the News - Friday, July 17, 2009
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
MK bridge deemed
Every three years when inspectors from
Federal Highways make their appointed rounds looking
at all the bridges in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks, there are bound to be some surprises. On July
13, after inspecting the bridge at the end of the
Mineral King Road, an immediate closure was ordered
that surprised a number of visitors.
There were approximately 30 vehicles
parked in and around the Disney-owned parking lot
area in East Mineral King whose owners were undoubtedly
surprised and a little confused. Signs announcing
the closure were placed on either end of the narrow
bridge that spans the East Fork of the Kaweah River
at the uppermost crossing of the Mineral King Road.
Most visitors to Sequoia National Park
never see the tiny bridge or road’s end in the
scenic Mineral King valley. Monday’s closure,
however, caught dozens of Mineral King hikers off-guard
and had cabin owners in East Mineral King pondering
the most prudent way to get back and forth.
Dan Blackwell, chief of Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks facilities and who is responsible
for getting the bridge repaired, said he wasn’t
surprised by the temporary closure.
In a statement issued after a July 15
squad meeting, Blackwell said the local parks were
aware there was a potential problem with the Disney
bridge located 25 miles from where the Mineral King
Road junctions with Highway 198 east of Three Rivers.
Blackwell said a number of the wooden stringers in
the substructure showed evidence of massive rotting.
Park workers recently had completed some
minor repairs to the structure, and there is an application
pending for more funding to complete the job, Blackwell
said. For the time being, outbound vehicles may exit
on the upper side of the bridge; vehicles approaching
the bridge from down-canyon are being directed to
park in turnouts west of the structure and walk across.
Blackwell said his department hopes to
complete a more permanent fix to the bridge sometime
next week to accommodate visitors who are planning
to attend the Krebs Wilderness dedication ceremony
scheduled for Thursday, July 23. Vehicles crossing
the bridge, he said, will be limited to four tons
of gross weight.
The Mineral King ranger reported Thursday
morning that the bridge will be closed completely
starting Monday, July 20. Blackwell agreed that the
closure is in the best interest of employees and visitor
safety and is confident the repairs will be complete
and the bridge reopened by Saturday, July 25.
The “Disney bridge” gets
its name being associated with the parking lot also
called the Disney parking lot because it is on land
still owned by the Walt Disney Company. Several parcels
in Mineral King were acquired by an agent for the
famous Burbank-based entertainment company during
the late 1960s in anticipation of a ski resort that
was never developed.
3R declared official weather
When a society and its members are dedicated
to collecting the history of a community, what better
place to record local weather information? That’s
just what the National Weather Service Forecast Office
in Hanford was thinking when they established a data
collection station at the Three Rivers Historical
On Thursday, July 9, Steve Mendenhall,
meteorologist in charge of the Hanford office, was
at the local historical museum to present its board
members with a plaque. The presentation was made after
Mendenhall explained what the local station does and
how it works.
The data is collected by a computer-automated
program that retrieves information from a small weather
station located adjacent to the museum. The hardware
part of the station setup measures temperature, wind
direction and speed, humidity, and precipitation.
“Anyone can set up a weather station just like
this one,” Mendenhall explained to a small gathering
that had assembled to mark the occasion. “It
costs between $500 and $1,000 for the equipment, and
with a computer and an Internet connection, the station
can transmit continuous readings directly to our forecasting
Mendenhall thanked the local historical
society for help in getting the Three Rivers station
up and running. The plaque, he said, was a token of
his agency’s appreciation. Mendenhall said that
anyone interested in real-time weather information
being collected at the Three Rivers station may access
the current data by logging onto:
President to nominate
President Barack Obama announced last
week his intent to nominate Jonathan Jarvis to be
director of the National Park Service. Jon Jarvis,
who has been an employee of the NPS for over 30 years,
is currently director of the Pacific West Region,
which includes Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
As regional director, Jarvis is responsible
for the 54 units of the National Park System in Washington,
Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the
Pacific islands of Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa.
He oversees 3,000 employees with an annual budget
of $350 million.
Prior to becoming regional director in
2002, Jarvis spent three years as the superintendent
of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. In the
1990s, he was superintendent of Craters of the Moon
National Monument in Idaho and Wrangell-St. Elias
National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Prior to his
superintendencies, he was chief of natural and cultural
resources at North Cascades National Park in Washington.
Candidates wanted for 3R boards
Four director positions on the Three
Rivers Memorial District board and two on the Three
Rivers Community Services District will be on the
November 2009 ballot as long as there are enough candidates
to make each a real race. Prospective candidates have
until Friday, Aug. 7, to decide.
There are two available four-year terms on the Memorial
District board that must be filled by veterans. Frank
Greninger and Frank Capalare currently fill these
seats; both were appointed.
Two non-veteran positions must also be
filled; one for a four-year term, another for a two-year
term. Dave Sherwood currently fills the four-year
seat; the short-term seat is currently vacant as director
Shirley Conway recently resigned.
The Memorial District board oversees
the local Veterans Memorial Building and its activities.
Throughout each year, the building hosts events for
the Three Rivers community and can accommodate 300
Eligible nonprofit groups, service organizations,
churches, schools, and governmental agencies use the
building. And each April it serves as two out of the
three Jazzaffair venues.
Two employees include a caretaker, Jeff
Taylor, who maintains the grounds and the interior
of the building. A building manager, Nancy Brunson,
handles bookkeeping and reservations.
Community Services District—
Two four-year terms are available on the Community
Services District board. Rex Black and Michael Cannarozzi
are the two directors on the five-member board who
are up for re-election.
Rex, who is currently president, was
elected to the board in 2006. Mike was elected in
A general manager, Randy Pares, oversees
day-to-day operations and reports to the board. The
main services provided by the CSD include monitoring
of river and well water and reporting findings to
the California Water Quality Board; providing water
testing for district residents; septic system inspections;
and reviewing and providing recommendations to County
of Tulare on septic systems and special-use permits.
Forms for declarations of candidacy may
be obtained from the Registrar of Voters, Elections
Division, 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia (across from
WELCOME TO MY FOOD COLUMN
I grew up eating European cuisine.
I thought everyone did. —Tina
TINA ST. JOHN has an impressive
pedigree when it comes to food. Her mother, Madeleine
St. John, was a native of Belgium and studied at Le
Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, where she met
Julia Child. Later, she ran the La Bonne Cuisine Cookery
School in Denver, Colo. Tina’s father, Bill
St. John Sr., was Denver’s first ever pediatric
dentist, but in his spare time was wine connoisseur,
pie baker extraordinaire, and as you will read in
this debut installment of Tina’s “Welcome
to My Food Column,” king of the kitchen on Saturday
mornings. Her brother, Bill St. John Jr., is a regular
columnist for Wine & Spirits magazine,
the author of Rocky Mountain Restaurants,
and was formerly a food critic for The Denver
Post and Rocky Mountain News.
Tina St. John
I love food and think about it often. It’s
been like that all my life. After all, I grew
up in a family of nine children with a French
mother who was a gourmet cook and a father,
a pediatric dentist, who made the best pies
and spaghetti sauce ever.
The kitchen was the main room in
our home. Perhaps some of my siblings would
dispute this, saying the dining room was. At
any rate, wherever there was food, either being
prepared or eaten, there we all were.
Saturday mornings were, hands down,
the best day to eat. Waking up to the smell
of my father’s buttermilk pancake batter
cooking on the griddle and butter sizzling in
a small saucepan over the stove was nothing
short of heaven on earth. His pancakes were
his pride and joy.
His own recipe was “made
from scratch,” as my mother boasted. Buttermilk
and love were his secret ingredients.
He customized the pancakes, spelling
out our names on the griddle. Boy, did we feel
special. I only wish he would have done our
last name too!
They were delicious, dripping in
melted butter and browned ever so slightly to
give it a bit of a nutty taste. Then there was
the maple syrup that dad would warm just right.
He had it down to an art. He would
say, “You have to eat it this way or you
won’t get the full benefit of the taste.”
Whatever you say, Dad; your wish
is my command.
So here it is, my dad’s beloved pancake
recipe. I just know he’s looking down
from heaven right now, smiling, proud that I’m
sharing this with all of you.
Tina St. John writes from
her Three Rivers studio. Her WELCOME TO
MY FOOD COLUMN is scheduled to appear every
other week. Next time: “The hungry kids
cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tbs. granulated sugar
1 qt. low-fat cultured buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten with a whisk
¼ cube melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix well the flour, baking powder,
baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix well the
remaining ingredients. Gradually and gently
add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture
with a whisk. Mix well but do not remove all
Bake on a lightly greased griddle set
at 375-400 degrees.
from Tina St. John’s “Welcome
to My Food Column,” published July 17,
2009, in THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH.
BIG CARS, LITTLE CARS:
day, cool car show
by Brian Rothhammer
Okay, so you may not have thousands of
dollars to customize Grandpa’s old Chevy or
to restore a Panhead Harley. But on Saturday, July
18, you can enjoy the fine rides on display at the
11th annual Woodlake Custom Car and Bike Show at Woodlake
City Park for free.
Not only that, but for the first time, the Woodlake
Valley Chamber of Commerce is also hosting remote-control
car races. The course will be on Magnolia Street alongside
“I was at the car show in Visalia and saw all
these little race cars,” said Rudy Garcia of
the Chamber. “It was like a miniature race track.
All these people were there watching and just having
a great time. There were trophies and everything.”
Rudy then sought out Johnny Trovao of
Tulare County R/C and invited the club to join in
the Woodlake show.
“It’s all about the cars, and I could
see that these little R/Cs really get people out there.
It gives them something exciting to watch along with
all of the beautiful cars and bikes,” added
“Our club has been around for 15 years, maybe
longer,” said Johnny. “What was really
cool [about the Visalia event] was the crowd of people
who had never seen an R/C race. R/C is fun because
you have all the competitive aspects of full-scale
racing without putting your body out there. You can
still go to work on Monday.”
Many club members also race motocross
and other motor sports.
“You can put a $35,000 engine in a big car and
it might blow up the first time out,” said Johnny.
“Someone can set themselves up completely to
run MO3-class R/C racing for about $250.”
The club has regular events twice monthly
at their “Xs Speedway” in Visalia. They
also have a permanent off-road track in Exeter.
The Visalia track is a portable setup
and is arranged differently every time out so that
there is no “home track” advantage. The
sport is growing fast and the Tulare County R/Cers
often race with other clubs. Currently, there is a
point series between Tulare County, Madera County,
Fresno County, Exeter, and Bakersfield.
At the Woodlake Car Show event, the 1/10-scale
cars will compete in at least 3 classes; MO3, modified,
and expert. Entry fee is $10 for one class and $5
for each additional class .
Anyone with an R/C car can be in the
races with two qualifiers and one main event for each
class. Just bring your car and join the fun.
And kids under 13 race for free. How cool is that?
This Saturday, set-up for the R/C races
begins at 7 a.m. and racing starts at 10 a.m. Entrants
can register onsite.
While in downtown Woodlake, be sure to
amble through the park and see the life-size cars
and trucks, motorcycles, and custom bicycles on display
at the car show. Like the R/C races, looking is free.
There will be vendors set up at the event,
and there are several restaurants within a short walking
It’s not too late to enter your
car, truck, or bike in the 11th annual Woodlake Valley
Chamber of Commerce’s car show! Entries will
be taken as late as 10 a.m. Saturday morning; judging
begins at noon.
And how does this sound for a great deal?
For the $15 entry, entrants get an event T-shirt,
a ticket for the 50/50 raffle, a meal ticket worth
$5 at any Woodlake restaurant, and a dash plaque to
commemorate their participation. Who knows, you may
also bring home a trophy.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Woodlake
Valley Chamber of Commerce, so get out there and let’s
see what you’ve got!
Compete at Tulare County Fair
Entry catalogs are now available online
at www.tularefair.org for those wishing to participate
in this year’s Tulare County Fair. The fair
is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Sept. 16, and will
complete its run Sunday, Sept. 20.
There is something for everyone. Even
if someone thinks they have no talent whatsoever,
just perusing the entry catalog will dispel those
For instance, table-setting is a category,
as are several types of floral arrangements. Houseplants
is another category open for competition in the Home
Cake decorating and several categories
of baking — cakes, cookies, breads, and more,
including a category just for men — will heat
up county ovens. Salsa, raisins, ice cream, and barbecue
are also not overlooked during fair competitions.
Other divisions include fine arts, viticulture,
and agriculture. There are also competitions for school
students and all children.
The theme of this year’s fair is
“Let the Good Times Roll.” Live concerts
will be held each day, and there will be hundreds
of exhibits, demonstrations and, of course, the midway
rides and traditional fair food.
The fairgrounds are located at 215 Martin
Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Tulare.