In the News -
Friday, JULY 29, 2005
For the second time in as many weeks, a traffic accident
on state Highway 198 near Lake Kaweah resulted in a fatality.
Two weeks ago, a Hanford man died when he was ejected from
a vehicle in which he was a passenger when excessive speed and alcohol
consumption combined to cause the driver to lose control and roll over,
possibly multiple times.
Last Saturday, July 23, just after 5 p.m., John Montano,
47, was riding his motorcycle with his wife as a passenger westbound on
the approach to Kaweah Recreation Area. His 2003 Harley-Davidson Road
King collided with a 1988 Oldsmobile Royale that attempted to make a left
turn onto the highway from the recreation area’s parking lot.
Montano, from Visalia, died from injuries he suffered in
the crash. His wife also suffered major injuries and was transported to
Kaweah Delta Hospital.
According to a California Highway Patrol report, the driver
of the Oldsmobile was a 24-year-old woman from Three Rivers who was returning
home with two children as passengers. The woman is reportedly seven months
pregnant and was also transported to the Visalia hospital after complaining
of abdominal pain.
The CHP investigating officer said the area in the vicinity
of Lake Kaweah is especially busy in the summer on weekends because of
boating traffic and visitors driving to and from Three Rivers. The cause
of the accident, he determined, was failure of the car’s driver
to yield the right-of-way.
The intersection where the accident occurred is made even
more dangerous by a curvy section of highway immediately east of the parking
area. Because of a large oak adjacent to the roadway on the highway’s
south side, drivers attempting to exit the parking area have only three
seconds to see an oncoming vehicle approaching westbound at 55 m.p.h.
Recently, as the lake’s level has dropped, more vehicles
can be accommodated in the recreation area used mostly for swimming and
as a secondary boat ramp. The increase in traffic in the area, and the
fact that there are more motorcycles on the road than ever, were contributing
factors to the accident.
MOTORCYCLE USE CLIMBS,
SO DOES ACCIDENT RATE
Nearly 4,000 Americans died on motorcycles in 2004 —
85 percent more than in 1997. That total represents about 9 percent of
all motor vehicle fatalities (up from 5 percent in 1997).
The median age of motorcycle riders was 41 in 2004, compared
to 27 in 1985. About 45 percent of motorcycle deaths involve riders over
40, compared to 9 percent in 1985.
The CHP was assisted at the scene prior to their arrival
by a Park Service ranger. The road was closed for two hours while the
accident was cleared.
3R Golf Course
A casualty of the recent run of triple-digit temperatures
is the Three Rivers Golf Course. On Tuesday, after an inspection tour,
owner Steve Oh decided to close the nine-hole riverside course effective
today (Friday, July 29) until repairs could be made to several of the
greens and some fairway sections.
At this time, there is no scheduled reopening date. Two employees,
Rudy Marinez, golf pro, and Kurt Gardiner, greens-keeper, will be retained
to help in the course’s restoration.
the first time we’ve had to close during the hottest part of the
summer,” said Ted Faris, who recently worked part-time in the pro
shop as a starter. “It’s obvious that the course needs some
work and, hopefully, they can reopen in time for the fall season.”
The Orange Tree
For owner and lifetime citrus farmer Bob McKellar, the weeklong
celebration and grand opening of The Orange Tree Restaurant is the next
step in his longtime dream of making fresh-from-the-farm produce readily
available for his Tulare County friends and neighbors. The timing was
right for this latest venture — a restaurant and fresh-produce outlet
— because an ideal roadside location became available at the end
of last season.
That location, formerly Foothill Fruit Company and later
the Red Barn, is located on Highway 198 at the Woodlake turnoff (Highway
216), an important crossroads for ranchers, boaters, most of the local
workforce, and thousands of tourists on their way to Three Rivers and
Sequoia National Park.
In the late 1990s, the location, then known as Foothill Fruit
Company, enjoyed some success under the original owner, Jeannie Magan.
Magan and her husband, Tom, were the original developers of the property.
Magan decided to lease the property after a couple seasons
of too m any hours and diminishing returns. Joe Harmon and his former
wife, Phyllis, then leased the place operating for the next couple of
years as the Red Barn.
The couple really specialized in barbecue and local regulars
continued to be the mainstay of the business. In 2003, Harmon transferred
his Red Barn interest to an Exeter family partnership that decided not
to continue operating the business after the 2004 summer season.
Earlier this year, Jeannie Magan, who was previously acquainted
with McKellar Farms of Ivanhoe, began getting the place ready for its
next tenant — The Orange Tree — and, finally, just before
the busy Memorial Day weekend, the place opened to a very appreciative
For the next month or so, employees came and went until McKellar,
73, found what he thinks is the right team to run a very unique establishment.
THE FRESH-FARM CONNECTION
What will be unique about this place, McKellar believes,
is that once the word is out, many new customers will come for the produce
but stay for the food.
“Our aim is to
serve as the area’s hometown stop,” said McKellar. “We
feature a casual atmosphere designed to make locals and visitors comfortable
— cattlemen, farmers, truck drivers, office workers, boaters, and
bicyclists, as well as picnickers on their way to the parks.”
Jeannie Magan has agreed to stay on as assistant manager
to oversee quality control. The reins of the day-to-day management of
the area’s newest restaurant have been turned over to San Juanita
Garcia. Juanita recently was a manager at Serrano’s Mexican restaurant
and before that worked for the same family managing three outlets in Fresno.
Garcia is no stranger to long hours or hard work, certainly
a large part of what is required to make any restaurant a success.
“We joke about
the restaurant’s ‘homemade’ salsa and chile verde,”
Garcia said. “They are actually recipes that I learned to make in
preparing food for my family.”
There are lots of orange-inspired recipes like mandarin orange
pie, orange salads, orange dressing and, of course, fresh-squeezed orange
juice. Earlier this week, a new orange muffin was added to the pastry
On the barbecue is Kevin Canter of Three Rivers. Canter is
a transplanted New Yorker but it didn’t take him long once he came
to Kaweah Country to discover the local grilling traditions. He honed
his skills at Village Market in Three Rivers. His style is currently being
described as High Sierra-Santa Maria with a touch of hip-hop.
Commuters and visitors will especially enjoy the attractive
takeout dinners featuring tri-tip, chicken, and pork ribs. The value-priced
family meal includes a generous serving of all three. The Orange Tree
chicken dinner consists of a whole chicken marinated in a scrumptious
Help Three Rivers School
Tulare County schools are preparing to embark on a competition
among themselves in an attempt to be the recipient of $1,000, and it’s
up to residents in each respective school district to ensure their school
is a winner by shopping and telling their friends and family to go shopping,
The annual contest, sponsored by the Visalia Mall, is called
“Cash Back for Schools.” The program aims to provide schools
with money for special projects and events that may not otherwise be in
So, here’s the deal: Whether buying furniture, school
clothes, an engagement ring, or just a cookie at the Visalia Mall from
Monday, Aug. 1, through Friday, Sept. 30, take all accumulated receipts
to the Customer Service Center (near the mall’s north entrance next
to Pet Fair) before leaving. The receipts will be recorded, stamped, credited
to the customer’s school of choice, and returned.
For each dollar spent, the school receives the corresponding
amount in points. Anybody, no matter what their age or where they reside,
is eligible to participate and credit their receipts to Three Rivers School.
Up-to-date results will be tallied on a wall board in the
Customer Service Center so shoppers may check on their school’s
points and ranking at any time.
At the competition’s end, one elementary, middle/junior-high
school, and high school each with the most points will be awarded a $1,000
The Visalia Mall is located on the southwest corner of Mooney
Boulevard and Walnut Avenue in Visalia.
Get ready to hit the links again this fall in support of
Woodlake High School. For the third year, the WHS Foundation is sponsoring
a golf tournament with all proceeds going directly to the school to assist
in the funding of facilities and programs, as well as a large amount to
students in scholarship dollars.
The tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, with signup
at 10:30 a.m. and a shotgun start at noon; a dinner and awards ceremony
will begin at about 5 p.m. The cost per player is $75 or $300 for a team
of four, which includes a golf cart, lunch, and Barbecue Rib Feed dinner
(non-golfer dinner: $20).
The Foundation has a goal of having 36 teams participate
in the four-man scramble format.
By winning the hole-in-one contest, golfers will have a chance
to win a new car, donated by Bret’s Auto Center in Dinuba. Prizes
will be also be awarded for “closest to the pin,” “longest
drive,” and the “Las Vegas hole.”
Not a golfer? You can still support the Foundation by sponsoring
a tee for $25 or making a donation of a prize or money.
The tournament will be held at Hank Swank’s Woodlake
Ranch Golf Course.
To register or for more information, call Diana Pearcy, Foundation
New café is
There’s a new café in town and it serves the
regular — coffee, tea, soft drinks, and snacks. But this 21st-century
café’s main entrée is access to the computer world.
Currently, the new 3 Rivers Cyber Café is the cool
and air-conditioned place to be and a hot spot for visitors and locals
to surf, to chat, to game, or just hang around the ‘Net and learn
about cutting-edge technology.
To hear owners Tony and Pat Moreno tell it, they couldn’t
be more pleased with what their customers are saying since they opened
the doors of the Sierra Drive business that is located just up-canyon
from the Three Rivers Market .
comment we are hearing, especially from visitors who surf the Internet
everywhere they travel, is how inviting and accommodating we are here
in Three Rivers,” said Tony Moreno. “They really love our
combination of hometown and high-tech.”
Moreno says so far his business, which has been open since
July 2, has been about 60-percent visitors and 40-percent locals. He expects
that trend to continue for the next couple of months during the busy tourist
season, but then he will focus on providing more services for locals like
computer classes and forums for specific users.
The way the Internet access works is, first, a customer must
purchase time by increments as little as 30 minutes for $3.50 or cheaper
rates by the hour for unlimited use. In comparison, the rates in Las Vegas,
for example, could be as high as $6 per half-hour.
The Internet customer is issued an access card that works
like a gift card or phone card and can be used in any duration as the
computer logs the minutes. When time is up, the card can be renewed.
Visitors are performing an array of Internet tasks including
checking email, sending emails with photos, and searching for information.
“Recently, we had
an Australian lady who went online to do her banking and another gentleman
who reserved a car rental,” Tony said. “There’s really
no limit to the information available at a click of a mouse.”
But why would locals use this Internet if they already are
connected at home? The Morenos said a number of locals are coming in to
do specific tasks that require high speed.
DSL is up to 40 times faster than any dial-up service,” Moreno said.
“So for those folks who can’t get DSL or live outside of its
signal range, our service will become indispensable.”
Tony also said he has been surprised by the number of customers
who have already called about repair and service.
to your place and pick up your computer just to make certain that everything
is disconnected and hooked back up properly,” Tony said. “Then
I’ll bring your computer back to the shop and do a complete diagnostic
for only $25.”
If Tony can pinpoint the problem and is able to fix it, the
$25 is applied to the cost of the repair. Most problems he has encountered
so far have been viruses and spyware that eventually find their way into
most personal computers via email and the Internet.
Pat Moreno says that a list is also being kept for users
who have expressed an interest in becoming part of a class or forum.
In the off-season, Pat said, there will be more time to develop
this part of the business that also helps people learn more about all
the capabilities of Three Rivers’s first and only cyber café.
FACILITIES AND MANAGEMENT
Currently, there are five workstations, and wireless users
may use the Wi-Fi Hotspot signal that the Morenos manage so there is no
waiting in line to use a computer.
"We expected to
go through an adjustment period while we are learning the business,”
Tony said. “What we want to do right from the start is build a reputation
for great service and make certain that all who come in have a positive
Lightning sparks fires
Two lightning-caused fires are currently burning in the Cedar
Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. The fires were first discovered
Friday, July 22.
The fires, which have now combined, have been named the Comb
Fire. It is located at about 7,000 feet in elevation and two miles north
of Cedar Grove.
Although being monitored, the fire will be allowed to burn.
A wildfire in 1980 and a prescribed fire in 1998-99 have somewhat reduced
ground fuels in the area, making it easier to manage.
As of July 28, about 345 acres had been consumed. As a result,
the Lewis Creek Trail, north of its junction with the Hotel Creek Trail
The fire could potentially grow to 1,000 acres before reaching
rocky areas that will hinder its spread.
THUNDERSTORMS IN FORECAST
It is inevitable that more lightning-caused fires will be
discovered in the Sierra as the weather forecast is calling for thunderstorms
throughout the week. If in a remote area and away from people and development,
the fires are usually allowed to burn naturally.
SILVER CITY FUEL REDUCTION
Earlier this month, a mechanical fuel-reduction project was
initiated in the Silver City area along the Mineral King Road. The project
thinned 15 acres of forest vegetation to reduce the risk of a catastrophic
wildland fire in the area that is heavily populated with summer cabins.
The collected debris will be burned later this year.
Additionally, five acres of small trees and dead-and-down
wood were also cleared near Park Service facilities in the Atwell Mill
area. Since 2002, about 50 acres of forest have been thinned and cleared
in these areas.
Master Class concludes
Classical music lovers will have a rare opportunity to hear
the extraordinary flutist Tracy Harris perform at St. Anthony Retreat
on Thursday, Aug. 4. Tracy will be in town for four days to teach a Master
Class for aspiring flute players, some of whom have traveled great distances
to study with a performer of Tracy’s caliber.
A real prodigy, Harris was recognized at age 16 by legendary
flute teacher Dr. Julius Baker. Dr. Baker is not a household name by any
stretch of the imagination, but among flutists he is regarded with reverence
as one of the most demanding and best instructors ever.
Baker invited Tracy to attend the prestigious Julliard School
of Music. Tracy chose instead to attend the New England Conservatory,
and after graduation was one of a handful of flutists chosen to participate
in a highly-selective Master Class taught by the late Jean-Pierre Rampal,
considered by many to be the greatest flutist of all time.
Today, Tracy’s credentials are extraordinary, and there’s
a chance to discover this wonderful artist for yourself in Three Rivers.
The performance will begin at 8 p.m. and there’s a
wonderful evening of music in store. The always-superb Wyndfall Trio will
present compositions for flute, harp, and piano. From the Master Class,
the three Yamaha prizewinners will perform their competition solos. And
a flute choir of all Master Class attendees will charm the summer air
with lilting melodies and breathless harmonies.
Tickets are available at the door. $12 adults, $10 seniors,
$8 children under 12.
NOTICE OF DEATHS
WALTER SEABORN— A former resident of Three Rivers and
South Fork rancher, recently of Bend, Ore., died Sunday, July 24, 2005.
ELSIE RAGSDALE— Born Oct. 6, 1919, Elsie died at her
Lemon Cove home on Friday, July 22, 2005. She was 85. She is survived
by her husband of 70 years, Whitney Ragsdale; four sons; and three daughters.
Services were held Monday, July 25.