In the News - Friday, August 13,
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
School board candidates
Qualify for November ballot
Candidate filings for the Woodlake Union
High School and Three Rivers Union School governing
boards were finalized this week by the Tulare County
Elections Office. The Woodlake race has four candidates
for three seats while the Three Rivers election features
five candidates vying for three seats.
All three incumbents on the Woodlake
board — Richard Rochin, Charles Mills, and Edmund
Pena (Three Rivers) — are seeking reelection.
The lone challenger is Ralph Alley, who is hoping
some anti-incumbent sentiment might open up at least
In Three Rivers, only incumbents Scott
Sherwood and Bob Burke are seeking reelection. Bobbie
Harris, lifetime resident of Three Rivers and retired
TRUS teacher, is not seeking re-election.
The field of challengers includes Chris
Carpenter, George Kulick, and Sue Winters. All three
are parents of students who currently attend TRUS.
New at Woodlake High:
Teachers, rooms, semesters
The seasons are shifting from summer
to fall, and Woodlake Union High School is experiencing
changes as well. A half-dozen new teachers are endemic
of the turnover that is occurring at nearly every
high school campus in California.
The changes to the campus might be even
more obvious to observers. Replacing the four old
trailers are four new permanent classrooms. A new
set of bathrooms has also been completed.
Administratively speaking, vice principal
Tony Casares is no longer working at the high school.
However, he is still in the district, now working
at Bravo Lake continuation school located nearby the
district’s main high school campus. Taking his
place is former mathematics teacher Rick Rodriguez
who steps into the position of learning director/assistant
WHS is introducing seven new teachers
this year: David Boswell, English; Mark Browning,
Agriculture; Robert Castillo, English; Tori Johnson,
Leadership; Nathan Meik, Special Education; Ben Otto,
Math; and Tiana Ring, Math.
David Boswell grew up
in Oroville and received a B.A. in Philosophy at Chico
State. He later received his M.A. in Humanities from
Cal State Dominguez Hills. His teaching credential
was earned at the University of Phoenix.
Boswell said teaching was a second career;
for more than 20 years he served as a Protestant minister.
His most recent teaching position was with the Sacramento
City Unified School District, the most culturally
diverse district in the nation with 45,000 students
who speak 32 languages.
really impressed with my colleagues here at this school
district, and I’m hoping to teach at Woodlake
for a long time,” Boswell said.
Mark Browning will be
the new agriculture teacher, teaching Mechanized Agriculture
as well as physical and earth science.
Growing up in Modesto, Browning attended Cal Poly
where he earned his B.S. in Agriculture. He then received
his teaching credential at Fresno State.
Browning has been teaching for 11 years
and is looking forward to meeting and teaching the
students, as well as attending the Tiger football
am excited to be here and helping out and to make
a difference in the lives of these students,”
Robert Castillo (see
Neighbor Profile in the August 13 print edition) is
the new freshman English teacher. Born in Alaska,
Castillo spent his school years in Woodlake. He majored
in English and minored in Education at UC Santa Cruz.
He recently received his M.A. in Education (UC Santa
Cruz) after earning his teaching credential at Bethany
University. He has been a substitute teacher for three
years. This is his first full-time teaching assignment.
He will also help out as an assistant coach for the
JV football team.
Tori Johnson is not
new to Woodlake or to Three Rivers. She has been a
part of the WHS family for 11 years, coaching the
varsity volleyball team, as well as other sports teams.
In addition, she is involved in a variety
of community and school events as well as advisor
for the WHS Friday Night Live program. This
year, Johnson will be the Leadership instructor, as
well as teach the TCOVE Child Care class. As Leadership
instructor, Johnson will be in charge the school’s
student council and various school events.
hope to bring back an emphasis on school activities,”
said Tori, “like the lip sync and the carnival.”
Tori grew up in Pasadena and graduated
from Fresno Pacific University with a major in Liberal
Studies. This is her first teaching job at WHS and
she will continue as head coach of the girls’
Tiana Ring is new to
the math department this year. She will be teaching
college prep classes, four Algebra classes, and one
Geometry class. Ring grew up in Bakersfield, and attended
She received her B.S. in math in 2009 and her teaching
credential this year. This is her first teaching position.
am a little nervous,” said Ring. “But
I am also incredibly excited, and I can’t wait
for school to start.
Ben Otto and Nathan
Meik were not available for interview. Kathryn Keeley
contributed to this article.
Familiar faces joining
at Three Rivers School
Three Rivers Union School, like nearly
every school district in America, is belt-tightening
and preparing for some continued tough times when
it comes to balancing the budget.
For example, Sue Sherwood
is teaching the TRUS sixth-grade class. This year
will mark her return to the classroom after serving
as the school district’s superintendent and
principal for the past 14 years. Sherwood will also
continue the two administrative posts.
school is also bringing back former eighth-grade teacher,
Gail Matuskey, to temporarily fill
the third-grade teaching position. Previous third-grade
teacher, Linda Warner, will teach fourth grade, which
effectively eliminates the need for a third/fourth-grade
In other TRUS news, Sue Winters, the
school’s resource specialist, transferred to
Strathmore. She will be replaced by Patty
Moore, longtime Three Rivers resident who
has previously taught at TRUS, but recently retired
from Visalia Unified.
Arlin Talley, the pastor
of the Community Presbyterian Church, will come onboard
as a schoolbus driver. John Crabtree, the long-time
driver who is looking to retire, will now only be
required to drive a single shift, starting in September
with the addition of Talley.
Kathryn Keeley contributed
to this article.
Three Rivers School bond
By Greg Sweet
Three Rivers residents take pride in
their K-8 school and the ability to provide cultural
programs such as sports and the arts. In a town where
there are few private-sector options, these programs
are especially valuable to the children.
But, naturally, sports and arts programs
come at a price, and times are tough for Three Rivers
A general obligation bond, expected to
be on the ballot this fall, as well as one already
in effect, promise to improve schools in Three Rivers
Measure V, which is not yet listed on
the Tulare County elections website, will propose
a limited-tax pledge for TRUS.
just got the email myself,” said Susan Sherwood,
superintendent/principal, on Wednesday. “But
they are saying the measure would be a tax of $56
\per parcel per year for the next five years.”
Sue, who is pulling double duty by also
teaching the sixth-grade class this year, said that
in addition to supporting music, arts, and sports
programs, the bond would keep teachers in “single
classrooms” so that they will not have to simultaneously
teach multiple subjects in “combination classrooms.”
Without additional help from Three Rivers
residents, TRUS might be forced to join Woodlake Elementary
Unified School District.
“Woodlake is a fine school district,”
said Sue. “However, it is very important to
us that we retain our autonomy. This bond would keep
us from being blended with them.”
She noted that the two communities are
quite different and decisions regarding the Three
Rivers school ought to remain local.
Three Rivers students who go on to Woodlake High School
will find improvements funded by an existing bond.
C was passed in February 2008 on general obligation,”
said superintendent Tim Hire. “It pledged $4.5
million for new classrooms, sports, and performing
Plans also include the renovation of
the football stadium, including the addition of an
all-weather track made from recycled materials.
TRUS band teacher has La Sierra history
By Athena Saenz
During the week of August 1 to 7, young
musicians from all over the Central Valley attended
La Sierra Creative Arts Camp. The camp is held at
Camp Green Meadows located in Fish Camp near Yosemite,
and is a week full of music, fun, friends, and wonderful
This year, eight Three Rivers Union School
students were able to attend. I was so pleased that
more students were interested (last summer, there
were four), and I hope more and more are able to attend
in the future. This year’s crew was: Elliott
Arnold, Henry Pfaff, Claire Hamm, McKenzie Kelly,
Abbie Friel, Gunnar Little, Terran Brown, and Sage
La Sierra accepts music students that
are in fifth grade all the way through the summer
after their 12th grade year. No, you don’t have
to be a virtuoso or even a first-chair player in your
band to be qualified to go. You just have to have
an open heart, a craving for learning new music, and
the ability to just let go and have fun.
I attended La Sierra for the first time
when I was in seventh grade. It was amazing to be
in an environment full of music lovers.
I learned so much that year, and vowed
I would go back every summer. When my time ran out
(12th grade summer), I asked if I could come back
as a counselor and, lucky for me, they said “Okay.”
I have now attended my 11th year of camp.
So what do we actually do at La Sierra
music camp? Bottom line: have fun.
On the first day, the students audition
to be placed in one of two bands: the concert band
(mostly comprised of middle school students) or the
symphonic band (mostly late high school). They also
have the option of auditioning for a jazz band.
Throughout the week, students have rehearsals
with their band, but also receive more specialized
time through ensemble, sectional, and private-lesson
instruction. During the afternoon, there is recreation
where the kids take hikes, wade in the creek, or play
sports for cabin points.
In the evening, the activities consist
of relays (including neckball, now an official La
Sierra sport), game show night, and skit/air guitar
night. Two very important nights are the staff concert
night and student recital night.
On staff night, the students listen to
their instructors and counselors show off their talents.
A lot of the instructors are well-known throughout
the U.S., so it’s an honor as a student to get
to hear a top-notch group perform a private concert.
When the students take their turn on
recital night, it’s exciting for me to see how
much they’ve learned in just a matter of days.
It’s also nice because few of them have ever
had the opportunity to perform soloistic pieces.
On the last night, we celebrate with
a dance, sometimes adorned in wacky costumes (don’t
ask!), then the next morning the two bands and the
jazz bands put on an outstanding concert for the parents.
Throughout the week, I saw Three Rivers
students laugh, play music, dance, and be involved
like I’ve never seen before. I was ecstatic
to see them act so comfortably.
I also saw them take great strides as
musicians. A lot of them progressed without even realizing
it; they were too busy having a great time.
Another great thing was that they all
made friends with other students from around the Valley.
The most loved and cherished friends in my life I
made at camp starting 11 years ago. They’ve
all spread out now to places like Massachusetts, Nevada,
Oregon, other parts of California, and have even traveled
to other parts of the world. Most make sure to make
it back every summer to be counselors at camp, and
we all still communicate and take part in each others’
lives because of the strong bond we made at camp.
I’m so glad I got to introduce
my students to something that means so much to me,
something I look forward to all year, and the reason
why I want to be a music educator. I’m sure
when school starts next week, they will be full of
zany stories, and the countdown for La Sierra 2011
If you’d like to learn more about
the camp, or see a funny picture of me with a beard,
Athena Saenz is the
part-time band and music teacher at Three Rivers Union
IN OTHER NEWS:
recovered from Lake Kaweah
The body of Mark Burgess was recovered
by a search team Tuesday, Aug. 10, 71 days after the
Tulare contractor was ejected from the boat in which
he was riding after it collided with a Jet Ski. A
coroner’s report of an autopsy conducted Wednesday
morning revealed that the body was in a good state
of preservation due to being on the lake bottom with
a water temperature of 40 degrees.
Since the Memorial Day weekend accident,
the lake level has dropped more than 65 feet. A search
team on loan from the Merced County Sheriff’s
Department, using a robotic camera discovered the
victim on the lake bottom less than 200 feet from
the Greasy Cove accident site.
The next day, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
employee snagged the clothing of the victim with a
rope connected to a robot. After nudging it toward
the surface, the body eventually broke free and floated
the rest of the way up.
Matt Murphy, a park ranger at Lake Kaweah,
said he believed some visitors might have stayed away
this summer because of reports about the accident
and the missing body. According to the coroner, the
toxicology reports are “problematic” at
this time; the cause of death is officially a “fresh
Death on the Shuttle
Visalia man dies during park tour
A Sequoia Shuttle rider, Michael Spencer
Dowling, 46, of Visalia died Tuesday afternoon, Aug.
10, after he lost consciousness while the passenger
shuttle was parked near the General Sherman Tree in
the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park. Persons
at the scene administered CPR to the victim until
park personnel arrived.
Medical personnel tried to revive the
victim for approximately 40 minutes. Dowling was pronounced
dead at 1:10 p.m.
The fatality is the first to occur in
the four years that the Sequoia Shuttle has been operating
within the national park. The cause of death is pending
the findings of an autopsy.
effect on Generals Highway
The ongoing road construction on the
Generals Highway is an inconvenience for all park
visitors but most seem to accept the intermittent
waiting cheerfully. As of this Monday, Aug. 9, park
rangers began to enforce a Federal Highways closure
order that forbids all vehicles over 22 feet in length
from traveling the portion of the Generals Highway
from Hospital Rock to the Giant Forest.
Prior to the new restrictions, the larger RV rigs
were only being advised not to travel through Sequoia
National Park. According to a release that was circulated
earlier this week by Dana Dierkes, parks information
officer, rangers will be turning vehicles around that
are longer than 22 feet.
The standard recreational vehicle (RV)
rentals, which are popular with park visitors, are
22 feet in length. But the majority of rentals and
the owner-operated RVs are much larger and often tow
an additional vehicle.
The restrictions are expected to remain
in effect through December 31 and could be extended
into next year if the current construction project
is not completed. Federal Highways officials closed
the approximate 10-mile portion of the Generals Highway
because the narrow one-lane stretch that accommodates
heavy vehicle traffic through the construction zone
is considered dangerous, especially for the larger
A spokesperson for the parks said if
there was a wreck or fire, emergency vehicles and
hundreds of waiting motorists would find it nearly
impossible to get in or out on the winding mountain
The news of the new restrictions took
local businesses owners like Roger and Margaret Disinger
of Lemon Cove-Sequoia Campground by surprise. The
couple, who has owned the popular campground below
Lake Kaweah for 32 years were wondering if park officials
or the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce had considered
the effect the new vehicle restrictions might have
on the local tourist industry.
Roger Disinger said the new restrictions could have
a devastating effect on local businesses. When RV
owners of the larger rigs hear of the closure they
will simply go elsewhere, Roger said.
In addition to fees for parking at campgrounds,
RV owners buy groceries, gas, and eat at local restaurants.
Nobody has calculated the effect that the on-going
road construction has had on area businesses though
local operators have lots of customers right now as
August is traditionally the busiest month of the year.
This summer, travelers are experiencing
construction in parks and on highways all across America.
According to the Federal Highways Administration website,
there are currently 12,800 projects like the Generals
Highway road construction under obligation of the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. As
of this week, more than 8,000 projects are currently
under construction; more than 3,300 projects have
A complete Generals
Highway road construction schedule appears in the
August 13 print edition.
Sequoia-Kings Canyon implements
In these parts, summer fire restrictions
come with the territory. It’s not if, but rather
when, because no matter how much precipitation the
previous season brings, the local foothills turn brown
and tinder dry.
To lessen the risk of a human-caused
fire, and owing to extreme fire danger, the following
fire restrictions are in effect for all areas of Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks:
No wood or barbecue fires are permitted
below 6,000 feet except in designated campgrounds.
This includes Ash Mountain Picnic Area, Hospital Rock
Picnic Area, and wilderness travel below 6,000 feet.
Gas or propane stoves may used at all elevations.
No smoking is permitted below 6,000 feet
except within a developed area, a campground, an enclosed
vehicle, or a building that might allow smoking.
These current restrictions will remain
in effect until further notice.
are especially concerned about smoking in the construction
zone with the one narrow lane of roadway and hundreds
of vehicles waiting to pass,” said Deb Schweizer,
the parks fire education specialist. “The difficulty
in evacuating everyone from that area in the event
of a fire is posing a serious threat to public safety.”
In addition, smokers should know to never
toss a burning cigarette from a car window. Use the
vehicle’s ashtray and dispose of cigarettes
In other fire-related news, the Sheep
Fire near Cedar Grove has grown to nearly 400 acres.
Smoke is present in Cedar Grove but is being dispersed
by late afternoon in the current weather pattern.
Presently, the fire does not pose a threat to visitors
or any property. The Don Cecil Trail remains
closed for public safety.
The other three fires caused by lightning
last month are currently showing little or no fire
activity. No smoke is in the immediate forecast for
residents of Three Rivers or visitors to the Kaweah
The Bull Fire north of Kernville is now
100-percent contained and all roads and campgrounds
There is still no date set for ignitions
to begin on the Redwood Meadow Prescribed Fire in
Kings Canyon National Park and at the headwaters of
the North Fork of the Kaweah River. That 634-acre
fire will be lit when air quality and manpower allow.
Sight for sore eyes
Optometrists set up shop in Woodlake
By Brian Rothhammer
Eyesight is surely one of the greatest
gifts bestowed upon us. Trevor Steidley knew to appreciate
this as he grew up in Lindsay in southern Tulare County.
Blindness ran in his family.
was a local doctor who initiated my curiosity in the
eye,” related Dr. Steidley. His grandparents
lived in Lemon Cove, and Dr. Kuykendahl sparked young
became fascinated with vision and chose the field
of optometry as it became my passion to help others,”
After high school, the future doctor
attended the University of LaVerne in Southern California
prior to graduating from the Illinois College of Optometry
in 1994. Following an internship at a Veterans Hospital
in West Virginia, he went on to practice in New Braunfels,
Texas, as well as Seattle, Wash., and Reno, Nev.
During this odyssey, he met Colleen Ito
of Wahiawa, Hawaii. Dr. Ito had graduated from the
University of Hawaii in 1985, majoring in biology.
She then went stateside to Pacific University in Forest
Grove, Ore., for Optometry School. She graduated in
Having set eyes on each other, a partnership
ensued, both personally and professionally. By 2009
the now Mr. and Mrs. opened a new practice of their
own in Woodlake at 160 S. Valencia, Suite B.
so good to be back,” said Dr. Steidley. “I
wanted to return to my home, my neighbors, and my
family. I could see that there was a real need for
services in Woodlake.”
Both Drs. Steidley and Ito expressed
that they are looking forward to seeing folks from
Three Rivers, Lemon Cove, Woodlake, and neighboring
Along with the new Woodlake office, the
husband-and-wife team also acquired an established
practice in Porterville at 100 North D Street upon
the retirement of that office’s optometrist.
Isn’t it way past time to have
your eyes checked? The Woodlake office is open Tuesdays,
Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You
can reach them by phone at 564-2020.
Lane, former Sunset magazine publisher, died Saturday,
July 31, at Stanford Hospital. He was 90.
Mr. Lane served as co-publisher of Sunset
with his brother, Mel, from the late 1950s until 1990
and oversaw Sunset Books. Both ventures reflected
Mr. Lane’s view of what it meant to live in
the West in the modern era, said Jon Christensen,
director of the Bill Lane Center for the American
West at Stanford.
Mr. Lane was born November 7, 1919, in
Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Palo Alto as a boy
after his father, Laurence Lane, purchased a literary
magazine from Southern Pacific Railroad known as Sunset.
Mr. Lane has said that a trip to Yosemite
National Park at the age of nine forever altered his
world view. As a result, in the 1940s, he spent summers
working his first jobs in Sequoia and Yosemite national
In Yosemite, one of his duties was to
call out “Let the fire fall!” to initiate
the push of embers over the edge of Glacier Point
at night to create a visual spectacle for the viewers
3,000 feet below in Yosemite Valley.
Mr. Lane graduated from Stanford University
in 1942, then served in the Pacific theater during
World War II.
He returned to California to help expand
his family’s publishing empire. He was one of
the first publishers to decline tobacco advertising
as a matter of principle and later banned Ortho gardening
products that contained pesticides.
The Lane brothers sold their company
in 1990 to Time Warner for a reported $250 million.
He remained active in the magazine’s direction,
in community affairs, and donated millions to conservationist
endeavors and his college alma mater.
In 1995, the National Parks and Conservation
Association named him conservationist of the year.
He is survived by his wife and three