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In the News - Friday, AUGUST 24, 2007


Searchers find body

in Kings Canyon NP

   Search teams looking for a backpacker who disappeared in Kings Canyon National Park more than two weeks ago found a body matching his description.
   Henry Nguyen, 39, of Garden Grove, was reported missing Monday, Aug. 6, when he did not return from a solo backcountry trip in the eastern portion of the park. Family members said he often backpacks on his own off-trail but leaves them a detailed itinerary and gets in touch when he finishes hikes.
   Late Thursday, Aug. 16, searchers found a body that matched Nguyen’s description in the Dusy Basin. Nguyen is described as five feet, nine inches tall, 125 pounds, with black hair and glasses.
Rangers believe the experienced backpacker died in a fall from Isosceles Peak, a 12,321-foot peak south of Bishop Pass. The Fresno County Coroner will positively identify the body and determine Nguyen’s cause of death.

Remains of second

WWII airman found

   The remains of what is believed to be the second of four crewmen who died while in 1942 while on a training flight were found by hikers last week on a remote glacier on Mount Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park. The body was found 100 feet from where another body was found on Oct. 16, 2005, by an ice climber.
   The first man was later identified as Leo Mustonen, 22, one of four fliers aboard an Army Air Corps AT-7 plane that took off from Mather Air Force Base on Nov. 18, 1942, and was never heard from again.
   After Mustonen’s body was found, searchers scoured the area, looking for other remains, but were hampered by the snowpack.
   Unconfirmed reports state that the current remains were found by a hiker who was in the area to conduct research for a book he will be writing about the incident. The body was likely exposed because of the lack of snowfall during the previous winter and the lateness of the current season, causing the snowpack at the site to recede.

On the rocks

   On Tuesday, Aug. 21, a driverless delivery truck nearly missed taking out a portion of the Mountain View Realty building up-canyon from Three Rivers Market. The cause of the runaway ice-service truck was believed to be a faulty parking brake.

Back to school:

WHS administrators switch chairs,

seven new teachers on staff

   At the end of the last school year, when Steve Tietjen, Woodlake’s superintendent, informed the elementary and high school boards of his decision to take a new position in Los Banos, the vacancy set off an unprecedented chain reaction. Rather than hire an outside candidate, trustees chose to promote from within: Tim Hire, principal at Woodlake High School for the past two years, was appointed to succeed Tietjen as district superintendent.
   Principal— Nicole Glentzer, Woodlake High alum and former assistant principal under Hire, was promoted to be Woodlake High School’s new principal. At 34, she may be the youngest to ever serve as top administrator at the 91-year old high school.

  “With a baby due next month, I would never have contemplated a career move, but everyone involved was convinced that my upcoming leave will work out just fine,” Glentzer said. “I’m fortunate because my husband is so supportive and has been a primary caregiver with our first child. My doctor thinks I can be back at school in four to eight weeks.”
   Nicole formerly taught Spanish and served as the principal at Cutler Elementary for two years before returning to her alma mater. The main difference this year, she said, is the number of responsibilities where the buck literally starts and stops with the principal.

  “As the assistant principal, I supported what the principal did and was assigned students that were referred to me,” Glentzer said. “Now, in addition to all the calls and emails that are directed to the principal, I need to be aware of school spending and all the staff needs.”
   In the first weeks of her tenure, Nicole has hit the ground running. She will be able to make what she thinks will be a smooth transition because Tim Hire always kept her in the loop, especially when it came to personnel.
   That experience, Glentzer said, served her well throughout the hiring of the seven new teachers at the high school that has a current enrollment of 814 students.

  “We’re very fortunate to hire each one of these new teachers because they all could be elsewhere but chose to be at Woodlake,” Glentzer said. “I think that says a lot about the reputation of our school and the community.”
   Assistant Principal— Tony Casares, the former athletic director, who came to Woodlake last year from Golden West, has been named the new assistant principal. He will fill in for Nicole during her maternity leave.
   Casares, 51, graduated from Mt. Whitney in 1974, and later completed the administrative internship program at Fresno State. He said that over the years, the job description of assistant principal has changed, but not the kids.

  “Today, we use a lot more creativity in dealing with students,” Casares said. “The days when we could just take out and use the ‘board of education’ are long gone.”
   Tony describes himself as a disciplinarian, but not an intimidator. He said he prefers to lead by example and, foremost, be a counselor, understanding “that the things we do as teens are not necessarily who we are or who we are going to grow up to be.”
   Athletic Director— Raul Quintero, who came to Woodlake in 2004 as a physical education teacher and baseball coach, will serve as the new athletic director. He has also coached cross country and boys frosh basketball during his tenure with Tiger athletics.
   It was reported that Frank Ainley, longtime athletic director, who retired in 2006, recently visited Mr. Quintero in his office to offer advice and give a few pointers.
   NEW TO WOODLAKE HIGH but not necessarily to Woodlake are seven newly hired teachers:
   Drivers’ Education— Bill Corliss started a Visalia drivers’ education company 12 years ago to help that school district instruct teen drivers. He formerly coached football at Woodlake for two seasons under Leo Robinson and returned to Woodlake because he likes the daily one-period schedule that leaves the rest of day free for his other passion: playing golf.
   IET (Intensive English Training)— Eddie Dominguez lives in Visalia where he formerly was a substitute teacher and coached varsity girls’ basketball at El Diamante High School. He attended both Fresno State and National University before being hired at Woodlake.
   Social Science and History— David Flores comes to Woodlake after teaching two years at Farmersville High School. He graduated from Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia in 2000 and attended U.C. Davis where he earned a B.A. in History with a minor in English.
   In 2005, he also earned a teaching credential from U.C. Davis. Coach Flores has also been hired as the head junior varsity football coach at Woodlake.
   Performing Arts and Guitar— Barbara Hallmeyer is not new to Woodlake but will be assuming more responsibilities in the arts department. A 1973 Woodlake High alum, she’s been involved with the PTA, 4-H, Presbyterian Church, and has been a valuable liaison with the Woodlake community.
   She has worked at Woodlake High since 1999 in performing and theatre arts. This year, she said, drama students will take an exciting trip to New York City where the entourage will experience Broadway productions and interact with some of the most successful actors in the industry.
   Spanish— Andrew Jensen has formerly substituted for both the Woodlake and Visalia school districts. He attended College of the Sequoias in Visalia and Fresno State before completing one year studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.
   His specialty, he explained, is helping non-native speakers to speak like natives. He was asked to apply for the position at Woodlake High after substitute teaching for another Spanish instructor.
   Mathematics— Antonio Lopez is another Woodlake alum, class of 1999, who aspired to return home and teach at his alma mater. He received his B.A. in Mathematics from Fresno State and formerly worked at the Woodlake Family Resource Center.
   He will begin his career at Woodlake High teaching Algebra I and II.
   Special Education— Kristina Mellow is a Mt. Whitney graduate who attended COS and then earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Fresno State. She also completed received a Master’s degree in Special Education through Point Loma Nazarene University.
   She previously taught for three years in Orosi and a year in North Sacramento. At Woodlake, she’ll begin teaching classes in basic English and U.S. History.
   Physical Education— Tammy Range has followed a similar track to Woodlake as her predecessor Dina DaSilva. She, like DaSilva, is from Tulare, where she graduated from Tulare Union. She attended COS, then received a B.S. in Kinesiology from Fresno State.
   Tammy was a part-time instructor and assistant swim team coach at COS. At Woodlake she will coach the cross country and swim teams.

Food Pantry to

undergo major overhaul

   At a meeting this month with representatives from First Baptist Church and Community Presbyterian Church, it was decided that a complete reorganization of the Community Food Pantry is warranted.
   Several decisions were made at the meeting that will be pursued in the near future, including that the Food Pantry should expand cooperation with other community groups and local merchants, be offsite of church grounds, obtain a federal tax identification number, and become a nonprofit corporation.
   Anyone who is interested in the future of the Community Food Pantry is invited to attend an organizational meeting Monday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m., in Harrison Hall at Community Presbyterian Church to discuss this vital entity and volunteer to assist as part of the organizing committee or a member of the board of directors.
   Information: 561-3385.


Community salutes

retired CHP officer

   When hundreds turn out for a regular Lions Club meeting it must be a special occasion. That’s exactly what the evening’s program organizer, Glenn McIntyre, had in mind when he invited the entire Three Rivers community for a special Lions Club dinner on Thursday, Aug. 16, to salute retired resident CHP Officer Greg Fox.
   Fox retired August 1 after 23 years with the California Highway Patrol, the last seven of which were spent patrolling Three Rivers. His remarks to the huge gathering were filled with lots of memories and humor, an indispensable trait that Officer Fox said helped him cope with the mundane part of the job day in and day out.

  “No, the speed limit is not 65 [mph] around the lake, contrary to what most of you folks might believe,” Fox said. “I’ll continue to do 54 when you see me driving around the lake. That’s my style… to lead by example.”
   If you ask any driver who has had an encounter with Officer Fox they’re going to miss his style that in many cases included a stern warning and maybe a lecture but not always an expensive ticket.

  “I didn’t believe that wreaking havoc on somebody’s insurance rates was always the best policy,” Fox said.
   But Officer Fox did believe in safe driving and getting every motorist to slow down and obey the law. While Fox patrolled the local roads, the statistics demonstrated that the highways were safer.
   With errant teen drivers, part of the Fox strategy was to contact the parents to head off a potential problem or devastating tragedy.

  “For that, and just being you, all of Three Rivers thanks you,” said Glenn McIntyre, who was the evening’s host on behalf of the Lions Club.
   Fox is not retiring altogether but has taken a new job with ISG Electric in Three Rivers. He is also available to consult on highway grant projects like the new flashing lights that are being proposed for the Three Rivers School crosswalk.

  “It hasn’t all been serious these 23 years with the CHP,” Fox told the crowd. “It’s been fun, too, and whether you know it or not, some of the fun has been at your expense.”

Village Foundation

targets highway grant

   The Three Rivers Village Foundation has identified a federal grant program that could lead to some flashing lights at the Three Rivers School crosswalk and a solar-powered speed-feedback sign. More than $100 million in federal funds is expected to be made available nationally to schools and to local governments who encourage youth to walk and bike to school.
   The so-called “Safe Routes” program will be administered locally by Caltrans. A request for proposals is expected to be announced in mid-September.
   A foundation committee headed by Fred Picavet is currently preparing a proposal that would then be submitted by Three Rivers School.
   Sparks said the two additions to the highway would make the road safer for pedestrians, as well as slow down traffic through town and the upper canyon. In 2005, a Woodlake High School student was struck and seriously injured in the TRUS crosswalk.
   Since that accident, community groups have been looking for ways to make the busy highway more pedestrian friendly. The grant would seek about $50,000 for the improvements.

  “It’s a win-win for Three Rivers,” Sparks said. “The highway would be safer and by slowing down visitors on their way to Sequoia Park, they might pay more attention to what we have right here in Three Rivers.”
   The next Town Hall Meeting to discuss this project and other hot topics like the local ambulance service has been rescheduled for Monday, Oct. 1.

OBITUARY

Mary Gessner
1928 ~ 2007

   Mary Gessner of Three Rivers died of cancer on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007. She was 79.
   A memorial service will be held today (Friday, Aug. 24), 11 a.m., at the First Baptist Church in Three Rivers. Stan Coffelt will lead the service.
   Mary was born Jan. 1, 1928, in Taft to Claude and Irene Fulwider. She attended Maricopa schools, graduating from Maricopa High School in 1945.
   In 1949, she graduated from San Jose State College. Following graduation, she taught at schools in San Jose, Redwood City, Sacramento, and Delano.
   In 1951, Mary married Jim Gessner. The couple recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary.
   Mary was active in her church and in “Friendship Bible Coffees,” as well as a supporter of Christians in Action. She had a great interest in spreading the Gospel worldwide.
   Mary is survived by her loving family: husband Jim Gessner; son Christopher Gessner; daughter Marjorie Gessner and husband Robert Drotos; and brother William Fulwider.
   A private burial was held at the Three Rivers Cemetery prior to today’s memorial service.
   In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Mary to Hospice of Tulare County, 900 W. Oak St., Visalia, CA 93291.
   Condolences may be sent online at:

   www.smithfamilychapel.com.

 
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