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In the News - Friday, January 21, 2011


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)





Just a few of the fascinating folks

who made news during the past year


"Saying Goodbye: Gone but not forgotten"

Obituaries 2010

and a look back at

Neighbor Profiles 2010


CSD hires general manager

  After a month-long search to fill its general manager position, Cindy Howell was chosen by the Three Rivers Community Services District board of directors from a field of dozens of applicants. She replaces Julie Doctor who resigned last month citing that she wanted to return to some private sector opportunities that were just too good to turn down.     

  “Last time around when we hired Julie we wanted someone with the water license certifications,” said David Mills, CSD president. “But what we realized is that the job is actually two-thirds administration and one-third water treatment and testing so we feel this time Cindy is the best choice.”

  Mills said the board appreciates the time they had Julie Doctor, who replaced Randy Pares last February. Pares had been in the position since 2004 until relocating to Wyoming.

  First and foremost, the position calls for someone who knows Three Rivers and the people who live here, Mills said. As a 43-year-old mother of two teens, Cindy, whose family moved here when she was two, has worked for nearly every prominent business and knows just about everybody who has lived here for any length of time.

  “Working and raising my kids here in Three Rivers is all I ever wanted to do,” Cindy recalled. “After the CSD board asked me to help with the bookkeeping and the year-end reports, it was Julie who suggested I apply for the job.”

  In considering Cindy’s work experience, the five-member board did not need to ask where she had worked previously but rather where she hadn’t worked. After graduating from Woodlake High with the class of 1984 she has worked at the Indian and Noisy Water restaurants, Stivers Construction, Village Market and Cutting Room, as a teacher’s aide at Three Rivers School, an extended stint in the office of Darrell Rich, D.D.S., as a personal assistant for local Realtor Diana Glass, in the office of ISG, as a secretary for First Baptist Church, and since 2000 she also has had a host of other businesses and individuals as clients after she opened her own bookkeeping business.

  Along the way she married Tim Howell, a local landscaper, in 1989 and together they built their house in Washburn Cove. She said she’s also been a stay-at-home mom who later became active in their Tract 403 Mutual Water Company, so she’s no stranger to the business of water either. 

  Cindy, who taught herself QuickBooks, the industry software standard for accountants, said that the bookkeeping experience gave her a big advantage over the other applicants. One challenge she is looking forward to is updating the entire accounting system of the CSD.

  As to the fieldwork that includes collecting water samples from the river and monitoring septic systems, that’s more of what will make this job enjoyable for this Three Rivers kid. She said she also plans to get the public better acquainted with their local CSD and introduce some future projects that might be in its realm of possibilities.

  “I’m totally honored to serve my community in this capacity,” Cindy said. “It’s the culmination of my career, and I plan on retiring from this position.”

Fisherman rescued from chilly Kaweah

  While searching the shoreline upstream from the Indian Head swimming hole for a fishing spot last Sunday afternoon (January 16), Scott Baker, 37, of Visalia slipped into the chilly water of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. He was then swept 200 feet downstream to just above the Ash Mountain entrance station in Sequoia National Park.
According to a report by the Tulare County Fire Department, park rangers and local firefighters located the man clinging to a rock in the river channel. Rescuers were able to get a rope to the man and sent along a life vest, helmet, and water rescue board.
   Another rescue team was positioned farther downstream at the Pumpkin Hollow Bridge (adjacent to The Gateway Restaurant) in case the victim floated free while rescuers at the scene conducted the victim to the far side of the river via the rope. From there the man was directed to walk downstream to a safe place in the river where he was assisted across and up an embankment to safety.
   Although the man was in the water for more than an hour he did not appear to be injured. He was transported to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia for a check-up.

Rain eludes weekly forecast

  The weak upper level high pressure that has produced intermittent sunshine in the foothills and patches of dense fog in the flatlands is likely to continue for the remainder of January. That means dry conditions locally and that the moisture-laden clouds are currently delivering their wallop to the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, and the Great Lakes and Atlantic coast regions.
   While National Weather Service forecasters in Hanford admit it’s too early to tell what the rest of the season will bring, they all agree that the local rainfall season is not over. Reports that there has already been more precipitation in most areas of California than one year ago were a bit premature but storm totals as of January 1 are only slightly below the April 1 norms; snowpack and water content have been revised and currently are still well above normal for January.
   That 10 feet of snow at elevations above 7,000 feet is going through its daily ritual of the nightly freeze while afternoon sunshine melts away a top layer to make for slushy, sticky snow, the type skiers refer to as “corn.” The conditions are still good for skiing in the higher elevations but most experts are advising to get an early start for optimal snowplay.
   The winter rangers at Tuolumne Meadows, at 9,000 feet in Yosemite National Park, are reporting a winter heatwave this week with temperatures in the upper 50s. The meltdown has started, according to the report, and water is everywhere.
   One bonus of high country winter travel is the countless critter tracks in the snow. The most common tracks belong to white-tailed jackrabbit, coyotes, numerous rodents, pine marten, and even an occasional cougar.
   The Generals Highway in the Giant Forest and Lodgepole/Wuksachi Village areas is currently clear but call ahead for current chains/four-wheel drive requirements (565-3341). Winter weather in the mountains can change quickly so be prepared.


Browsing the selection at

Chump's DVD rental store

Come for the swimming, stay for the movies

by Andrew Glazier

  I have volunteered to write a movie-review column as I watch lots of films and have written newspaper articles from time to time in the Bay Area. I feel indebted to Chump’s, which is a shrine of amazing films, as I have suffered through untold hours of overproduced garbage in the past. I consider these reviews my community service.
—Andrew Glazier

   Ed. note: This new column is timely as Chump’s celebrated their seventh anniversary in Three Rivers this week.

Introduction— I stood in line a few months back to return movies to a Redbox movie rental machine in Exeter. The movies were already late and to make matters worse, they were forgettable.
  “Don’t bother, the machine is full,” a woman told me. It seemed the movies I didn’t enjoy would cost me even more as I drove to Visalia to try to return them there. I swore I wouldn’t use the machine ever again and to my credit I still haven’t.
   One movie store in Exeter was going out of business and had stopped renting altogether. Still another famous chain had gone belly up and I realized finding quality movies would get harder still.
   My wife and I had thrown out our television when the digital conversion happened and discontinued our internet service because of hidden costs by the company that became huge using similar tactics as a phone company. It seemed finding movies we could all enjoy was going to be impossible.
   One weekend in Three Rivers, my wife and I were swimming at a local spot when someone mentioned Chump’s video. I was intrigued. Anything named Chump’s had to be different.
   I had no idea how right I was. I wandered in dripping wet and apologized to the cashier.
  “If I kicked out every person who was swimming before coming here I’d be out of business.”
   I was impressed by the welcoming tone and continued to browse the shelves. My biggest complaint with other video stores is the overabundance of violent Hollywood films and the lack of foreign films and documentaries.
   Chump’s has loads of hard-to-find titles. I began with one film, then two, and before I realized it, I had five films.
   I wondered if it was possible to rent this many. I discovered that when I rent five films, I get the sixth for free and there are no late charges (except on new releases).
   I stood at the counter in disbelief. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode.
   The cashier began ringing them up and mentioned things about each film he liked. I was amazed at his knowledge and every time I returned was increasingly happy with his advice.
   I asked him why they didn’t have someone review the films in the local paper. Apparently they had considered it but had been too busy to get around to it. I needed no more prodding.
   That said, I want to start my reviews with a movie, which, if it wasn’t true would be unbelievable...

Pray the Devil Back To Hell
Gini Reticker

   This is a story of a single mother in war-torn Liberia who has a dream that peace will only come when Muslim and Christian women unite against the dictator and the equally violent warlords who vie for power. When she tells the congregation of her vision, she is instantly welcomed by the women and encouraged to reach out to the Muslim women.
   The film chronicles the growing protests at a local fish market by the interfaith movement, which culminates when the women hold a strike against their husbands and boyfriends by withholding affections.   Finally, the women are allowed to give their grievances to the brutal dictator, knowing full well it could cost them their lives.
   This film is a must-see for women and men alike. I would encourage people to have friends over as this movie is currently playing to packed audiences in larger cities. The extras on the DVD are equally well worth watching.
   I give this film a “3 Rivers” rating out of a possible three.

When the Levees Broke
Spike Lee

   This is a three-DVD set that has amazing footage of the post-Katrina destruction the networks never showed, as well as countless interviews to be seen nowhere else. I was never a huge Spike Lee fan but this film, I believe, is his crowning achievement and will become the definitive film on the tragedy.
   I couldn’t stop watching it and found myself glued to my chair for some six hours. The interviews alone contain many things the networks couldn’t show as the dialog contains unedited obscenities. No surprise when viewers see the conditions citizens were forced to endure.
   This film also gets a “3 Rivers” rating.

Tinker Bell
Walt Disney Video

   Finally, my three-year-old daughter loves all three of the Tinker Bell films from Disney, which finally gives Peter Pan’s sidekick a movie of her own. The computer graphics are top-notch and parents will enjoy watching along with the kids.
   I would give this a “2 Rivers” rating but I’m sure my daughter would give it a “3.”
                        * * *
   As most readers already know, Chump’s is located at 41707 Sierra Drive. They offer many other services beyond movie rentals.
   They are the UPS shipping center for Three Rivers, as well as provide fax and copy services and VHS transfers to DVD (which is amazing when one looks at their VHS tapes gathering dust since the video player died). Photo restoration and DVD and CD repair are also available.
   This store is a gem.

Retrospective: Three Rivers Ambulance Service

by Sandy Owen

Part 1
   The Three Rivers Ambulance was founded in 1956 as a result of the efforts of the Three Rivers Lady Lions Club. Bernadine Wollenman, president, appointed Patsy Britten, Ollie Craig, and Virginia Williams to inquire about laws, requirements, insurance, and prices of ambulance vehicles.
   When their findings showed that this was too large a project for just one group, they enlisted the help of the local Fellowship League, Three Rivers Lions Club, Three Rivers Woman’s Club, and Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce. The four ladies who spearheaded the initial findings were joined by Beth Homer, Walter Chaboude, and Frances and Willis Beutler to discuss ways and means of fundraising.
   By March 29, 1957, the ambulance fund had a total amount of $1,327.20, resulting from events such as dinners and fashion shows, as well as community donations. An ambulance in Sanger was for sale for $200, equipped with some medical supplies, but needing mechanical repairs, tires, and paint.
   It was agreed to purchase that ambulance and to incorporate as Three Rivers Ambulance Service. The Articles of Incorporation were prepared at no cost by Richard E. Combs Sr., who later in his career was the federal magistrate for Sequoia National Park.
   At the first meeting (April 9, 1957) of the Ambulance Committee, officers were elected: Walt Chaboude, chairman; Willis Beutler, treasurer; and Bernie Wollenman, secretary. Directors were Virginia Williams, Beth Homer, Patsy Britten, Ollie Craig, and Frances Beutler.
A phone was installed in Chaboude’s home to receive calls for an ambulance driver. The local fire station was asked to serve as a center for ambulance calls.
   The board arranged to obtain first-aid instruction for the ambulance drivers as the vehicle code required that the driver or attendant must have an advanced first-aid card.
   By the second meeting (April 22, 1957), Chairman Chaboude had attended a Tulare County Ambulance Company meeting. Rates for transport were discussed, and the group requested that all county ambulance companies abide by the same rate.
   What was eventually agreed upon was charging a call rate of $5 plus 50 cents per mile.
   In addition that month, the fire department agreed to not only be the center for ambulance calls but also to allow the ambulance to be housed there. Russ Garcia of Woodlake quoted an insurance rate of $240 for one year.
   In July 1957, the committee agreed to provide ambulance service to Sequoia National Park as the park did not have a regular ambulance. They set a fee of $31 from Lodgepole to Exeter Hospital, and $35 to a Visalia hospital.
   Also at this meeting, it was agreed that on calls needing first aid, an attendant should ride in the ambulance in order to abide by insurance regulations.
   By September 1959, it became necessary to raise rates. Ambulance expenses, including a new engine and tires, had rendered a profit of $1.18 over the past three years. The base rate was increased to $7.50 with 60 cents per mile. By May 1960, the corporation purchased a 1960 Chevrolet panel truck for $1,261 and had it converted into an ambulance.
   To be continued next week.
   Sandy Owen is a longtime board member and crew member of the Three Rivers Ambulance Service, who will one of those honored at the Firefighter/EMS Celebration on Friday, Jan. 28.

Three Rivers experiences 'Earth Magic'

by Lisa Lieberman

  It was a cold, rainy night but that didn’t stop over 100 people from braving the elements to see photographer Elizabeth Lieberman’s exhibit, “Earth Magic,” on opening night. The exhibit was featured at the Cort Gallery last month.
   Elizabeth, who came from New Orleans especially for the show, displayed a series of photographs of ancient manmade stone monuments from England, Peru, and India.
  “I was definitely glad I drove through the rain to get here,” said Andrew, who works at the nearby Kaweah Oaks Preserve and sometimes attends the Sunday night drumming at the Cort Gallery. “It was a wonderful exhibit.”
   Although Andrew, like most people, had heard about ancient manmade stone structures like Stonehenge in England, he had no idea that they existed in other parts of the world as well.
  “I think there’s something really enigmatic about the stones. It’s almost a visual pun and there’s really more questions than answers,” Andrew said. “But I like the fact that the artist didn’t stress out about trying to analyze the rocks or how they got there. I like the fact that she just seemed to appreciate the subject matter.”
   Janene Lasswell of Three Rivers, who won the door prize at the show and had her pick of all the photos, chose a framed photo of Machu Picchu, which is the site of a 15th-century Inca civilization.
  “I don’t know why, but Machu Picchu is something that has always resonated with me,” Janene said. “I don’t normally go to a lot of art shows here, but I love photography and thought there was something really special about this show.”
   In addition to all the rock formations, Janene was struck by the variety of subjects in the show, which included wildflower portraits from around the world as well as tree-lined pathways winding through the marshy New Orleans swamps nearby where Elizabeth lives.
  “Some of the wildflower photos are so vivid,” Janene said. “The cool thing about it was they reminded me of the wildflowers here in Three Rivers, even though the actual photos were taken thousands of miles away.”
   Another favorite photo of many attendees was the “Men-an-Tol,” which was quite possibly constructed sometime in the Bronze Age between 2,000 and 10,000 BC. This photo captures the image of a large, holed stone and two upright stone pillars on a grassy moorland in Cornwall. There are many legends surrounding Men-an-Tol associated with healing and fertility, such as the requirement that a person crawl or pass through the stone to receive its many blessings.
   Gary Cort, who has hosted many art exhibits over the past 20 years, said this show was unique because it seemed to have something for everybody.
  “The show got a really good response and there was a lot of interest in the subject matter. Overall, it generated a lot of long, interesting conversations,” Gary said.
   For more information about Elizabeth’s photos or to order prints, e-mail ethl@earthlink.net or call 504-887-7714.
   Lisa Lieberman writes from her Three Rivers home.





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