News and Information
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of KAWEAH COUNTRY —
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam
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In the News - Friday, AUGUST 25, 2006

 

Historic Generals Highway

undergoing prep work

Construction begins next week

   The longer traffic delays in the construction zone that were announced to begin August 21 failed to materialize this week, and the throng of Sequoia National Park tourists encountered only brief, intermittent delays during daytime hours prior to 4 p.m. Those delays, according to Force Traffic Control, averaged only five to 10 minutes, and most motorists were not even stopped.

  “What we’re hearing now is that the signals that will allow traffic to pass on the hour from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays won’t be operational until Wednesday [Aug. 30],” said Rosemary Stimpel, who heads up the flagging crew. “So the delays will remain at a minimum for now. Up to a 20-minute delay is possible but unlikely during the next few work days.”
   There is no work scheduled for weekends or holidays. If the hourly delays do begin next Wednesday, the plan is to shut down for the Labor Day weekend at noon on Friday, Sept. 1.
   This past week, workers were wrapping trees with plastic fencing and installing culverts in the one-and-a-half-mile construction zone on the Generals Highway from Big Fern Springs to 300 feet below the parking area at Amphitheater Point. This section of highway consists of several steep and winding curves.
   Some insiders in the project believe there may be even more scheduling changes as project engineers await final approval from the Federal Highways Administration relative to a dry stack wall that partially sloughed away this past spring. That historic structure will be removed piece by piece and then reassembled to preserve its original appearance.

  “It's really hard to say what has kept the rock buttress from just coming down after all these years since the schist was stacked there in the 1920s,” said one estimator working on the Generals Highway project. “I guess what’s left there is testimony to how well it was built the first time around.”
   This time plans call for numbering each rock prior to its removal then building a substructure that will essentially be holding the slope in place. The rocks will then be placed back on the slope to preserve the original appearance of the historic highway that was completed in 1926.
   For the most up to date road construction information, visitors may call the park’s automated 24-hour phone message (565-3341, ext. 941) or inquire during business hours at the Three Rivers Visitor Center in the local museum. Driving time from the Three Rivers Historical Museum to the Ash Mountain entrance station is 10 minutes; from the park’s entrance it takes another 20 minutes to reach the road construction zone.

Backpacker’s body found

   She had been missing since Thursday, July 31, when she was last seen by her husband at the edge of the San Joaquin River. After a lengthy search, not a clue was found regarding the fate of Linda Salness, 56, of Hershey, Penn., but she was presumed drowned.
   That presumption became reality three weeks later when, on Thursday, Aug. 17, National Park Service rangers recovered Salness’s body from a section of the river in the northernmost portion of Kings Canyon National Park.
   The victim was spotted by a Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks helicopter pilot during a spotting trip. She was about a half mile downriver from where she was last seen, but the body had only recently become visible due to the receding water levels common at the end of summer.
   Salness was on a backpacking trip with her husband and another couple. They had embarked on the John Muir Trail at Florence Lake and were camped at Aspen Meadow when she went missing.
   This is the second fatality in Sequoia-Kings Canyon this year. On Wednesday, May 31, another woman, Patty Rambert, 57, of Laguna Hills, fell to her death on Mount Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park.
   During 2005, 11 people perished in the parks, all of whom were male. Two were fall victims, two were struck by lightning, and one succumbed to hypothermia.
   The leading cause of death in Sequoia-Kings Canyon is drowning. Six men lost their lives in park waterways last season.

Sierra fire activity simmers

   Last weekend and for several days on either side of it, smoke filled the Middle Fork canyon each morning. This was a result of the Tamarack Fire, a lightning-caused fire burning south of the Mineral King area in the Golden Trout Wilderness and being managed as a “wildland fire use” project by the Sequoia National Forest (not Sequoia National Park).
   Currently burning in Kings Canyon National Park is the lightning-caused Roaring Fire, which as of Wednesday, Aug. 23, had burned 468 acres. The fire, discovered July 23, is located south of Cedar Grove.
   Park fire monitors have currently taken up posts to watch the fire closely as it creeps toward Cedar Grove. The fire is burning about 40 acres a day.
   Campers who are sensitive to smoke are advised to stay somewhere besides Cedar Grove. Although the Park Service is working with the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District to minimize its impacts, smoke is currently settling in the Cedar Grove area during the morning hours.
   Two other fires are also burning in Kings Canyon park. The Ridge Fire is less than one acre and smoldering just southwest of the Roaring Fire. The Burnt Fire has been burning since July and is at nine acres.
   In Sequoia National Park, firefighters suppressed a fire located on the northeast slope of Paradise Peak in the Kaweah’s Middle Fork canyon.

Access county services online


   After navigating the revamped Resource Management Agency (RMA) planning website, Deborah Kruse, an assistant director with Development Services, told the members of the Tulare County Planning Commission that county planners are really making some important improvements. Kruse’s update was part of Wednesday’s Planning Commission agenda.

  “One way we can measure the progress we are making is that for the past few years we are receiving less complaints,” Kruse said.
   At present, county staff at the permit center of the Development Services branch might have an average of 70 customers per day and some days more than 100, Kruse said. It’s now possible to do a lot of the preliminary services online, she said, because of all the recent updates to the county website.
   Forms can be downloaded and questions may be emailed that save legwork and makes it unnecessary for most visits that the applicant has been required to do in the past.

  “It’s now possible to log onto the site and research the history of land use for any given parcel,” Kruse said. “Maps and aerials are also available. All the applicant needs to get started is the APN [assessor’s parcel number].”
   Kruse cautioned that even though applying for a permit is more streamlined, the project review division consists of four separate entities — the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, the Zoning Administrator, and the Site Plan Review Committee. Each of these bodies is required to conduct public hearings on certain projects, and a single development could be considered at more than a dozen meetings.
   George Finney, assistant director of Long Range Planning, reported that the county supervisors had recently completed study sessions on five components of the Tulare County General Plan. Their review of the draft plan must be completed before the plan can go to the Planning Commission for the first round of public hearings.
   County planners also said the RMA website is useful for tracking the progress of the General Plan. A newsletter is also available with General Plan information at:
                                                             www.westplanning.com
   The RMA and the county permit center are located at 5961 S. Mooney Blvd., just southeast of Mooney Grove Park. To log onto the county’s website, go to:

                                                 www.co.tulare.ca.us

OBITUARIES

Stan Albright,

former Sequoia-Kings Canyon,

Yosemite superintendent

1932~2006
   Stanley T. Albright died Friday, Aug. 18, 2006, in West Linn, Ore. He was 74.
   Stan was born in Oakland and was raised in Bishop on the east side of the Sierra. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He graduated from UCLA in 1958 with a degree in biology.
   His first job out of college was as a fire lookout located on Bald Mountain in the Inyo National Forest. He also worked on the ski patrol in Yosemite National Park.
   He was a park ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and, in later years, was appointed superintendent there. He was the business and concessions manager at Grand Canyon National Park and superintendent of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.
   By the 1970s, he was the state director of Alaska, overseeing the planning process for new national parks in that state.
   On Oct. 31, 1975, Stan began his duties as superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This was during the height of the Mineral King controversy, when the Disney Corporation was proposing to build a ski resort in the valley. Stan remained at Sequoia-Kings Canyon until September 1977; the Mineral King area was added to Sequoia National Park in 1978.
   Stan moved on to Washington, D.C., where he was the associate director for management and operations. He returned to the West Coast as the regional director of the Pacific West Region, based in San Francisco.
   In 1997, Stan accepted the position of superintendent of Yosemite National Park in order to guide the park in its rehabilitation challenges following a devastating winter flood.
   In 2000, he retired from Yosemite and the National Park Service. His Yosemite successor was Mike Tollefson, who is also a former Sequoia-Kings Canyon superintendent.
   Stan is the nephew of Horace Albright who, with Stephen Mather, founded the National Park Service in 1916. He followed his uncle into the Park Service, devoting 42 years — through 10 presidents, a dozen Interior secretaries, and 10 NPS directors — to park operations, management, and its politics.
   Stan suffered a stroke in February 2005 while on vacation in Hawaii.
   He is survived by his wife, Kris, and their two sons, Sean of Walnut Creek and Jon of Lake Oswego, Ore.
   Donations may be made to the Stanley T. Albright Scholarship — which will make it possible for underprivileged youth to visit national parks — at the Yosemite Institute (P.O. Box 487, Yosemite, CA 95389; phone: 209-379-9511; www.yni.org).
   No services are planned.

Margaret Wood,

Three Rivers Senior League founder

1924 ~ 2006
   Margaret A. Wood, a former resident of Three Rivers for nearly 40 years, died Sunday, Aug. 20, 2006, in San Pedro. She was 82.
   Margaret was born June 27, 1924, in Caldwell, Kan. She and her husband, John, and their children moved to Three Rivers in 1965.
   John and Margaret owned and operated the Kaweah Korral restaurant, today a private residence near the east end of Lake Kaweah.
   In the 1980s, the couple was instrumental in the creation of the Three Rivers Senior League.
   In May 2002, after living in their Three Rivers home for 37 years, the Woods were the first of six families to receive final notice from the federal government that they needed to vacate their home to make way for a larger Lake Kaweah, a result of the raising of the Terminus Dam.

  “At first, we were thinking of moving to the apartments behind the Village Market,” said Margaret in a 2002 interview with The Kaweah Commonwealth. “But I just wouldn’t be able to drive by this place without thinking of all the memories. I don’t think I can even come back to visit.”
   John and Margaret relocated to Southern California.
   Margaret was preceded in death by a son, Ronald.
   Margaret is survived by her husband of 63 years, John; of Harbor City; sons Stephen and wife Christy of Three Rivers and John and wife Linda of Woodlake; daughters M. Cheryl and husband Tony Cerasani and Rani and husband Jim Fish; nine grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
   Margaret was laid to rest at the Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes.

David Quintero,

Iraq war veteran, firefighter

1984 ~ 2006
   Sgt. David “Q” Ernest Smalley Quintero of Three Rivers died Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006, due to injuries suffered in a car accident on Sunday, Aug. 13. He was 22.
   David was a member of the California Army National Guard, 1072nd Transportation Company, based in Fresno, and served a tour of duty in Iraq. He was decorated with a Bronze Star medal in 2005 for his service and had just been promoted to E-6 staff sergeant.
   Since 2005, David was also a seasonal firefighter with Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks’ Crew 91.
   David was preceded in death by his grandmother, Nancy Smalley, and mother Kelli Smalley (1963-2004).
   He is survived by his father, Terry Quintero; sister Amber Quintero of Sparks, Nev.; his grandfather, Ernest, of Canada,; grandparents David Smalley and Peggy Blanchard of Three Rivers; his great-grandmother, Doris Smalley, of Orange; and several uncles, aunts, and cousins.
   Donations may be made in David’s name to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (www.wffoundation.org).

Sequoia Gifts celebrates

one-year anniversary

   For gift shop owner Scott Mulliken, his inaugural year in Three Rivers has really lived up to his expectations and more. There was a surprise or two but he has thrived during his transition from Orange County commuter to Kaweah Country business owner.

  “There’s not a day I get up in the morning that I don’t look forward to coming to work in my Three Rivers shop,” said Scott. “I look forward to just see what’s going on and have enjoyed meeting my customers and making this business work.”
   Scott admitted that while he was employed all those years by FedEx in Orange County there were days when he dreaded going to the corporate workplace. He realized it was time for a change.
   That change came to fruition on August 5, 2005, when he opened Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs in the remodeled building between Chumps and Three Rivers Market.
   From the outset, Scott has made a commitment to becoming involved with his customers and the Three Rivers community. He attributes the fact that he hit the ground running in local business in part to his training at Sequoia National Park.

  “Prior to opening I attended the same weeklong training sessions that the NPS interpreters get before they start the summer season,” Scott said. “It really helped me to be able to provide more accurate information about the park,” Scott said.
   The training, Scott emphasized, is available to any business owner who wants to learn more about how the local parks work and what they have to offer.

  “I can’t tell you all the park visitors who ask what are the best things to see and do in the time they have to spend,” Scott said. “The training has really helped me to give them good advice.”
   One of the surprises has been the yearlong support he has received from so many locals, Scott said. The visitors who shop in the gift store for souvenirs have been the proverbial icing on the cake.

  “I would have predicted just the opposite,” Scott said. “Being an authorized UPS shipping outlet has also helped because it gives everyone another reason to come into the store.”
   In its first year, Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs has been very supportive of local fundraisers and donated lots of merchandise for raffles and auctions. Scott has also presented the Three Rivers School Foundation and the Sequoia Natural History Association, two local nonprofit organizations, with cash proceeds generated during his grand opening ($200 each) and anniversary celebrations ($325 each).
   Scott also serves as a board member with the new Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce to help improve the overall business climate.

  “The community involvement is a way of giving something back and saying thank you to all who have visited the shop,” Scott said. “I look forward to meeting even more of you in this next year.”

Music students perform

for Jazz Club

   At this month’s Sierra Traditional Jazz Club concert, six high school musicians performed on stage with the High Sierra Jazz Band. This was their jazzed-up way of saying thanks to the club that sponsored them at this summer’s Sacramento Trad Jazz Youth Camp, held July 30 to August 5 in the foothills east of the capital city.
   Each year, the Three Rivers jazz club pays the fees for local musically-inclined teens to attend the week-long camp. This year’s musicians are: Kylie Castro (vocals), an Exeter High junior; Tian Newman (alto saxophone), a 2006 graduate of Exeter High; Kayla Conover (clarinet), also an EUHS junior; Niko East (trombone), a Woodlake High junior; Tim Stone (trombone); and Max Carter (trumpet).
   Kylie and Tian attended for the second consecutive year.
   At the STJC concert, held Saturday, Aug. 12, each student played a song of their choice with the band. One of the main focuses of the camp instruction is improvisation, so High Sierra, of course, tested them on their expertise in this field of study.
   Everyone joined in for the finale of, what else?, “When the Saints Go Marching In” with each student performing a scat chorus.
   Financing students for the jazz camp each year is made possible by funds raised during Jazzaffair.

  “We owe a lot to all who support our Jazzaffair,” said Lou Christensen of Three Rivers, the STJC Jazz Camp coordinator. “Without you, we couldn’t afford to do this.”
   And “this” is a commitment by the local club to ensure that a knowledge, love, and appreciation of jazz is passed on from one generation to the next.
   MARK YOUR CALENDARS— Jazzaffair is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, April 13 to 15. Support youth in jazz by attending the 34th annual event, featuring High Sierra and six other bands, or send a donation to the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, P.O. Box 712, Three Rivers.


Plaque dedication will

honor Woodlake veteran

   Tiffany Valdez of Visalia was raised by her grandparents in Woodlake and now wants to give something back. She has rallied friends and family members to raise funds for a plaque in honor of her grandfather and received the necessary permission from the City of Woodlake to place it in the community’s park.
   Robert Haro (1931-2004) is a decorated Korean War veteran. He was raised and educated in Woodlake.
   He enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 19 and fought in the Korean War. He received several distinguished service medals, two Purple Hearts, and other citations for bravery.
   A story published in the Woodlake Echo newspaper in the 1950s told of Haro’s heroism when he saved his fellow soldiers by throwing rocks at the enemy after he ran out of ammunition.
   He succumbed to leukemia in October 2004. He is buried in the Woodlake Cemetery.
   His medals and war memorabilia are housed in the Tulare City Historical Museum.
   The dedication ceremony for Robert Haro is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2, at 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

Back-to-school easier

with parental efforts
By Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent

   The students returned to Three Rivers School on Monday, Aug. 21. It was a great beginning to a new school year!
   All the staff at TRUS looks forward to the return of the kids. That’s why we’re here; that’s why we do what we do: it’s all about the kids.
   The new Eagle Booster Club organized a “Welcome Back Coffee” for parents on the first morning as they dropped off their kids. It was a nice opportunity for parents to reconnect after summer break.
   Many parents gathered on the stage for coffee and pastries. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new tradition at TRUS.
   A school is a complex organization with many levels of activities. As we were preparing for the beginning of the new school year, our list of things to do grew and changed while completed tasks were happily crossed off. There is a never-ending list of chores to keep our school looking nice, and limited resources with which to do that.
   Enter the parents! I have said before that one of the aspects of TRUS that makes me most proud is our wonderful parent involvement.
   Parents never cease to amaze me as they step forward when they see a need and try to help. So, on Friday afternoon, Aug. 18, Ginger Curtis came to me and asked if I could come up with a list of things for people to do to help spruce up the school.
   She said she would call parents and thought we could get 10 or so here on Saturday, Aug. 19, to help out. We agreed that she would ask parents if they could be here from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
   I came up with a list of a variety of both gardening and general cleanup tasks. When I arrived at 8:50 the next morning, there were already parents and kids waiting to be put to work.
   Little by little more help arrived. Before too long, Three Rivers School was a beehive of workers.
   There were people shoveling sand, blowing blacktop, pressure-washing sidewalks and blacktop, clipping bushes, pulling weeds, pruning roses, picking up trash, cleaning the upper field restrooms, cutting and removing downed trees, cleaning and organizing the audio-visual room, and doing whatever task they were assigned. I am not sure I got everyone on my list who came to work but I am sure there were at least 20 parents and kids here working cooperatively throughout the day.
   It was incredible! No task was too big or too tedious. The last parent left about 3:30 p.m. I was truly amazed!
   Thank you, parents, for all you do! Thank you, students, for making our jobs meaningful and fun!
   Thank you staff for your dedication and commitment to our Three Rivers school family! Thank you to the community for your ongoing and positive support!
   It is a privilege and honor to work with such a great group of individuals.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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