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In the News - Friday, August 10, 2012




Woodlake High School stadium

improvements underway


By Holly Gallo


  Four years after its $4.5 million facility-renovation bond was passed by district voters, Woodlake High School has broken ground on a new and improved football field and stadium. On Wednesday, Aug. 1, Woodlake Unified School District staff, board members, and others participated in the ceremonial turning of shovels to mark the occasion.

  The renovations will include a new nine-lane, all-weather track to replace the degenerating dirt track that currently circumnavigates the dilapidated football field, which will also be receiving a makeover. The plans also include lumen lighting, 1,000-seat bleachers for the visiting team’s section, concession stands, and bathrooms for the home and visiting teams’ sides.

  The nine-lane track and new lights are expected to be completed  in as soon as six months, therefore bringing the sports facility back into limited action.

  Future renovations are expected to bring a new, more elaborate entrance to the field, which will be moved from its original location on the southwest corner of the field to the corner of Cypress and Sequoia at the northwest corner.

  Of the myriad issues that will be addressed during the improvement project, a priority is the playing surface.

  “We were hoping to have a synthetic playing surface, but we’ll have a natural grass field,” said Tony Casares, director of alternative education and WUSD interim superintendent.

Casares proudly noted that the future field of Tifway 419 Bermuda grass is the same type used on the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals home field.

  “It’ll be high quality stuff,” he said.

  In order to maintain the quality of the new field, there will be new irrigation and drainage systems that will also alleviate poor drainage from the swimming pool, which tends to accumulate and drown the softball field, as well as weather-related water saturation of the football field itself.

  Scott Hernandez, WHS Tigers football coach who also teaches history at the school, is looking forward to the upgraded playing conditions.

  “Having a new track also means being able to hold legitimate track and field events, which will get people out here to see what we have going on,” Hernandez said.

Casares hopes that in being able to host such events, Woodlake will be able to infuse new energy, revenue, and spirit into the community.

  “What else do you do on a Friday night?” Casares asked. “We don’t have a movie theater.   We don’t have a roller rink. We don’t have an arcade. You go to the football game. We really want to make this [stadium] a destination.”

  Woodlake junior Wesley Stevenson, a lineman on the varsity football team and grandson of the legendary Coach Leo Robinson — for whom the football field is named and who coached at WHS for 40 years — is looking forward to playing on the new football turf.

  “The field has gotten old, and it’s torn up,” he said. “ It’ll be nice to play on grass, and it will bring more people to the games.”

  Despite the anticipation surrounding the improvement plans, Hernandez voiced concerns about the interim before the construction’s completion.

  “It’s all positive, other than the fact that we’ll have to spend 10 games on the road,” he said. “It’s going to be worth it, but it’s going to be expensive.”

  On top of having to pay for transportation to a season of away games, the school will face further consequences of the temporary loss of a major source of revenue in hosting sports games at home.

   Additional funds from the 2008 bond, as well as modernization and maintenance funds, include the building of seven new classrooms at Bravo Lake High School, which were used for the first time during the 2011-2012 school year; permanent seating, stage area, lighting, and sound system renovations for the Performing Arts Building; and an additional two and possibly three tennis courts in addition to water access and electrical power in the vicinity.

  “These are all things that have to be done slowly,” Casares explained. “The groundwork will be put in, but the funding for it is just not there right now. We have to hold off and do what we can do.”

  Casares hopes that when the community starts to see the progress being made to the school’s facilities, Woodlake High School will become a place that “people can really be proud of.”

  “Hopefully, in the next two years, this place will look completely different and the kids will be excited… when we get more students involved, we make the high school experience better,” he said.


New postmaster has Kaweah Country roots


Lemon Cove postmaster to retire


  When Shirley Martinez, the newly appointed Three Rivers postmaster, saw the job posted on the U.S. Postal Service online listings in June, she jumped at the chance to apply. No stranger to Three Rivers, she knew exactly what to expect if she landed the position.

  Shirley was born and raised in Woodlake, is an alumnus of Woodlake High, and counts some Three Rivers folks among her closest friends. She and her husband, Richard Martinez, continue to reside in Woodlake, while Richard also works in Three Rivers.

  “When I was growing up, my dad, Bill, who worked shoeing horses, and my brother, Rocky, used to come up each spring and rope in the Lions Team Roping in Three Rivers,” Shirley recalled. “Those weekends at the roping arena are some of my fondest childhood memories.”

  Shirley’s mom, Florence, was a longtime kindergarten teacher in Woodlake so education was also a priority. After graduating from Woodlake High School with the Class of 1982,  Shirley attended College of Sequoias where she earned an A.A. degree in liberal arts.

  She worked several years after that with a private company until she landed a clerk’s job with the post office in 1998. After completing the supervisor’s training program in 2005, Shirley worked some OIC (Officer-in-charge) assignments that gave her the experience to be a postmaster.

  That opportunity came with the Three Rivers appointment.

  “I have wanted to be up here for quite some time,” Shirley said. “I love the beautiful drive up and the people who I work with here are professional and are well-liked by the community.”

Shirley said for years she has done her banking here, Three Rivers Drug is her pharmacy, her doctors were here, and now her job is here too.

  “I love it up here; how everyone knows everyone,” Shirley said. “This job for me is the whole package — friendly people and an opportunity to serve the community.”      


Lemon Cove

postmaster to retire

  As Shirley begins her Three Rivers career, Janet King, who with her husband Dave are longtime Three Rivers residents, is preparing for her retirement effective August 31 from the postmaster post at Lemon Cove. Janet worked for six years at Three Rivers until she assumed her current position 14 years ago.

  “It’s been my pleasure to serve these nice folks of Lemon Cove and I will certainly miss all the fruit they have brought in over the years,” Janet said.

  Janet hopes to have more time to go back to Illinois to visit her grandbaby and her daughter, Jessica. In a curious twist of fate, Jessica met her husband in Korea who just happened to be from a town in Illinois only 20 miles from where Janet was raised.

  Janet said her son-in-law is attending graduate school in Illinois so when she returns to visit family she will make the rounds and be able to see all her old hometown friends, too.


Body of hiker recovered in

Kings Canyon National Park


  The body of Gary Dankworth, 60, of Carson City, Nev., was recovered in a remote wilderness area of the Middle Palisades near Norman Clyde Peak. Dankworth had not been seen since he departed his campsite on Saturday, July 29. 

  Dankworth, an experienced backcountry traveler, was at the popular hiking and climbing area above Big Pine in an attempt to summit Norman Clyde Peak. According to the reporting party, Dankworth left his camp at Finger Lake in the morning and intended to return later that same day.

  When he failed to return, his companions reported him missing on the following morning. The search was coordinated by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department and involved four helicopters and search-and-rescue personnel from several agencies.

  The body of the missing hiker was discovered August 2. The cause of Dankworth’s death is under investigation.

  This SAR operation occurred just a week after the body of Thomas Heng, 31, of San Rafael was recovered by searchers. Heng had departed on a day hike to summit Mount Langley in Kings Canyon National Park when he failed to return and was reported missing. His body was recovered on July 25.

  In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks during July, 18 search-and-rescue operations occurred. This is compared to July 2011, when there were eight SARs.


New chef, new name at Wuksachi Lodge

dining room will offer ‘Peak’ experience


  Wuksachi Lodge, a full-service hotel nestled in the heart of Sequoia National Park and operated by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, recently announced the appointment of new executive chef Jeff Graham to its culinary team.

  The mountain hideaway also unveiled a new name for its restaurant. Previously known as The Wuksachi Lodge Dining Room, “The Peaks” is a nod to the towering summits visible through the dining room’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

  Bringing six years of culinary experience to the table and a passion for using local ingredients, Chef Graham shares the Lodge’s commitment to sustainability, as well as DNC’s environmental initiatives that include supporting the National Park Service’s Healthy Parks, Healthy People campaign.

  Already taking advantage of what the San Joaquin Valley has to offer, Chef Graham is forming regional partnerships with organic produce farmers, hand-crafted chocolate and ice-cream makers, grass-fed beef ranchers, and more. Guests of The Peaks will see the results of these partnerships on frequently updated menus that reflect the area and Chef Graham’s tastes. Recent specials included an entrée of pan-seared venison medallions with a blueberry and juniper demi-glace and a deep-dish caramel apple pie for dessert.

   Guests with food sensitivities will also appreciate Chef Graham’s approach.

  “In addition to expanding our lower-calorie options, we’re planning to offer more gluten-free dishes,” he said. “We are happy to accommodate guests with food allergies as creatively as possible, and nutritional information for any item on the menu is always available upon request.”

  Graham joins Wuksachi Lodge most recently from The Lodge at Yosemite Falls, also operated by DNC. There he served as sous chef overseeing the Mountain Room and later as executive chef at the property’s Curry Village. In 2006, he graduated magna cum laude from Western Culinary Institute. He is currently pursuing ongoing education in nutrition, allergens and healthy diets and special diets.

   Open year-round, The Peaks serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Advance reservations for dinner are recommended and may be made by calling 565-4070, ext. 0.



  From banjos to horses


By Andrew Glazier


  “Give me the banjo!” Mark Twain once said. And this is the title of a gem of a documentary that follows the long, somewhat shady history of the banjo from its origins in Africa through the American south up to today with its experimental, modern uses in the world music scene.

  The movie is full of amazing and often racist stories from the “black face era.” With the recent passing of Earl Scruggs, this film is timely for music lovers everywhere.

  Another film in the same genre is Throw Down Your Heart, starring Bela Fleck, a famous banjo player who travels to Africa to find the roots of the banjo there. This story, while inspiring, left me wanting more.

  Finally two horse stories are perfect for those who ride and everyone else. War Horse is a wonderful story, reminiscent of the golden era of Hollywood films.

Buck is a must-see documentary about the man who inspired the movie Horse Whisperer. The protagonist claims he doesn’t help people with horse problems, he helps horses with people problems.

  Get your friends and watch this movie. It is amazing to see unbroken horses quickly learn to trust this unknown, yet respectful and understanding human who never raises a hand to them. If you were to watch one movie tonight, it should be Buck.

  Andrew Glazier of Exeter rents his DVDs from Chump’s DVDs and Blu-ray in Three Rivers.


DUI factors into three local crashes


  A recent spate of summer season incidents involved drivers who were negligent and tested fate by drinking prior to getting behind the wheel. Each case resulted in a serious accident.

  On Monday, July 30, a 1990 Chevy Silverado pickup truck was southbound on North Fork Drive as it approached the curve one-quarter mile from the intersection with Highway 198. Traveling at a high rate of speed, the driver, Guillermo Villareal, 32, of Tulare, hit a road sign and drove straight into the barbed wire in the adjacent pasture and, after rolling over and taking out about 70 feet of fence line, came to rest on the vehicle’s side against a tree.

  The pasture side of the road, and the yards of several residences on the opposite side of the roadway, have been the site of numerous crashes. Locals call the curve in North Fork Drive “Dead Man’s Curve,” and in this 6:35 p.m. accident, both Villareal and his passenger, Bobby Fink, 30, also of Tulare, were fortunate because they survived.

  Villareal was arrested for DUI, driving with a suspended license, and driving without insurance.

  “He [Villareal] will be required to pay a fine and attend drunk driver’s school but he has issues from the past indicating he never fulfilled the requirements from a prior case,” said   Officer Chris Wright of the Visalia CHP. “There is a good chance Mr. Villareal will come to our attention again and be driving without a license.”

  In the predawn hours of Thursday, Aug. 2, the Salt Creek Bridge vicinity was the scene of another solo vehicle accident. That mishap occurred when a 1962 Volkswagen Beetle driven by Tyler Jacobus, 22, of Exeter was heading west and crossed over the center line before crashing into exposed boulders on the south side of the roadway.

  Apparently, that crash was caused when the right front axle broke, causing the driver to lose control and careen off the roadway. Unfortunately for Jacobus, it was determined he had been drinking prior to the 2 a.m. accident so he ended up being arrested for DUI.

  The most recent accident occurred Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 8:10 p.m., in Lemon Cove and demonstrated that a driver’s negligence can in a heartbeat maim others. That crash occurred when Billie Molaison, 20, of Visalia was driving a 1986 Honda Accord westbound on Highway 198 east of Road 217 when she pulled off onto the shoulder.

Immediately, Molaison turned back into the oncoming lane in an apparent attempt to make a U-turn. That’s when she collided with a 1967 Mustang being driven by Michael Schievelhut, 64.

  Schievelhut suffered serious injuries to his chest and face. Molaison was arrested for felony DUI, driving without a license, and no insurance.

  The felony charge is mandatory when there is an injury in an accident where the driver has been charged with DUI. According to CHP records, Molaison has never had a valid California license and it will be some time before she legally gets one.


Renovation ongoing on 3R commercial building


By Holly Gallo


  The old familiar buildings along Sierra Drive between Anne Lang’s Emporium and Chump’s DVDs are now nearly unrecognizable.

  Almost three months into the renovation project, the property’s aesthetic changes may tug nostalgic heartstrings, but they could actually be good for the businesses on the site.

Dirk Dole of Paso Robles began basic cleanup immediately after purchasing the property approximately eight months ago.

  “The building is in wonderful condition structurally,” Dole said, but he wants to get it looking in “top one condition.”

Larry Jules, hired by Dole to head the reconstruction process, agreed, though he notes “termites and dry rot had taken its toll.”

  In addition to exterior refurbishing, the businesses will benefit from updated insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, and better lighting.

  Aiming to finish in September, Jules said that the renovations will transform the business fronts to a more “up-to-date” look.

  “It’s going to look great,” Dole said. “And when that happens, tenants do better, property value of the surrounding area increases, and we make Three Rivers a more beautiful place.”

  The commercial property, currently home to Sierra Surplus and Survival and Sayler Saddlery, will soon welcome Geoff Glass Photography and Village Antiques. There are an additional two commercial spaces available, at 400 square feet and 1,280 square feet, respectively.

  While in the process of modernizing the property, pieces of Three Rivers’s history began to emerge as well. For a brief period during July, a sign above Sayler Saddlery reading “Frozen Food Center” was visible before major restorative work began on the property.

  The uncovered sign belonged to the Three Rivers Locker Plant, bought in 1951 by the late Bill Hart (1927-2012). The meat locker was next door to Dixon’s grocery store, bought the year before by Vernon Dixon.

  When the flood of December 1955 hit the town, Dixon’s and Hart’s businesses took a major beating.

  “The flood took out our well, our pump, the compressors under the buildings, the leach field,” Dixon recalled. “We had to rebuild everything.”

  Almost 10 years later, in 1963, Dixon and Hart became business partners. The merger formed Dixon and Hart’s Village Market.

  “Dick Lang, Anne Lang’s husband, had an ice machine that we bought from them,” Dixon said. “We were one of only a few people in town that had ice.”

Jules said that he had wanted to save the “Frozen Foods” sign and send it to the historical museum in Three Rivers. However, the sign was painted on stucco and impractical to preserve.




Ann Reimers

1919 ~ 2012

  Ann Burke Reimers, a 42-year resident of Woodlake, died Friday, July 27, 2012. She was 92.

  Ann was born in Visalia on September 5, 1919. After graduating from Visalia High School, she attended the University of California for three years and graduated from Smith College in 1941.

  She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and an avid lover of the outdoors. Her Woodlake home is nestled among the oaks along the banks of the St. Johns River, where she was an orange grower, expert equestrian, philanthropist, and raised thoroughbred race horses.

  Ann’s house and heart were a refuge for unwanted dogs and cats. With Ann at the wheel driving her white pickup truck through town, there were always multiple canine passengers enjoying the ride.

  Ann was a devout Catholic and attended mass daily. The church was only one of Ann’s favorite charities.

  She gave new meaning to the term “Tiger Boosters.”  Whether flipping burgers at high school football games or working at the Tuesday Bingo fundraisers, Ann was always ready to serve.

  She supported the Woodlake Food Pantry, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, California Agriculture Leadership, Cat Haven, local SPCA, dog rescue, and numerous other charities.

In 1975, Ann was preceded in death by her husband of 33 years, Don Reimers. In 1996, she was named Woodlake’s Woman of the Decade by local service organizations.

  Ann will be missed by many,  including her niece, Loren Booth; and Loren’s son, Jake Sill and wife Chiara and her daughter Blair and husband James (Bubba) Moffett; nieces Jenny Booth and Stephanie Murray; and nephew Spike Booth.

  The Chavez family, Rogelio and wife Rose Elena and their children, Veronica, Brenda, Joel, Abel, Andrew, Andrea, and Rogelio Jr., were always there to brighten Ann’s days in many ways. 

  Her caregiver and special friend with a contagious smile and positive spirit, Mona Lynn Letson, gave Ann so much in her last few years. 

  Ann was a remarkable, independent, generous woman and will be missed.

Recitation of the Rosary was held at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church of Woodlake on Thursday, August 2. Mass of Christian Burial was Friday, August 3. Burial was private

In lieu of flowers, those who wish may donate in Ann’s memory to one of her favorite charities. Call Brenda at Booth Ranches (636-4732) for information.


Betty Jackson

1925 ~ 2012

  Betty Ann Wilson Jackson of Visalia died Sunday, July 15, 2012. She was 86.

Betty was born in Chicago, Ill., on November 4, 1925, to Jerry and Ora Herman. She graduated from the University of Chicago with an English degree.

  She met her future husband Hal Wilson while at college. After graduating and getting married, the couple moved to California, settling first in Van Nuys, then later moving to Pacific Palisades. They divorced in 1960.

  Betty went to work as the church secretary at Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church, where she was employed for 36 years.

  The year she retired, she married Bob Jackson, whom she had known since elementary school. They lived in Santa Monica until Bob’s death in 2005.

  Later that year, Betty moved to Visalia to be near her daughter, Karen McIntyre.

  “She was a strong, beautiful lady and a loving mother and grandmother,” said Karen. “She was a caring friend to those fortunate enough to have known her. She had faith in God and believed there is a better world for her beyond these earthly constraints.”

  Betty is survived by her daughter, Karen Wilson McIntyre of Three Rivers; son Gregg Wilson; and two grandsons, Darrell and Kyle McIntyre.




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