In the News -
Friday, OCTOBER 14, 2005
The first significant cold air mass of the season will be
making its way into the central and southern Sierra region by Saturday,
bringing with it a blast of winter.
Most of the precipitation associated with the system dropping
down out of the frigid Gulf of Alaska is expected to be confined to the
higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountains north of Kern County.
It’s not known if any of that moisture will fall in
the Three Rivers foothills but the system is expected to bring clouds,
good air quality, and a sudden 20-degree drop in daytime temperatures.
Today (Friday, Oct. 14), forecasters are calling for a high
around 90 degrees. By Saturday, highs will be closer to 70.
Early winter weather in October is nothing new for Kaweah
Country but this system has the potential to dump heavy snow in the nearby
mountains at elevations above 7,000 feet.
Rangers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will wait
until at least Saturday to make the call for a change in road conditions
in the local mountains, but motorists traveling in the Sierra Nevada are
being advised to carry chains and to be prepared for winter storm conditions.
Despite the best efforts of Park Service personnel, there
are always a few visitors who are caught by surprise in the season’s
first significant storm. Hikers who backpack out in late-summer conditions
suddenly find themselves unprepared to navigate trails in snowstorms.
The chain requirements mean extra business for some Three
Jeff Weiss, the new owner of the Totem Market just outside
the Ash Mountain entrance station to Sequoia Park, said if the first storm
of the season comes on a weekend that would suit him just fine.
Weiss said he has extra help on weekends and they’ve
been planning for chain rentals since day one.
Tulare County benefits
In the harsh reality of California politics, it’s a
challenge to find capable public servants who really strive to make a
difference and take their constituents’ best interests to heart.
But one politician, Bill Maze, a self described dirt farmer
and no stranger to hard work, is serving Tulare County in Sacramento and
insists he is the right man for a very difficult job.
For the past 10 years, Bill Maze has worked tirelessly in
public service. He initially focused on the business of the county where
he was born and raised by serving as a Tulare County supervisor. While
in that office, he worked on numerous boards and learned that some of
the best action was interaction.
Maze said that several years ago, while running for his newly
created assembly district encompassing more than 22,000 square miles,
that he had gained valuable experience by serving on federal advisory
boards, state committees, and county councils. He was ready to put that
experience to work in Sacramento, he said, and in 2002 he won an impressive
election becoming the first Visalian to serve in the state assembly.
Maze’s rise in Valley politics already seems extraordinary
for a country boy born in Woodlake who later lived in Lindcove and attended
a rural grade school at Locust Grove.
never had more than 40 students in the entire school and the only superintendent
and teachers we ever had were a husband-and-wife team,” Maze recalled.
After his parents moved onto his grandparents’ place
north of Exeter, Maze’s family continued in farming, albeit on more
acreage. He graduated from Exeter High School in 1964 and then continued
on to college.
came down to the University of California at Davis or Cal Poly San Luis
Obispo,” Maze said. “I’ve never regretted the decision
to go to Cal Poly because Davis is theoretical. A more practical education
was a better fit with what I wanted to do.”
During those college years, Maze married his sweetheart,
Becky. After earning a bachelor of science degree in Ag Business Management
with a specialty in fruit production, Maze worked for the USDA keeping
crop statistics on the Valley’s production.
Along his career path, he helped raise four sons and a daughter, and his
family, Maze said, has always been and remains to this day his priority.
His friends, staff, and colleagues marvel at how his very
supportive wife tracks his appointments from one end of the largest assembly
district in California to the other and back and forth to Sacramento.
In the 1980s, it was Maze’s involvement with the Tulare
County Economic Development Corporation where he first confronted some
of the political issues that are on his current agenda.
those days, Rita Hill and a lot of Valley folks were touting Tulare County
as the place for a UC or a state university,” Maze said. “We
realized if we had a qualified work force, we could attract the corporations
and promote our economic growth.”
In 1995, the decision to build the first University of California
campus in more than 25 years at Merced (opened fall of 2005) was a huge
disappointment to the Tulare County boosters, Maze said. Local four-year
students are already attracted to Cal State Bakersfield or Fresno State
and now there’s UC Merced.
That situation creates a brain drain here, Maze believes.
of the lack of a public four-year institution, we have the least number
of residents living in Tulare County who go on to earn a college degree,”
Though he convinced both Democrats and his fellow Republicans
of the need, Maze could not muster the necessary support in the last legislative
session to get a mandate for a four-year state school in Tulare County.
So, this year, he did the next best thing by creating a grant
program that will fund four-year degrees at both the College of the Sequoias
in Visalia and Porterville College.
bill was signed recently by the governor and is awaiting a feasibility
study to determine what degree programs are appropriate,” Maze said.
“The first degrees will probably be in nursing, and the program
should be ready to register students by the fall of 2007.”
Maze has been instrumental in passing another bill in the
recent session that places new restrictions on first-year drivers.
Maze reflected that, in general, his first three years in
Sacramento have been well spent learning how to play the political game
and focusing on family values. In the upcoming years, water will be at
the top of his agenda.
is the most critical issue and yet most people have kept their heads buried
in the sand when it comes capturing more water and preserving its quality,”
Maze said. “The key to addressing the water issue is the management
of the forests. To preserve our unique Valley, we have to promote these
issues with our legislation and in the federal agencies.”
Burglars remain at large
As of Wednesday of this week, no arrests had been made in
connection with a September 28 break-in and burglary of a Kaweah River
Drive residence. Sheriff’s Department detectives do have at least
one suspect but have not been able to locate the individual.
According to information furnished by the victim, two more
checks that were stolen in the heist were cashed earlier this week. That
makes at least three that have been cashed from the two boxes that were
changed all the account numbers on my checking and saving accounts but
now my direct deposit transactions are all messed up,” said the
victim. “You have no idea of the effect that something like this
burglary can have until it happens.”
The thieves entered through an old door with a very flimsy
lock, the victim said. They simply pried the lock open to gain entry and
were in and out in a very short time. Several expensive items like a locked
vault of firearms were not touched.
The victim said he did notice a number of people at a nearby
swimming hole for the first time this summer.
they were paying attention, someone at the river could notice my routine
comings and goings,” the victim said. “I have a habit of going
out for my coffee every morning at 8:30 a.m. and right after I left on
that day is when this happened.”
Anyone with information about this or any other burglary
should call Detective Martin King, Tulare County Sheriff’s Department,
Paving the way
When it comes to providing county services for residents
of Three Rivers, the wheels of the powers-that-be grind slowly. That’s
especially true in the maintenance of the local county roads.
It’s not for lack of dedication on the part of Bill
Montgomery, a county worker who personally oversees the care of the area’s
80 miles of roadway and 160 miles of shoulder. But according to Bill,
who a couple years ago bought a house and relocated here, it has been
an ongoing tug-of-war to get the necessary time, labor, and materials
to do what needs to be done.
Two years ago, the county ended the inmate program so since
then Bill has had to do even more of the work himself. That’s why
he was especially pleased to get a new 2003 work truck, which has really
helped him to get more of the patch and repair work accomplished.
But even with the new truck, Bill had to apply the emulsifier
with a mop and a five-gallon bucket. That was until two weeks ago when
the Three Rivers truck was outfitted with a brand new emulsion tank and
automated spray rig.
have been asking for this upgrade for 12 years, since I first came to
Three Rivers,” Bill said. “With that new 30-gallon tank, I’m
good for an entire 10-hour shift.”
The automation means more efficiency, which allows Bill to
patch more cracks and holes, seal curbs, and get to more mailbox approaches.
The recent upgrades are especially timely this year because of extra work
scheduled for a nine-mile county portion of the Mineral King Road.
Park Service paved a portion of the upper Mineral King Road in Sequoia
recently and those big trucks running up and down really put some wear
on the county’s road,” Bill said. “That road is very
old and needs a lot of repair work.”
At least now, some of those repairs can be done before the
winter rains make that work impractical. As to Three Rivers getting its
share of county road funding, Bill says “that’s politics.”
By a peculiar quirk in how Tulare County road districts are
organized, Three Rivers is under the jurisdiction of District 4 and its
supervisor, Steve Worthley. For all other county services, Three Rivers
is in Supervisor Allen Ishida’s District 1.
local dispatch office is located in Dinuba,” Bill said. “If
you have a problem or service request, contact me through Shirley, our
dispatcher, at 591-5851.”
Plan now for
It’s a rare event, so eligible voters should make history
by exercising their right to vote in the special statewide election on
Tuesday, Nov. 8.
There are eight measures on the ballot for voters to decide.
Among these are Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “reform agenda”
propositions, numbers 74, 75, 76, and 77.
These measures make up the centerpiece of the governor’s
plan to “reform and rebuild California” through budget, redistricting,
and teacher-tenure reform. Gov. Schwarzenegger’s four key initiatives
Proposition 74: The Put the Kids First Act— Under this
proposal, teachers must have satisfactory reviews for five consecutive
years before receiving tenure (the current system requires two years).
It gives more authority to principals and school districts to decide whether
a teacher is performing well.
Proposition 75: The Paycheck Protection Act— Public employee union
dues could not be used for political contributions without prior consent.
The measure instead gives workers like law-enforcement officers, firefighters,
and teachers the right to choose whether or not union dues money from
their paychecks should be used for political purposes.
Proposition 76: The Live Within Our Means Act— Approval
of this measure will require the Legislature to spend within its means
and stabilize education funding, protecting it in the future against big
are facing an ongoing budget crisis because the Legislature can’t
seem to say no to the special interests,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger.
Opponents say this act will disrupt the balance of power
in the state government by giving the governor too much authority.
Proposition 77: The Voter Empowerment Act— Instead
of redistricting being decided by politicians, a bi-partisan independent
panel of three retired judges will draw the district lines. For example,
of the 153 congressional and state legislative races in November 2004,
not a single seat changed parties.
there is no competition between the political parties, the public loses
because legislators don’t have to stay accountable to the people,”
said Gov. Schwarzenegger.
* * *
The other initiatives for voters to decide next month are:
Proposition 73— This constitutional amendment would
require that a physician notify a parent or legal guardian of a pregnant
minor at least 48 hours prior to performing an abortion.
78— A prescription drug program would provide discounts of 40 percent
for qualifying residents (seniors and low income, uninsured Californians).
Proposition 79— An expanded drug discount program that
would be linked to Medi-Cal in order to obtain rebates on drugs.
Proposition 80— Broadened authority would be given
to the Public Utilities Commission to regulate electric service providers.
Register to vote-- The last day to register to
vote for this election is Monday, Oct. 24. Voter registration cards are
available at the Three Rivers Post Office, Three Rivers Library, and other
locations throughout Tulare County.
Online registration is also available at:
Voting from afar-- Absentee ballots will be available
beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25. Tuesday, Nov. 1, is the last day that the
Registrar of Voters Office may receive an absentee ballot request by mail.
Applications for absentee ballots are also enclosed in the
sample ballot that all voters should have received in the mail last week.
routed by Eagles
FOOTBALL— At the end of the first quarter and trailing
35-0, the Woodlake Tigers (0-2, 1-4) knew they were in for a tough night
against the undefeated Immanuel Eagles. In the third quarter, Ryan Baker’s
only interception of the game was returned for a 55-yard touchdown.
Immanuel’s final score in the game came in the fourth
quarter on a blocked punt for a touchdown. It was one of those nights
of futility when nothing worked for the Tigers and the game ended in a
Brian Costa, Tigers head coach, knew going into this season
that these first three league games would be a difficult stretch in the
schedule. Back-to-back blowouts against the likes of Dinuba (ranked fourth
in Division III) and Immanuel (ranked second in Division IV) further underscore
the need for some league changes that are scheduled to take effect in
This week, the Tigers travel to play a physical Coalinga
team (ranked third in Division IV). For these Tigers, who against Strathmore
did show they are capable of playing better, that’s like jumping
from the frying pan into the fire.
But like Woodlake’s teams of yesteryear, there is no
quit in this team and still time to salvage a successful season. After
Coalinga, the Tigers face archrival Lindsay in the annual homecoming game
(Oct. 21) and that match-up could be the turning point in what so far
has been a roller coast ride of a season.
TENNIS— The Lady Tigers struggled in some key matches
vs. Exeter this week but still managed to salvage some respect in a 6-3
loss to the Monarchs. Claudia Diaz, the Tiger’s No. 2 player, lost
a nail-biter in three games, giving Exeter the advantage.
The Tigers won both the No. 4 singles match and the No. 2
doubles match. The loss dropped the Lady Tigers record to 7-4 in league
play but the team still has a chance at third place.
VOLLEYBALL— The Exeter Monarchs came to Woodlake on
Tuesday and showed why they are undefeated in ESL play by beating the
Lady Tigers in volleyball, 3-0. Woodlake managed only as many as 12 points
in one of the games against the Monarchs, led by senior outside hitter
Tiffany Marinos of Three Rivers.
The loss dropped Woodlake to 6-2 in league play but they
still they retain a solid grip on third place. Immanuel is currently in
second place but is not expected to deny the Monarchs from keeping intact
their current run of consecutive league titles.
in Three Rivers a century ago
The first installment of this article, “The Bartons,”
was published in the October 7 issue. This segment was written by Juanita
Tolle, who lived on the ranch with her mother and grandparents from the
age of three months until she was 12.
My grandfather, James H. Pierce, was an oil company superintendent
in Coalinga. In 1910, he and his wife, Julia, made a vacation trip to
They traveled to Lemon Cove by train, then made the trip
up the North Fork road by horse-drawn stage. The stage stopped at the
Mont Barton ranch for lunch. The North Fork road passed directly in front
of the ranch house.
(The front of the ranch house faces the river and the North
Fork road used to pass within 30 feet of the front door. In 1892, the
roadway was moved downslope from the house and closer to the river. As
buggies gave way to cars, and cars began to travel faster, this curvy
section of road — known as Pierce’s Corner — became
notorious for traffic accidents. The road was rerouted in the 1980s and
today crosses the ranch behind the house.)
James and Julia fell in love with the ranch and the area.
Due to the untimely death on Mont Barton, the Barton family was in the
mood to sell, so a deal was made. A deed was recorded June 13, 1911, which
transferred the property from Milton M. Barton, et al., to James Henry
In the years prior to the formation of the National Park
Service in 1916, the U.S. Cavalry came each summer to supervise Sequoia
National Park. The troops rode up the North Fork road right in front of
the ranch house.
The Hengst family’s cattle were also driven past the
ranch house each year on their way to summer forage in the high country.
Imagine the dust, bellowing cattle, and shouting cowboys.
Redwood logs that had washed downriver in the flood of 1867
provided ample wood for picket fences that demarcated much of the ranch
property. Some sections of this fence remain today.
My grandparents used kerosene lamps to light the house. They
cooked on a woodstove — inside in the winter and outside under the
grape arbor in the summer.
Many a delicious meal was created and served from this woodstove,
which is still in the house today along with a supplementary electric
The other heat source in the house was the fireplace in the
living room. The fireplace had a granite slab as a hearth, a brick-and-mortar
chimney, and cast-iron owl andirons to hold the logs.
At bedtime, the family carried hot flatirons or heated rocks
wrapped in newspaper to warm their beds in the cold bedrooms. The remainder
of the nightly fire was covered with ashes to provide hot coals to start
the next morning’s fire.
The foundation of the house includes large flat granite rocks
plus occasional sturdy redwood posts to share the burden of weight. A
second story was added to the house for more bedroom space, but studs
for support were not included.
The upper rooms and porch shake a bit, which adds to the
charm of the house.
The kitchen floor creaks and slants, but holds an oak table
that can be extended to seat 20 people. Over the years, other floors and
doors have sagged and have been shored up by helpful neighbors.
The original paint on the house was maroon with green trim,
but little evidence of this remains today. The screened-porch doors were
added in 1915 and have been patched with various bits of board over the
The plan for domestic water was well thought out. A good
spring a half mile up the North Fork road was boxed with redwood and a
small iron pipe was laid in the Brundage ditch to keep the spring water
cool in the summer and safe from freezing in the winter.
There was another spring below the house enclosed by granite
boulders that later became a water supply for the house. The Pierces named
their property Rock Spring Ranch.
Mont Barton had built a flume to the washing area to run
a waterwheel that operated a washing machine.
We had a three-hole outhouse outside the fence beyond the
big walnut tree, complete with spiders and the Montgomery Ward catalog.
The ranch house had an inside bathroom with a claw-foot bathtub.
We had no hot water heater so water was heated on the stove.
A large copper kettle made in Pennsylvania was left behind
by the Barton family. Grandmother Pierce used it to scald butchered hogs,
made soap in it during World War I, and boiled clothes in it. The kettle
was later professionally polished and has been a treasure in our family.
We had a telephone on the back porch. To make a call, we
cranked the phone to reach the local operator, who was Rena (Alles) Ogilvie
during my childhood. Rena would either connect the caller with the person
they were calling or, in many cases, could tell you where they were: “She’s
up visiting the Petersons” or “They went to town this morning,”
With the ranch, the Pierces inherited fruit orchards that
included several acres of apple varieties, citrus, olives, peaches, plums,
apricots, pears, nectarines, quince, persimmons, and pomegranates. In
the fall, Jim and Julia stayed busy selling apples and cider along with
the Savages, Taylors, and Mehrtens.
A large walnut tree outside the kitchen and an almond tree
provided annual crops of tasty nuts. As the apple orchards diminished,
the orange and grapefruit harvest became the main income.
Jim and Julia Pierce developed a beautiful flower garden
of roses, irises, Matilja poppies, zinnias, jasmine, and many other favorites.
At one time, Julia had 75 different varieties of iris in her garden. When
the irises were in bloom, her garden would be advertised in the Visalia
newspaper as a place to visit.
An earth cellar was built under the ranch house. In the winter,
melons, cabbages, apples, and squash were stored there. Grandmother Pierce
canned dozens of jars of canned fruit during the summer that were stored
on the cellar shelves and provided tasty desserts during the winter.
The family had a Jersey cow named “Old Pet,”
who produced pans of whole milk that were cooled in the cellar. This milk
provided rich cream for churning butter, milk to drink, and to make ice
cream in the summer.
To make the ice cream, the family drove their wagon six miles
to the Hammond power house to secure 100 pounds of block ice. The ice
was wrapped in newspaper and made a cool seat on the ride home.
To be continued...