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In the News - Friday, August 16, 2013





Missing Mineral King hiker

died due to heart attack


  The Tulare County Coroner ruled earlier this week that Johnnie Jean Daniel, 65, of San Rafael suffered a severe heart attack, which caused her to fall while hiking along the west-facing slope of Sawtooth Peak (elevation 12,343 feet). The fallen hiker was spotted by a search-and-rescue helicopter on Friday, Aug. 9. The following day, rangers using the park helicopter recovered the victim in steep, rocky terrain at about 11,000 feet in elevation on the mountainside above Monarch Lakes.

  A source in the family said Daniel had set out from campsite number 4 in Cold Spring Campground on Sunday, Aug. 11, but did not tell anyone her intended itinerary. Daniel was an experienced backcountry trekker who had often hiked and camped solo in the past.

  Daniel, an attendance clerk who worked for the Marin County School District since 1999, became well acquainted with the Mineral King cabin community through her former husband. Although the couple had been divorced for more than a decade, she still visited regularly to hike and backpack in the area.

  Detective Jim Fansett, former Three Rivers deputy sheriff who is now an investigator with the Tulare County Coroner’s office, said it appeared from the condition of the body that the victim had been dead for three or four days.

  “The fact that she was in rugged mountain terrain above 11,000 feet in elevation definitely was a factor in triggering a cardiac event,” Fansett said.

  The National Park Service became  aware that campsite 4 was overdue by noon on Monday, Aug. 12, due to nonpayment of campground fees and no activity at the site. By Wednesday, family members in the Bay Area became concerned when Johnnie did not return home as scheduled and contacted park personnel.

  That night, the car in the campsite was confirmed as Johnnie’s. Her current husband of one year and young-adult son were in Mineral King by 7 a.m. Thursday.

Johnnie’s family members and several people from the Mineral King cabin community began searching the area as did NPS personnel. A park helicopter was called in and, by Friday, a full-scale search was underway.

  At its peak, the search consisted of the helicopter, three search dogs, and 11 ground crews. They were working against the clock as nighttime lows were dipping into the 30s. On Friday afternoon, the park helicopter spotted remains that were later confirmed to be the overdue hiker.  

  On August 9, another hiker, a 54-year old man from San Diego, collapsed and died near New Army Pass in southern Sequoia National Park near the Inyo National Forest boundary.

In that incident, the high altitude is also believed to have triggered a cardiac event. His body was recovered by rangers and airlifted out by the park helicopter at 7:25 p.m. that day.

  On Saturday, a female backpacker returning to the Mineral King area via the Sawtooth-Monarch-Timber Gap trail suffered a broken toe. It was reported that she, too, was airlifted to safety by the park helicopter.


Park Ridge Lookout

added to historical register


  Earlier this month, a few dozen people gathered at the 97-year-old Park Ridge Lookout in Kings Canyon National Park to celebrate a momentous occasion. The lookout is now officially listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.

  The listing is made that much more significant by the fact that so many of the hundreds of fire lookouts that once existed on federal lands have either been removed or are in ruins. The Park Ridge Lookout has been maintained and staffed since 2004 by volunteers of the Buck Rock Foundation.

  A fire lookout was established at the site in 1916. It was built originally as an open air platform with lean-to shelter.

  In 1934, the classic two-story wooden lookout was constructed. It was replaced in 1964 by a 20-foot high, 14-by-14-foot steel tower that remains extant today.

  At the ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 3, Chris Fabbro, director of the Sierra Nevada Chapter for the Forest Fire Lookout Association, presented a plaque and a certificate authenticating the listing to John Ziegler, district fire management officer at Kings Canyon National Park, and Larry Smith, Engine 51 captain at Kings Canyon National Park.

  Kathy Allison, president of the Buck Rock Foundation, gave a presentation on the history of fire lookouts. The Buck Rock Foundation took the lead in completing the nomination paperwork to have the landmark lookout listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.

  Several persons at the ceremony gave first-hand accounts of what it is like to live at Park Ridge for extended periods of time during a fire season. The Park Ridge Lookout remains a valuable fire detection, educational, and historic resource for the National Park Service.

  Several other area lookouts are also listed on the NHLR, including Buck Rock in Giant Sequoia National Monument.


Woodlake High School begins its 100th year


New school year, new staff, new challenges

as WHS looks toward its second century


  For a high school that opened September 23, 1914, with 30 students, every year has been marked by its own challenges and accomplishments. The 2013-2014 school year will be no different, even though budget constraints now dictate the parameters of curriculum,  staff changes, new facilities — like the stadium improvements that can be made available if and when — and, in general, how the modern high school sets its priorities.

  Thursday, Aug. 15, officially marked the first day of classes for the 737 students currently enrolled at Woodlake Union High School. Lisa Castillo, now in her third year as principal, is proud of what she has been able to accomplish as an administrator and says in 2013-2014 she will merely keep the momentum of finding every way within her means to support the personal academic growth of each and every student.

  Looking back over the last couple of years, Castillo admits there was a huge learning curve but now she is comfortable with her position and the course that is being charted for the venerable institution as it enters its second century of service to the Woodlake community.

  “In my first year, it was about getting to know the Woodlake culture – the community, school staff, our strengths, and where we needed improvement,” said Castillo. “Then last year, it was making certain that we were accredited.”

  That all-important sanctioning from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges is the bottom line of what every high school has to be: an institution that has the ability to grant a diploma that really means something for students entering college or the world of work.

  “The association takes a close look at four key areas — how we are organized, curriculum, instruction, and the accountability and assessment of student learning,” Castillo said. “At the end of the process, we were accredited for another six years.”

  With that task accomplshed, now Castillo says she can focus on developing her staff that this year has several new hires. Recently retired are David “Doc” Harrow (physical sciences), Craig Baker (biology), and Frances Mann (Associated Student Body secretary).

  Richard Hernandez (social studies and ex-football coach) and Tammy Dye (physical education) departed for the Visalia and Tulare school districts, respectively. Tori Johnson (student activities director) took a full- time position with a charter school in Porterville though she will continue as Woodlake’s head volleyball coach.

  Steve Parker, who was an Ag teacher last year departed WHS to kick start a similar department at Bakersfield Christian.

  That’s more than a century of educational experience to replace — no easy task for any administration.

  “This year’s staff will feature nine new teachers who are thirsty to put into practice what they have learned,” Castillo said. “We have a good mix of veterans and new teachers, all whom are passionate about the same thing — student learning.”


WHS’s new staff

  Here are brief profiles of seven of Woodlake’s new teachers, three of whom are beginning their careers with WHS as their first teaching position. The newest office staff member (ASB secretary) is also profiled.

  Two additional new teachers and Jose del Rio, Woodlake’s new head football coach, will be profiled in an upcoming edition.


Kaitlin Morgan

Social Studies

  Morgan is a graduate of Fresno State. While at FSU, she was a Smittcamp Family Honors scholar so it is no mystery the potential of this first-year teacher.

  Among her hobbies she claims to be a history buff who loves to prowl bookstores and takes lots of photos of family and friends. She completed her student teaching at Jefferson Middle School in Madera and Clovis East High School.

  Morgan was raised in Tehachapi and is a graduate of Tehachapi High School. She recently relocated to Visalia.


Amy Yingst


  Yingst, who is also a first-year teacher, was born and raised on a farm outside of Visalia and is a graduate of Mt. Whitney High School. She attended Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock where she received her English degree with a specialty in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

  She completed her credential program at CSU Stanislaus and did her student teaching at Central Valley High School in Ceres. She is an avid reader and loves to cook.


Richard McCue


  If the McCue name sounds familiar, it should, because Richard’s father is the longtime band director at Orosi High School, Richard’s alma mater. This McCue is accomplished in his own right, having taught band seven years at El Monte Middle School in the Cutler-Orosi district.

  Richard is also the current president of the Tulare-Kings Music Educators Association.  He is married and the father of two young children.

  His hobbies include coaching, playing, and watching softball and performing with a mariachi group. He lives in Visalia where he enjoys quality time listening to music and playing with his kids.


Regina Rocha

Social Studies

  Rocha recently taught at Dinuba High School, which also happens to be her alma mater. Her specialty includes American Government and teaching students about Mexican American heritage.

  While at Dinuba, she co-directed Dinuba’s Cinco de Mayo Pageant and is an accomplished vocalist. Her educational background is homegrown – Reedley College for an A.A. degree then on to Fresno Pacific where she majored in History.

  Rocha currently lives in Dinuba but will be relocating to the Ivanhoe area to shorten her daily commute to Woodlake.


Jackie Davidson

Physical Education

  Davidson (pictured with her nephew) is another product of  Visalia who graduated from Golden West High School in 2002 and went on to further her education at Fresno State.

  She has teaching experience from Kastner Intermediate School in Clovis and at Fresno High School. While teaching at Fresno, she also coached soccer for six years; her last year was as varsity head coach.

  It’s no surprise that her hobbies are all sports-related. She plays soccer and is an avid fan of Manchester United (soccer), the Broncos (football), and the Angels (baseball). She currently lives in Fresno but is in the process of moving back to Visalia.


Jalisca Thomason

Agricultural Science

  Thomason hails from Arcata where she graduated from Arcata High School. She said their mascot is also the Tiger so she feels right at home with Tiger Pride.    

  She has four years teaching experience at Selma High School.  Her hobbies include horseback riding, floral design, and weaving. While at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo she became good friends with Ernesto Marcial who, not coincidentally, was hired for the other Ag teacher vacancy.


Ernesto Marcial

Agricultural Mechanics

  Marcial is one of three of Woodlake’s first-year teachers, and he brings some hands-on experience to the position. For the last three years he has been an olive rancher in Shasta.

  His student teaching was completed at Wasco; he is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and has a degree in agricultural science.

  “I see what teachers like about Woodlake,” said Marcial. “There is a small-town vibe and lots of support from the administration. Here is pure potential and the opportunity to make education relevant for every student.”


Mari Villegas

ASB secretary

  Villegas is a Woodlake High grad (2004) who replaces Frances Mann, who retired. Because of all that Frances did and the information she accumulated working in the WHS office for the past three decades, Mari’s new job will have a sizable learning curve.

  For that reason, Frances will be working to assist Mari in her transition. Mari has worked the past four years for the district at the Family Resource Center coordinating the Migrant Education program.

  That job was consolidated so Mari jumped at the opportunity to join the WHS staff. She is the mother of three so when she is not at work she has plenty of her kids’ sports and school activities to occupy her time.


Gangs 101: An entry level course on identification and activities


  Listed below is a generalized version on how gangs or gang members and possibly their associates can be identified. The information provided below is not all inclusive to law enforcement or Tulare County because there are additional measures that must be taken by officers in validating and proving gang membership in a court of law.


How gangs

are identified

  Most gang members are proud of their gang and often admit their membership.  Many display tattoos openly and dress in a style identifying their particular gang.

   Their personal belongings are frequently covered with graffiti and bear the gang’s logo and the member’s gang name, which is also referred to as his “moniker.” Personal belongings could include music CDs, school backpacks, cell phone covers, school binders, miscellaneous documents, ball caps, and shoes.

  Note: The general dress trend for most gang members in Tulare County and many other areas of California has changed as a means to deter law enforcement detection.

  In Tulare County, some juveniles and adults on the fringe of gang involvement are reluctant to identify themselves as gang members to law enforcement. They often state that their friends are gang members but they are not.

  However, rival gang members, shooting from a speeding car, do not make a distinction between a gang member and associates.  They have no regard for the safety of others when on a so-called “mission.”

* * *

  Gangs have common characteristics such as the wearing of distinct clothing (when trying to make a statement without vocalizing it) or by using particular hand signs or signals. Although details will vary, the following overview provides basic information about the identification of gang members.



  Gang members use graffiti to identify themselves and mark their gang’s “turf” or territory. They also use it to advertise the gang’s status or power and to declare their allegiance to the gang.

  The graffiti may include the gang’s name, a member’s nickname, a declaration of loyalty, threats against rival gangs, or a description of criminal acts in which the gang has been involved.

  Gangs frequently gather in dark areas to avoid being seen. In these locations they will often drink alcohol, use narcotics, and deface property with graffiti.



  The uniform of Hispanic gangs is standard and easily recognizable. Most gang members adopt a basic style that includes white T-shirts, thin belts, baggy pants with split cuffs, and a black or blue knit cap (beanie) or a bandana tied around the forehead similar to a sweat band.

  While clothing alone cannot positively determine membership in a street gang, color and style serve to identify each gang.  Non-Hispanic gangs such as Caucasian gang members will tend to wear white tank tops and denim jeans or khaki pants with combat-type boots or tennis shoes similar to Converse made with canvas material. If bandanas are displayed, they tend to be black in color, but other colors have also been utilized by Caucasian gang members while committing crimes.

  Gang clothing styles can be easily detected because of the specific way gang members wear their clothing. Examples are preferences for wearing baggy or “sagging” pants or having baseball caps turned at an angle.

  Gang members often prefer particular brands of shoes, pants, or shirts. For example, some gangs like to wear plaid shirts in either blue, brown, black, or red.  These shirts are worn loosely and untucked. 

  Gang graffiti, symbols, messages, or gang names can be written or embroidered on jackets, pants, and baseball caps. Other identifying items include belt buckles with the gang’s initials, key chains, starter jackets (team jackets), and red or blue bandanas commonly called “rags.”

  Excessive amounts of dark clothing or an abundance of one-color outfits and white T-shirts and Levis with upturned cuffs are also indicators of possible gang involvement.



  Expensive or cheap, normal or gaudy. Sometimes we’ve come across jewelry signifying northerner or southerner with specific symbols.  



  Weapons may include, but are not limited to, baseball bats, shaven-down baseball bats, sections of metal pipe, knives, shotguns, semi-automatic and, at times, fully automatic firearms.


Other signs

  Crude and elaborate tattoos, gang-colored shoelaces in their shoes, and specific hairstyles (such as shaving their heads bald, script-writing shaved into their hair, color added to hair).


More information

  Informational website links include:

Northerner - Red - 14



Southerner - Blue - 13



Hell’s Angels -

Red and White - 81



White Pride

Generally not specific in

colors, having used black, green, red, and blue bandanas



  As a reminder, the information and links provided are limited, and additional information exists specific to Tulare County.

  This information compiled by Mark Gist, a lieutenant commander with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department’s Gang Violence Suppression Unit.


Candidates file for November 5 election


  There will be no local races on the November 5, 2013, ballot. For the fall’s Consolidated Districts Election, there were two seats open for the Three Rivers Community Services District and four available on the Memorial District board.

  The CSD had two seats up for election, currently held by Vince Andrus and Rex Black. Andrus filed as a candidate; Black did not. However, Mignon Gregg of Three Rivers declared her candidacy for a board seat, so it is probable that she will be appointed to the position.

  The three incumbents on the Memorial District board filed their candidacy papers, but no challengers came forward. This means that Robert Hohne, Maureen Basham, and Jane Dempsey will most likely continue status quo. Another seat — a two-year “short” term for a “non-veteran” — which was already vacant, will remain so as no one filed to run.

  The deadline to file candidacy papers was Friday, Aug. 9, but then extended to Wednesday, Aug. 14, for all offices in which an incumbent did not file, thus allowing for one more opportunity for any candidate other than the incumbent to file for office.

  Important dates for the upcoming election include: October 7, first day to vote by mail; October 21, last day to register to vote; and October 29, final day that an application may be received for a vote-by-mail (previously known as “absentee”) ballot.

  For a list of all consolidated districts and candidates on the November 5 ballot and other voting information, go to www.tularecounty.ca.gov/registrarofvoters.


Menu-planning for school: August lunch lineup


  Here’s a news flash. Summer vacation is over, parents!

  It’s the time of year when some parents rejoice while others will be filled with sorrow when sending their children out the door on the first day.

  But no matter what the mood, the children have to be fed. Here is the lineup for August of what Three Rivers School cafeteria manager Kris Hanggi is cooking up:

  Thursday, Aug. 22: Corn dogs, green salad, baked beans (vegetarian), grapes, and milk or chocolate milk.

  Friday, Aug. 23: Turkey and cheese sub sandwich, carrot sticks, apple, chocolate chip cookie, and milk or chocolate milk.

  Monday, Aug. 26: Garlic butter noodles, whole wheat roll, steamed broccoli, orange, and milk or chocolate milk.

  Tuesday, Aug. 27: Breaded chicken sandwich, green salad, apple, chocolate Teddy Grahams, and milk or chocolate milk.

  Wednesday, Aug. 28: Beef taco, pinto beans, green salad, peaches, and milk or chocolate milk.

  Thursday, Aug. 29: Pancakes, hash-brown potatoes, sausage, carrot sticks, grapes, and milk or chocolate milk.

  Friday, Aug. 30: Cheese pizza, green salad, orange, chocolate chip cookie, and milk or chocolate milk.

A student lunch costs $3 per day. To purchase milk only, it’s 30 cents.


Sharing the proceeds (photo caption)


On Monday, Aug. 12, a check in the amount of $1,543.01 was presented by members of the Three Rivers Historical Society to the Three Rivers Volunteer Firefighters for their half of the proceeds from July’s Hot Dog Festival. This was the fifth year that the annual fundraiser was held, and the proceeds have more than doubled since the inaugural event. Participating in the ceremonial presentation were Ron Parish, captain, Tulare County Fire Department; Robb Hubbard, TCFD lieutenant; Jason Hawes, Three Rivers volunteer firefighter; Mike Payne, Three Rivers volunteer firefighter; Dody Marshall, Three Rivers Historical Society treasurer; Tyson Lewis, TCFD lieutenant; Pat Crain, TRHS secretary; John Hanggi, TCFD engineer/Three Rivers volunteer firefighter; Mike Condon, Three Rivers volunteer firefighter; and Chief Joe Garcia, TCFD.


Mary (Griffes) Barton: Three Rivers pioneer


By Sarah Elliott


  Last weekend, I was fortunate to be a part of a special event. It was so exceptional, in fact, that it can’t even be described as once-in-a-lifetime. That’s because even though this was a birthday party, the guest of honor wasn’t there.

  During the evening, which was held in commemoration of what would have been my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Allen (Griffes) Barton’s 149th birthday, I reflected on the fact that dozens of descendants and their families had gathered to celebrate the life of a person who had died more than a half century ago.

  Besides national holidays set aside for a president or other history-making individuals, such an occasion doesn’t happen with regularity. It was my first such party, and it got me thinking.

  I found myself hoping that somehow, some way, Mary Barton knew that she is not forgotten. Wouldn’t death be more acceptable if we could know that we had left an enduring legacy that two, three, and four generations later was still continuing?

  Mary Elizabeth Allen was born to William T. Allen (1818-1902) and Albina Jane Foster Allen (1823-1888) on August 14, 1864, in Farmington, Calif. The Allens are descendants of Ethan Allen, who made a name for himself as an American Revolutionary War patriot and founder of the state of Vermont.

  Almost two decades before Mary was born, William and Albina Allen made the 2,000-mile journey west with William’s parents, Isaac and Margaret; his siblings and their families; and family friend Elam Brown and his relatives. They departed from Clay County, Mo., on April 20, 1846, bound for Oregon, lured by the promise of a section of land.

  In all, there were about 30 families that included as many ox-drawn wagons, some of the 100 men on horseback, and dozens of women and children. William’s father, Isaac Allen, and Elam Brown were the leaders of the wagon train; that is, until August 27, when Isaac Allen died of mountain fever in the Wyoming Territory.

  When the company reached Fort Hall, a fur-trading post on the Snake River in the Idaho Territory, they heard stories about the climate and opportunities in California. Here, the wagon train split into two, with Elam Brown and the Allens heading to California with a guide they had hired.

  Another wagon train was heading west on this route at the same time as the Brown party. Previously, they had stayed in close touch with the group known as the Donner party as a security measure while traveling through “Indian country.”

  The Brown party reached Truckee Lake in the Sierra late in September; the Donner party arrived about October 20. The Brown party was tempted to lay over here and allow their oxen and horses to rest and forage at this beautiful, high mountain spot. They have their guide to thank for urging them onward, thus escaping the horrific fate of the Donner party.

  As a result, Truckee Lake is today known as Donner Lake and not Elam Brown Lake or Allen Lake. And I am here to write about Mary Allen, a Three Rivers pioneer who may otherwise not have been born.

  The Browns and Allens reached Sutter’s Fort safely on October 10, 1846. The family spent their first California winter in Napa County, then moved to Martinez, followed by Lafayette before heading to Farmington, which is just south of Stockton and today a small community of just 200 residents. This is where my great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Allen, was born on August 14, 1864.

  As an interesting aside, Margaret Allen, wife of Isaac Allen who had perished on the journey west, ney west, married Elam Brown, their close family friend, a few years after arriving in California. The couple lived out their years in Lafayette, in Contra Costa County, where Elam Brown was a cattle rancher.

  In May 1875, when Mary was 10 years old, her parents and three of her older brothers moved to the Mussel Slough area near Hanford in what was then Tulare County. This landed the pioneer family on the front lines of the “Mussel Slough Tragedy,” a violent dispute in the spring of 1880 between settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad over land rights that ended with seven people dead. (There is a historical marker at the site on 14th Avenue just north of Elder Avenue in Kings County.) 

  The Allen family was destined to make history. And Mary would soon claim her place in the pioneer annals right here in Three Rivers.

  To be continued…


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
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