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In the News - Friday, OCTOBER 14, 2005

Snow forecast

in mountains

   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 Rivers merchants.
   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.

Visalia rancher

turns state legislator
Tulare County benefits

from local representation

   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.

   “We 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.

  “It 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.

  “In 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.

  “Because 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,” Maze said.
   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.

  “That 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.

   “Water 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 stolen.

  “I’ve 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.

  “If 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, 740-4355.

Paving the way

for local roadwork

   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.

  “I 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.

  “The 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.

  “Our 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

November’s special election

   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 are:
   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 budget cuts.

  “We 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.

  “When 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.

  Proposition 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:

   https://ovr.ss.ca.gov/ votereg/OnlineVoterReg
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.

WHS sports:

Tigers 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 rout, 61-0.
   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 2006.
   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.

Roadside attractions

BARTON/PIERCE HOUSE:

Settling in Three Rivers a century ago


Part Two

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.


THE PIERCES
   My grandfather, James H. Pierce, was an oil company superintendent in Coalinga. In 1910, he and his wife, Julia, made a vacation trip to Giant Forest.
   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 Pierce.
   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 stove.
   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 years.
   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,” etc.
   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...

 
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