
buildings, from Ansel Adams to the Zumwalts,
vintage photographs offer a glimpse into
Sequoia’s storied past.
Sequoia National Park is basically a visit
to a museum without leaving your armchair.
Learn about the Kaweah Colony and its
part in the creation of, and access to,
Sequoia National Park.
Read about Visalia Delta
editor George Stewart’s role in
the formation of Sequoia and where his
ashes were strewn. Meet Sequoia’s
only African American superintendent.
See the CCCs’ (Civilian
Conservation Corps) numerous improvements
made during the 1930s, many of which are
still in use today. And meet the locals,
the everyday folks, and those more well-known,
all who were instrumental in ensuring
the preservation into the 21st century
and beyond of one of this nation’s
most precious resources.
Also in the book are photographs
of the spectacular scenery located within
the boundaries of Sequoia National Park.
With most of the parkland accessible only
by trail, this will be many readers’
first and only foray into Sequoia’s
Also available is a set of
15 postcards created from photos of days
gone by. Depicted are the Big Trees, U.S.
Cavalry, Moro Rock and its original wooden
stairs, the old Giant Forest Lodge dining
hall, peaks and passes, the harrowing
Hamilton Gorge bridge, and even a park
tourist feeding wildlife that in a mere
snapshot reveals how much has changed
over the past 120 years.
Arcadia Publishing has been
publishing the Images of America series
since 1993, documenting the history of
hundreds of communities, other points
of interest, and national parks, including
Yellowstone, Yosemite and, most recently,
But what is a Sequoia book
without a companion “Kings Canyon”?
“I have just submitted the draft
for the Kings Canyon title,” said
All profits from the sale
of the Sequoia National Park book and
postcards will be donated to the Sequoia
Natural History Association. They are
available at all Sequoia-Kings Canyon
visitor centers, independent and online
bookstores, or Arcadia Publishing at:
Garden of eatin’
Although the students have
gone home for the summer, the Three Rivers
School garden they planted and nurtured
last spring has thrived. The vegetables
were harvested this week, and the entire
bounty will be donated to the Three Rivers
Bread Basket food pantry.
West Nile virus
As of July, seven mosquito
samples collected in Visalia have tested
positive for West Nile virus. It is estimated
that about one in 150 persons infected
with WNV will develop a more severe form
of the disease.
County residents are urged
to increase their awareness of potential
mosquito-breeding grounds. Be on the lookout
for homes that are unoccupied as this
increases the chances that there will
be standing water — which is where
mosquitoes breed — such as non-maintained
swimming pools or backyard ponds.
To reduce exposure to mosquitoes,
use a repellent that contains DEET, dress
in long sleeves and pants at dawn and
dusk, and eliminate all standing water.
Symptoms of WNV can include
fever, headache, tiredness, body aches,
swollen lymph glands, and occasionally
with a skin rash on the trunk of the body.
Severe symptoms are neck stiffness, stupor,
disorientation, convulsions, and even
paralysis or coma.
For more information on mosquito
concerns, call the Delta Vector Control
Park fire restrictions
As of today (Friday, July
11), Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks are instituting fire restrictions
within the parks.
Due to high fire danger,
no wood or barbecue fires are permitted
below 6,000 feet, except in designated
campgrounds. Fires may not be used at
the Ash Mountain or Hospital Rock picnic
areas or in the backcountry below 6,000
In addition, no smoking is
permitted below 6,000 feet, except within
a developed area, a campground, or an
enclosed vehicle. Extinguish cigarettes
fully and dispose of them carefully, and
never throw a cigarette out of a car window.
These fire restrictions are
intended to reduce the possibility of
an accidental, human-caused fire that
could threaten visitors, employees, neighboring
communities, and natural resources.
Parks help public,
and visa versa,
be more climate-friendly
Ask anyone who’s serious
about climate change and they will tell
you it’s about reducing our carbon
footprint. To help promote awareness of
how you can help, national parks throughout
the U.S. are inviting people everywhere
to reduce carbon emissions and credit
their reduction to their favorite park.
Dubbed the Climate Friendly
Parks Initiative, Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks are inviting everyone to
a daylong kickoff event today (Friday,
July 11) at Wuksachi Lodge.
This is how it works. On
July 11, the Climate Friendly Parks program
will debut its interactive, online web
activity called “Do Your Part!”
The public can participate by logging
on anytime at Wuksachi Lodge from 9 a.m.
until 8 p.m.
While folks are logging on
at Wuksachi, a special workstation will
also be set up and manned at the Three
Rivers Historical Museum/Sequoia Foothills
Chamber of Commerce from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
for those not able to make the trip up
to Wuksachi. Three lucky winners will
be chosen from all those who locally pledge
on July 11.
Prizes include a two-night
stay at Wuksachi, an Interagency Annual
Pass, or a couple of round-trip tickets
on the Sequoia Shuttle from outside the
park to connect with the free internal
shuttle. Participants who sign up at either
venue (Three Rivers or Wuksachi) are eligible
for the drawing.
The National Parks Conservation
Association (NPCA) developed the “Do
Your Part! For Climate Friendly Parks”
program to allow everyone to learn more
about climate change while helping their
favorite parks. People can use the website
to calculate their carbon footprint and
pledge to take certain actions to reduce
carbon emissions in their daily lives.
They can then credit their reductions
to a park of choice.
Craig Axtell, Sequoia and
Kings Canyon superintendent, said the
national program is to publicize how parks
can reduce emissions and be more sustainable
“We need folks to participate here
and we encourage everyone to credit their
reductions to Sequoia and Kings Canyon
For more information on doing
your part for the local parks, call Alexandra
Picavet, parks spokesperson, at 565-3131.
On Saturday, July 5, thunderheads
began building over the Sierra Nevada
Mountains, becoming more concentrated
each day since. Thunder could be heard
from Three Rivers during the afternoons
this past week as the storms intensified.
Afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence
in the Sierra during July and August.
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce recently updated, expanded,
and printed an exciting new tourism brochure
and map of Three Rivers and the surrounding
gateway communities. Aimed at visitors
to our area, this new brochure is available
at the Chamber office, local Chamber events,
the Visalia Chamber of Commerce visitor
center, and key California Welcome Center
locations throughout the state.
Expanding on the old brochure,
this new marketing product unfolds to
a finished size of 18-by-12 inches, allowing
for plenty of room to offer visitors the
information they need for a memorable
stay. Similar to the previous
brochure, this one also includes inviting
and inspiring text about the uniqueness
of Three Rivers, a calendar of events,
and a list of businesses.
Different this time, however,
is a general map of Three Rivers, orienting
the visitor to the town, Lemon Cove, Lake
Kaweah, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks and Bureau of Land Management lands.
Chamber members were provided
with the opportunity to advertise their
business through this brochure, and nearly
one-third of the membership took advantage
of this important marketing tool.
The brochure lists member businesses
and their contact information next to
the map in the following categories: lodging,
camping, dining, shopping, attractions
and activities, and services. Listings
correspond to a number showing the business’s
location on the map.
On behalf of the Sequoia
Foothills Chamber of Commerce, special
thanks to the members who sponsored their
listing in the brochure and to all our
local businesses who aim to provide visitors
with outstanding service during their
Article by Johanna Kamansky,
Reverend Warren L. Campbell
1926 ~ 2008
He founded the Kaweah church
45 years ago
Warren Lee Campbell of Kaweah died in
his home Tuesday, July 8, 2008. He was
A memorial service will be
held Saturday, July 19, at 11 a.m., at
the Church at Kaweah.
Warren was born in Red Oak,
Iowa, on April 5, 1926, to Charles and
Maude Campbell. The family moved to California
when he was about three.
Warren never graduated junior
high, but attended Bible College in Los
Angeles for about three years.
At the age of 16, Warren
joined the Merchant Marines, where he
saw battle in World War II, which entitled
him to veteran status. An able-bodied
seaman, Warren kept that rank until his
Warren received his call
into Christian ministry when he was 20,
beginning as a pastor at Venice Beach
in Southern California. A few years later,
on July 14, 1950, he married the former
Margaret Davis. Warren and Margaret would
have celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary
next week; she was at his bedside when
he passed away.
In 1963, Warren and Margaret
moved to Kaweah with their three young
children. In 1966, the family’s
home on North Fork Drive was destroyed
by a flood.
At that same time, the Campbells
were fighting to get a building permit
for the church that has now stood at 44069
North Fork Drive for nearly a half century,
originally called the Kaweah Community
Church. Many within the communities of
Three Rivers and Kaweah did not want the
church to be built.
Petitions were circulated
from as far away as Orosi and Delano to
stop the building permit process. Pastor
Campbell gathered signatures in favor
of the church being built, and as a result
always retained a special love for the
cowboys of Three Rivers who rallied to
In the mid 1990s, the 50,000-watt
radio station in Delano regularly referred
to Pastor Campbell as “the preacher
Warren’s ministry took
him to a number of foreign countries.
In 1982, he was invited to the presidential
palace of then-president Rios Mont of
Warren was a minister for
over 60 years and pastored in Kaweah for
the past 45 years. Kaweah has had the
proud distinction of three generations
of preachers at the church that Warren
founded as his son, Warren Mark, and grandson
Warren Luke have followed in his footsteps.
In 1983, Warren was preceded
in death by his son, Jonathan, who was
also a minister.
He is survived by his wife,
Margaret; daughter Christine Bowles and
husband Walter of Springville; son Warren
and wife Jill of Kaweah; six grandchildren;
and three great-grandchildren.
Donations in Pastor Campbell’s
memory may be made to the Church at Kaweah,
P.O. Box 75, Kaweah, CA 93237.