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In the News - Friday, SEPTEMBER 29, 2006

Three Rivers celebrates

business milestones

   There is no more important indicator of how a business is doing than the attendance at its milestone events. This past Saturday, two newcomers — Three Rivers Mercantile and Sierra Subs & Salads — held a grand opening and one-year anniversary party, respectively, and treated hundreds of locals and visitors to an action-packed day.
   Built from the ground up: THREE RIVERS MERCANTILE-- “There was something going on all day long from the time we opened the doors at 8 in the morning to closing,” said Mike McCoy, owner of Three Rivers Mercantile. “We had a petting zoo, product demonstrations, drawings for big and little prizes, a ribbon cutting, the volunteer firefighters cooked more than 400 burgers, the school kids sold ice cream… there was literally something for everybody.”
   It seemed like nearly everybody came as hundreds of customers, some who used the occasion to gawk at the huge inventory for the first time, streamed in and out nearly all day long. McCoy said after working seven days a week for the past seven months, it was gratifying to hear attendees sing the praises of the new hardware store.

  “I had several folks tell me the grand opening was the biggest event ever held in Three Rivers that didn’t serve alcohol,” McCoy said.
   But anyone who knows Mike McCoy wasn’t too surprised by this grandiose opening because he’s been successful in the past. The fact that he’s been there and done that is due to astute planning and hard work.
   Nothing’s changed in his latest venture, and by also being the developer of the property, he even had a backup plan if unforeseen market conditions dictated that a local home-improvement store wouldn’t work. If the store’s first quarter is any indicator, Three Rivers Mercantile has hit a homerun.
   But McCoy, who insists he built the store to fill a need and not necessarily to make money, expects his investment to payoff someday as he steadily builds equity in the property and the business.

  “In business, timing is everything and we’ve been lucky all along the way, mostly with factors we couldn’t control,” McCoy said. “Today, I couldn’t buy this property for what it was worth even two years ago, rising gas prices, my employees, the customer base, and so many things have all lined up to make this business a pleasure to operate.”
   Even the long-awaited grand opening was orchestrated as McCoy waited until the weather cooled slightly, the staff was trained, and some glitches in the inventory had been worked out.

  “We won’t know really where this business is going until we experience all four seasons,” McCoy said. “Right now, we are listening to our customers. I am amazed at what they are telling us we need and what will work here in Three Rivers.”
   The goal, he said, is to find just the right mix of products for the local market. Soon an expanded garden section will be added.

  “Forget about thinking small,” McCoy said. “The right presence is everything. The reward for me is seeing the community come in this store and have a great experience,” McCoy said.
   On Saturday, hundreds did just that and after hanging at the hardware store, it was time for the movable feast to head up canyon to Sierra Subs & Salads. That’s where Laura Harris, owner of the one-year-old sandwich shop was throwing an epicurean’s delight as she unveiled an all-new menu.

  Ingredients for success: SIERRA SUBS & SALADS-- “We passed out all kinds of free samples of our sandwiches, smoothies, and everything on the menu,” Laura said. “Our neighboring businesses donated prizes and the main attraction was the music of Faena Brava. They were the life of the party.”
   The new menu items scored too, Laura said, because after a few bites a number of revelers went inside and ordered large meals.

  “We really weren’t prepared for all the business that the event generated for the shop,” Laura said. “There was a huge response and immediate increase in sales.”
   Laura said it will take more good days like the anniversary party to ensure the long-term success of the business. She knows that they serve a great product but the restaurant business traditionally is a fickle one and ekes by on a very slim margin of profit.
   Serving good food is something Laura Harris has taken pride in doing since her very first job at the Noisy Water Café in 1974.

  “I just love the food and beverage business and really enjoy serving the community,” Laura said. “The shop has allowed me to meet a lot more local people and that’s been very rewarding.”
   But she says there are so many variables to consider, including how many hours she is able to work without taking away from time when she is needed at her other business — The River Inn and Cabins — which she has operated for the past five years with her husband, Jerry. It’s a delicate balancing act and at some point she will have to make a decision.

  “There’s enough in it [Sierra Subs] for some paychecks, but right now for me it is mostly a labor of love,” Laura said. “In my heart, I want to serve good quality, fresh, fast food. I hope that Three Rivers will continue to support us and we can eventually show some real profitability.”

OUTDOOR FEATureS:

Kaweah Country folks

on land and sea...

Happy Days:

Taking a ride

on The Smile Train

   On Saturday, Sept. 16, a charity cycling event was held to raise money for The Smile Train, an international nonprofit organization that provides free surgery to children with cleft lips and palates. The more than 50-mile ride began and ended at the Lions Arena in Three Rivers and was organized by Kevin Foster of Kaweah, a retired professional cyclist.
   Here is Kevin’s recount of the inaugural event:

  “Because this was the first year and I was ignorant enough to think it wouldn’t be so difficult to put on a program such as this — just announce it, have a bunch of cyclists show up, and let’s all ride — I only began planning it about three months ago, but a lot of experience was gathered in that time frame to where I know what I want to do differently for next year’s ride that, by the way, will be Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007.

  “All the riders and participants thought the event was well organized — boy, did we have them fooled — and are looking forward to returning next year and were very generous all the way through.

  “With just a handful of people but a large amount of passion, we were able to raise $4,500, which translates into operations for 18 children somewhere in this world. That’s a lot of smiles for which this small community of ours will be responsible.

  “Even though my goal was to at least double the initial $2,500, we missed it by $500 or operations for two children, but there are no complaints for this first-time effort.
   In fact, when I mentioned to the participants that next year’s goal was to add at least one more child to what we did this year, or a minimum of 19 children next year, they quickly outvoted me, unanimously shouting that we will double the smiles of children this time next year.

  “As The Smile Train representative explained, when the organization began nearly seven years ago, the first child they helped was a girl from China who had lived with a cleft lip and palate for the first 11 years of her life and was scorned and ridiculed by her community.

  “Since then, operations for nearly 200,000 children have been paid for by The Smile Train through the generous donations by people like us, and that little girl from China is now almost 19 years old and can hold her head high and not only think and dream but can actually say how determined she is to become a doctor so that she can help others as they helped her.

  “And it all started with a story of that little girl from China who’s now grown up and wants to help others. That’s what this first-time cycling event and the ones to follow are all about.”

Come swells or rough water:

Locals participate in ocean swim

   How could a couple of guys from landlocked Three Rivers possibly make a good showing in an ocean-swimming competition? An Everest journey, perhaps; Eco-Challenge, sure; but swimming with sharks and big waves, riptides and saltwater?
   On Sunday, Sept. 10, Three Rivers residents Jerry Shandrew and Kevin Pearsall headed to sea level to compete in the La Jolla Rough Water Swim. More than 2,000 competitors from throughout the world participated in the 76th annual competition.
The event consists of a one-mile swim — the Masters event — and an open three-mile cove swim — the Gatorman.
   Jerry, who competed in both events, placed third in the 35-39 division in the men’s one-mile swim with a time of 2 minutes, 25 seconds, which was good enough for a 23rd overall finish.
   One hour later, he dove back in the water for a fifth-place finish in the grueling three-mile Gatorman competition in a time of 1:10:09. Kevin was just behind him with a time of 1:11:23, which netted him a ninth-place finish (35-39).

  “It was tough getting back into the water for the Gatorman swim with basically no rest,” said Jerry. “So I took the first one mile out really easy and then just built my momentum from there.”
   Kevin’s strategy was “to get a good, fast start in the race and try to maintain a good straight line with the pier as a focal point to stay on course and out of the kelp beds that are throughout the course.”
   The pair trained locally by taking two- to three-mile swims in Lake Kaweah and swimming 3,000 to 5,000 meters in a pool. They also participated in several other “open water” swims in Southern California this past summer.
   And there’s no better way to prepare for an ocean race than by hiking to an elevation of 12,343 feet above sea level, which was accomplished on Sawtooth Peak in Mineral King. Locals may have even seen the athletes on their multi-mile foothills route along Dinely and Sierra drives.
   Jerry has competed in the La Jolla swim 15 times. Two years ago, he took first place in his age category.
   This year was Kevin’s third time participating. Last year, Jerry placed seventh and Kevin took 11th place in the Gatorman, meaning they had marked improvement in 2006, both advancing by two places.
   The La Jolla Rough Water Swim has been around since 1916 and held annually since the 1930s. It is an end-of-summer tradition for open-water swimmers in Southern California.

Wood ‘N’ Horse continues

award-winning ways

   Erin Farnsworth, a longtime student at Wood ‘N’ Horse Training Stables, and her mare, “Justa Native,” this year received a lifetime achievement award from the Appaloosa Horse Club. To qualify to receive this “Supreme Championship Award” amateur riders must show their horses at a multitude of events and earn over 250 national points.
   Erin and Justa Native, whom she calls “Pie,” also placed in the top five in two English classes at the annual ApHC Nationals in Oklahoma this summer and earned two Top Tens in equitation.

  “To watch Erin and Pie compete is like watching poetry in motion,” said Christy Wood, owner of Wood ‘N’ Horse Training Stables and Erin’s trainer and coach. “She has taken top honors every time she has shown her horse this year and her hard work has paid off.”
   Also at the Nationals, Christy showed her three-year-old gelding “Blue Suede Dude” to a Reserve National Championship in Ladies’ Heritage. This class honors the Native American tribe of Nez Perce Indians who, like the ApHC today, were partial to Appaloosas.
   The last show for the 2006 California Appaloosa show circuit was held during the weekend of August 19-20 in Southern California. At the event, the Wood ‘N’ Horse show team received nine High Point awards.
   Erin and Pie won six of them, including Over Fence Horse, Games Horse, Western Horse, English Horse, Non Pro, and Overall Show Horse. Christy and three-year-old Blue Suede Dude won High Point in Junior Western Horse and Junior English Horse.
   Christy, Erin, and other Wood ‘N’ Horse show team members and their beautiful Appaloosas will provide a demonstration of the talent and pageantry involved in showing horses for those in attendance at the All Town Dinner Dance on Saturday, Sept. 30.

What the dickens will

Charles Dickens be doing here?

   One of the best loved authors of all time will get his moment in the shade at this year's Concert on the Grass when award-winning actor/director John Slade takes the stage and brings to life the most memorable characters from Oliver Twist. Fagin, Bumble, and Artful Dodger will all be summoned forth by John's talent for voice and posture, and the highlight will be the hilarious scene between the portly Mr. Beadle and the unctuous Mrs. Corney.
   Also, the entire choir of Chamber Singers from COS are returning to Three Rivers to lend their breathtaking harmonies, their ethereal lyricism, and their unabated joy of singing to the service of Handel, William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Gilbert and Sullivan, and the immortal Wolfgang Mozart.
   The weather promises to be fine, the lawn is freshly mown, and the corner of the stage has been repaired where a tree fell on it last winter. Special parking has been prepared for everyone who wants to attend the All Town Dinner Dance after the Concert on the Grass, which usually ends about 5:30 p.m.
   Here's how to get there, and what to do once you arrive:
   The concert takes place near the end of Dinely Drive. Cross the bridge, bear right, then follow the “Concert” signs to the site.
   Try to arrive by 2:30 p.m. to have enough time to park and set up your place. The lawn is large enough to spread out blankets or chairs in the shade. Feel free to bring a picnic.
   As always, the Concert on the Grass is a free event. Bring a friend. Or three.

Halloween Carnival

will be rockin’

   Plans are coming together for the annual Fall Carnival, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28, 4 to 8 p.m., at Three Rivers School.
   The dinner menu is being created. Games supplies are being inventoried. Work schedules are being completed. Pumpkins are being picked.
   In fact, the Pumpkin Sale will return this year. Stop by Three Rivers Mercantile from Wednesday, Oct. 11, to Friday, Oct. 20, after school through 6 p.m., and pick your perfect pumpkin.
   And the prizes are rolling in, which will be used for the raffle and the Pick-A-Prize. But more are always needed as these two prize-giveaway events are favorite attractions of the Carnival as well as a way to advertise the generosity of local businesses.
   The music lineup this year is unprecedented with Uncommon A Cappella, folk and bluegrass by Mankin Creek, Faena Brava, ‘70s rock by Steamhammer with Martin Pugh, and the Darren Owsley variety group.
   For more information on how to get involved with the Carnival or to make a prize donation, call Susan, 561-0553.

New yet familiar face in TKC office

   You might already have recognized that familiar phone voice or had her take a classified ad at the counter in the office of The Kaweah Commonwealth.
   She’s Kathy Casey, the former owner of the NAPA Auto Parts store in Three Rivers (1986-1998). Kathy was recently hired as an administrative assistant and she’ll be wearing several hats in her new position.
   Kathy’s main responsibilities will be that of circulation manager and customer service representative. She’ll be ensuring timely distribution of each week’s paper as well as monitoring the mailing process for paid subscribers.
   Many locals will remember Kathy from those years when she was a fixture behind the counter at the NAPA store, now the home of Sequoia Gifts and Sierra Subs. After selling the business, Kathy took a year off and moved to Lemon Cove.
   In 1999, with her new partner, Steve Perry, also formerly of Three Rivers, she moved to Cortez, Colo., where she again worked in a NAPA store. In the following year, the couple returned to Three Rivers where both trained as long-haul truckers and bought their own rig.
   Kathy said they hauled “high-dollar” loads for Super Wal-Marts and later Ralph’s when they had enough experience to operate independently. Earlier this year, they worked in the Valley hauling bulk ag loads.
   Shifting gears and taking a break from the trucker lifestyle, Steve and Kathy recently launched a screen-printing business called Word Wear. Kathy says the flexible hours with the Commonwealth are a good fit with their business plans.

  “This job is like a coming out for me,” Kathy said. “I haven’t seen some of these folks for more than 10 years. It’s great seeing all my old friends again.”



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