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  In the News - Friday, OCTOBER 1, 2004



   On Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 3:55 p.m., an earthquake rumbled through Three Rivers. But although it shook, rattled, and rolled, there was no damage reported.
   The 5.0-magnitude quake was centered in the small Kern County community of Keene, about 25 miles southeast of Bakersfield on Highway 58. Keene is at the southernmost end of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, about 75 air miles due south of Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park.
   The quake occurred a day after a magnitude-6.0 earthquake rumbled through the remote Monterey County town of Parkfield, about 25 miles south of Coalinga. There are no reports of that tremor or any of its 500+ aftershocks being felt in Three Rivers.
Parkfield is 90 miles southwest of Three Rivers in the Coast Range.




   On Sunday, Sept. 26, when a worker on the Bar O Ranch near South Fork and Old Three Rivers drives was mowing a pasture, the last thing he expected was a grass fire to ignite. But after cutting the very first swath through the tinder dry grass, he turned the Bobcat around and couldn’t believe his eyes.

  “I saw huge flames burning the section of pasture I was cutting and they were heading straight for a bulldozer that was parked there,” the worker explained. “I figured the flames couldn’t do much more than burn the fenced pasture, but I had to get that dozer out.”
   The man, who has asked not to be identified, said he ran across the burning pasture and jumped on the bulldozer that was already partially on fire. He then drove it out of the pasture where he extinguished the flames that were burning the duff that had been built up on the underside of the machine.
   By that time, some local residents and several fire units had arrived on the scene. Firefighters were content to stand by and let the fire burn out within the pasture where it had started.
   According to information gathered at the scene, a gust of wind carried embers from the pasture to a larger pasture more than 100 yards east of where the fire had started. With several homes and large hay barn now being threatened, Battalion Chief Jimmie Hall quickly summoned more resources.
   Within minutes, air tankers were dropping retardant and a dozer was cutting a firebreak along the perimeter of the blaze that had grown to seven acres. At 2:30 p.m., approximately one hour after the incident was reported, firefighters had the blaze contained. Several units remained on the scene until 8 p.m. to mop up and prevent any flare-ups.
   According to a report of the incident issued by the Tulare County Fire Department, the fire was sparked when the mower struck a rock. One person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
   The man operating the mower was issued a citation. Final dispensation in the case is pending review by the Tulare County Fire Department.



   On Wednesday, Sept. 29, Jody Lyle, fire information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, announced that fire crews had successfully completed the 60-acre Grant West prescribed burn located in the northwest corner of the Grant Grove area. The one-day ignition that was undertaken on Tuesday was the first prescribed fire ignited by park fire crews since June 28.
   The Grant West Fire is part of a larger complex of smaller burn units that were ignited during 1990 and 1995. There are 12 acres excluded from the project boundaries that contain the General Grant Tree, the nation’s ceremonial living Christmas Tree.
Park fire managers expect to ignite more acreage as conditions permit. Lyle said those ignitions could be undertaken as early as this weekend.
   The local national parks also announced the reducing of fire restrictions effective October 1. Campfires, barbecues, or cooking stoves (gas or propane) are again permitted above 6,000 feet and in all designated campgrounds. Smoking is not permitted below 6,000 feet except in an enclosed vehicle.

   Fire restrictions also remain in effect on the Sequoia, Sierra, and Inyo National Forests. Bureau of Land Management public use areas also have current fire restrictions.   When planning an outing in or near any public lands, contact the respective agency for the latest information.





   The final few minutes of last year’s Concert on the Grass provided some unexpected magic. As a web of flute, harp and piano music spun into the late afternoon shadows, a flock of small birds — starlings, I think — swept in from Shepherd Creek and began to swirl above the stage. For several minutes, they swooped and dove and separated and rejoined as the music crested and wound down.
   We could hardly believe what we were seeing; the birds appeared to be drawn to the music and held by it. When the music ended, they hovered briefly, then flew off. Of course, despite our best efforts to persuade them to return for an encore performance this year, they haven’t responded to our invitation. Maybe music is the only human language they understand.
   Even if the birds don’t return, this year’s 23rd annual concert on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m., promises to be a good one. The Wyndfall Trio is back with a new program, and the extraordinary flutist, Tracy Harris, will introduce another fine flutist, Luisa Suorsa, in Doppler’s Andante and Rondo for two flutes and piano.
   Once again, Dick Isham will open the show, this time with Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor. He’ll follow with jazz great George Shearing’s arrangement of Over the Rainbow. Dick says the Shearing arrangement brings Ravel and Debussey to mind, and that either of those composers might have created a similar arrangement had they lived in the jazz era.
   There will be a smattering of poetry, a bit of drama, then a welcome and overdue visit from Concert on the Grass founder emeritus Dr. Harry Ison. Harry will perform his own composition “Three Little Pieces,” written while he was living in Quito, Ecuador. In the second of the three pieces, the music wistfully captures the color and warmth of a dance in a small village plaza. Here’s how Harry describes it:

  “An elderly couple lives on the plaza and their balcony overlooks it. They are reminiscing about the dances they used to do. The strains of a dance melody appear. Young people come into the plaza and begin to dance, faster and faster, then they stop, leave the plaza and the strains of the dance fade away. The old couple says, ‘We can do that again!’ They try, but finally they stop and simply reminisce.”
   The Concert on the Grass is held on the lawn of the Haxton home. Take Highway 198 through Three Rivers one-quarter of a mile past We Three Bakery. Turn left on Dinely. Cross the bridge over the river, bear right and keep going about two-and-a-half miles. There will be signs along the way.
   The concert starts at 3 pm, but plan to arrive half an hour early if you can. We have a much improved shuttle system this year for transporting everyone up the driveway. Bring a picnic if you like, and a lawn chair or blanket for seating.
   Last, hope for the happy return of the starlings.


John C. Hicks
1955 ~ 2004

   John C. Hicks died Friday, Sept. 24, 2004, at his Three Rivers residence. JC, as he was known to those who knew and loved him, was 49.
   JC was born in Tennessee on May 25, 1955, and moved with his family to Ventura at a young age. He moved in with his sister, Nina, of Three Rivers six years ago.
   Rarely separated from his beloved Harley, he was known to many people in Three Rivers as a fun-loving, trustworthy friend. He always had a smile, a joke, and a helping hand for everyone.
JC is survived by his sister, Nina, of Three Rivers, his sister, Sandi, of Hanford, his sister, Charlotte, of San Francisco, his sister, Joy, of Seattle, and his brother, Don, of Hanford; and many nieces, nephews and in-laws.
   A memorial service will be held today (Friday, October 1), at 4 p.m., at Evans-Miller Chapel in Exeter. A reception will follow at the Gateway Restaurant in Three Rivers.

John R. Loucks
1922 ~ 2004

   John Robert Loucks of Sequim, Wash., died Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, of pneumonia. The former resident of Three Rivers was 82.
John was born June 4, 1922, in Joliet, Ill. In 1942, he married the former Norma Peterson there, and he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
   Norma preceded him in death on Nov. 2, 1993.
   John is survived by one son, one daughter, his sister, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.






   Last Friday, when the Woodlake Tigers traveled down Highway 65 to meet the Strathmore Spartans, they figured this was a game they could win. In fact, the Tigers did lead until midway through the second quarter. That’s when the Spartans scored the first of two first-half touchdowns that gave the Spartans a 13-3 lead at intermission.
   The Woodlake offense sputtered once again, but did convert a field goal on the game’s first series. Critical mistakes that came mostly in the form of penalties stopped the Tigers on every other first-half possession.
   In the second half, the Spartans’ very first series set the stage for another disappointing Tiger loss. After eluding a sack, Johnny Morrison, the Spartan’s southpaw QB, scrambled left and found a wide-open receiver for a 67-yard scoring strike.
   The conversion failed and with less than a minute gone in the third quarter, the Tigers trailed 19-3.
   But to their credit, there is no quit in these youthful Tigers. After an exchange of punts, Soukarana Stephens, junior running back, burst outside for a 35-yard touchdown, his first of the season.
   After a two-point conversion the Tigers only trailed 19-11. But the Spartans answered with another broken play that resulted in a 57-yard TD pass.
   Woodlake’s Jose Duran scored on a three-yard run with 2:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. That score proved to little too late.

  “We’re not about to panic because it’s just a matter of time,” said Costa. “We have all the tools to win but we just aren’t hitting on all cylinders.”
   The game also featured a tense moment when Woodlake’s Aaron Payne, who had 17 tackles in the game, was carted off the field via ambulance. Payne, a junior linebacker from Three Rivers, suffered a broken scapula and will be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
   Tonight, the Tigers travel to Dinuba to meet the powerful Emperors in the league opener for both teams. Costa said this week marks the start of three consecutive games against the East Sequoia League’s “bruisers” — Dinuba, Immanuel, and Coalinga.

  “We just need one win to get our confidence,” Costa said.
   In the junior varsity game, Woodlake dominated Strathmore, winning 35-14. Thomas Navarro scored three TDs, one via the ground and two on passes from John Gomez, frosh QB.

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