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  In the News - Friday, OCTOBER 29, 2004

Local interest will fuel voter turnout

By John Elliott

   On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Kaweah Country voters, who are expected to turn out at more than 70 percent, certainly have some tough choices to make. That’s because on the proposition side of the ballot alone there are four legislative constitutional amendments, 11 initiative constitutional amendments, and one referendum, many of which are worded with pros that sound like cons.
   And if that’s not enough to confuse the average voter, both Three Rivers and Woodlake citizens will decide if additional tax dollars should be allocated to maintain current levels of community services.
   MEASURE Z— In Three Rivers, voters are being asked to approve Measure Z. This measure, if approved, would authorize the Three Rivers Memorial District to levy an annual tax of $26 per parcel. The monies would be used for ongoing operations and maintenance of the Three Rivers Memorial Building.
Board member Bill Tidwell said in a community where its memorial building is the only public-use facility outside of the school, residents can ill afford not to pass Measure Z. It requires two-thirds of the votes to pass and is endorsed by Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, the Lions Club, the Woman’s Club, the Senior League, the Three Rivers Historical Society, and the Three Rivers Arts Alliance.
   MEASURE X— In Woodlake, voters are being asked to raise the sales tax by a half-cent for a period of 10 years. Measure X requires a majority to pass. It would raise the sales tax from 7.25 to 7.75 percent and generate thousands in much needed revenue.
   WOODLAKE HIGH SCHOOL BOARD— In another race that affects both Three Rivers and Woodlake, three candidates are vying for two seats on the Woodlake Union High School district board. Incumbents Kent Owen (Three Rivers) and Wayne Hardcastle (Woodlake) are expected to retain their seats over challenger Mack Lewis, a retired school administrator.
   DISTRICT 1 SUPERVISOR— In the non-partisan race for county supervisor in District 1, Frank “Bud” Pinkham of Exeter will face Allen Ishida of Lindsay. Both of these gentlemen are willing and able to take on the task, but who would be more responsive to the unique needs of Three Rivers?
   Pinkham appears strongest on law enforcement while Ishida wants to put more of the local bed tax to work for Three Rivers. Pinkham has pledged to ensure we keep our county fire protection while Ishida has a good handle on foothills issues in the county’s management plan.
   U.S. SENATE— In the race for Barbara Boxer’s senate seat, there are five candidates on the ballot. It’s predicted that the local favorite, Bill Jones, the Republican challenger, will win most of the valley’s votes, while the incumbent Democratic senator will retain her seat with more votes statewide. But don’t be surprised to hear again from Mr. Jones who has proven himself a capable and diligent public servant.
   U.S. REPRESENTATIVE— Devin Nunes, Republican, is up for re-election as congressman from the largely Republican 21st District. In his first term, he opened doors in Washington, D.C., and turned some heads by remaining true to his Valley roots. Fred Davis is his Democratic opponent.
   CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY— In the race for State Assembly, Republican Bill Maze, the incumbent, is the clear favorite over Democrat Maggie Florez, a Visalia businesswoman. In a district that encompasses some broad interests from the Central Valley east to Bishop, it has taken Maze years of dedicated service to the Bureau of Land Management, as a county supervisor and, most recently, as an assembly member just to identify the priorities of such a far-flung population.
   U.S. PRESIDENT— It is, of course, the race for the presidency that commands the most attention in this election year and will fuel a record turnout in many precincts, including Three Rivers. Incumbent Republican president George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, the Democratic challenger, are vying for the highest office in the land.
   The pollsters, like they did in 2000, are reporting that the race is too close to call.
   What’s really important in this election is that all eligible voters exercise their right to stand up and be counted. So make your voice heard by voting on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
   The polls, which are at the local memorial buildings in Three Rivers, Lemon Cove and Woodlake, are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

BLM meeting postponed

   Last Tuesday’s stormy weather forced the last-minute postponement of the Bureau of Land Management’s seasonal-update meeting scheduled in Three Rivers. No immediate makeup date was announced although plans are in the works for rescheduling.
   Michael Ayers, BLM recreational planner and project manager for the North Fork recreation sites fee demonstration project, said that had he been able to be there, attendees would have heard some impressive numbers relative to the first season of fee collection at Paradise, Advance, and Cherry Falls.
   In recent years, the popular North Fork recreation sites have become partying places for gang members who fired weapons, drank alcohol, used illegal drugs, set fires, and made it impossible for families and other recreational users to safely access the riverside areas. BLM planners proposed the fee program to upgrade services including more law enforcement in the area.
   The fees were collected from April through September. A total of 8,225 people paid the fee. Ayers said approximately 15 percent of visitors paid the $3 fee when no BLM personnel were present.
   Another group of 9,375 people elected not to pay the fee and left the area. The net result was a 35 percent drop in visitation during the same period in 2003.
   Ayers said that the pilot program resulted in less vandalism and tagging, more family visitors, and the collection of an additional $8,000 to help defray $54,472 expenses.

  “The one big negative was there was more trash generated at the sites even though there was a dramatic drop in the number of visitors,” Ayers said.
   The BLM is seeking input on continuing the fee demonstration program. For more information or to ask questions, contact Michael Ayers at the Bakersfield regional office, (661) 391-9711.

Flag football offered

by Recreation Committee

   Never before has the pigskin been thrown in a local recreation program. But now, for the first time, the Three Rivers Union School’s Recreation Committee will offer a flag football program.
The new youth league is open to all third, fourth, and fifth graders. Registration will be held Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m., in the TRUS gym.
   The fee is $20 per child. Participants are required to provide their own rubber cleats.
   Practice and play will be held Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings throughout November.
   For additional information, call Mike LeFave, Recreation Committee board member, 561-4014.

3R to host skate demo

   On Wednesday, the Woodlake High School SK8 Club announced that it had reached agreement with school district officials and the Holiday Inn Express in Three Rivers to host a skateboarding demonstration and safety fair on Saturday, Nov. 13. Funds raised during the afternoon’s activities will be used to help build a skate park facility in Woodlake.

  “The kids did such a great job with an event held last month in Woodlake that we decided to do something similar in Three Rivers,” said Toni Lenz, a candidate for Woodlake’s City Council.
Lenz has been dubbed “Skate Granny” for her role as liaison with city and school district officials. Recently, the city of Woodlake appropriated $25,000 to get the local skate park project rolling. Lenz and the school’s SK8 Club are seeking grants from groups like the Tony Hawk Foundation that provide support for skate parks in communities with a need like Woodlake.
   The purpose of the Three Rivers event is to give more kids and parents the opportunity to check out one of the fastest growing sports in America. Pro skateboarders like Tony Hawk are advocating that skateboarding become an Olympic sport.
   The Three Rivers event is being produced in cooperation with Onshore Surf Shop of Visalia. The Onshore skateboarding team includes Visalian Jesse Paez, one of the top skaters on the West Coast.
   Joining Paez at the Three Rivers event are a team of Woodlake High School skaters who make up the “Vircans,” the premier skate team of the newly organized school club. The Woodlake High SK8 Club is believed to be the first officially sanctioned skate club in a California school.
   There will be live music by Triple Zero, food, and several healthcare companies on-hand to distribute safety information and furnish helmets. Those in attendance who bring skateboards will be permitted to skate on the portable ramps and rails between demo performances.
   The event will be held in the rear parking lot of Holiday Inn Express from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Three Rivers businesses or community members who would like to help or donate raffle prizes may call Toni Lenz, 564-0611.

A Matter of Life:

Dinner will raise money

for lung treatment

   In December 1980, on the night Gwen Roberts was born, her father, Steve, died. Steve Roberts had moved to Three Rivers as a teenager and graduated from Woodlake High in 1976.
   When Gwen was two years old, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. There is no cure for this debilitating disease.
   Gwen and her mom, Donna, carried on. Before Gwen was 10, Donna opened a bookstore in Exeter, but when the adjacent building caught fire, Donna’s dreams again went up in flames.
   Today, Donna lives in Exeter and is the manager at Borders Books in Visalia. Daughter Gwen is holding her own.
   Gwen, who will turn 24 in December, was recently placed on a national donor’s list for a lung transplant. She has just 20 percent of her lung capacity and uses supplemental oxygen.
   Her mom is by her side as she struggles with her health, staggering medical expenses, transportation to Stanford’s medical center, and more.
   Local friends and family members will unite next month to organize a fundraiser to assist Gwen and Donna financially.
   On Sunday, Nov. 7, from 4 to 9 pm, at the Exeter Eagles Lodge on Visalia Road, a spaghetti dinner will be held. There will be live music by Still Water of Three Rivers and others.
   A donation of $10 will purchase a dinner and a raffle ticket.
   To purchase a dinner-dance ticket, to donate a raffle prize, or for more information, call Joelle Morris, 592-1515.


Cardinals edge Tigers, 17-14

By John Elliott

   Last Friday, the Woodlake Tigers (0-7) took a giant step in breaking a current winless streak of bad luck, but typical of their season they found a way to lose. This time, the loss came on the road to the Lindsay Cardinals (3-4), a very beatable East Sequoia League opponent.

  “That was a game we should have and could have won but some key turnovers really killed us,” said Coach Brian Costa. “Anytime you run 80 plays, that’s offensive domination in time of possession.”
   Costa said normally an offense might run 50 plays in an entire game and expect to win. But Woodlake running 30 more plays than the norm vs. Lindsay was indicative of some positives but crucial turnovers proved especially frustrating because they killed long drives.
   The standout player in this ball control offense was Woodlake’s newest weapon, Daniel Tiller. Tiller, who also plays outside linebacker on defense, became eligible for the Lindsay game after transferring from out-of-state and completing 10 practices.
   In his first game as a varsity Tiger, he slashed his way to 139 yards in rushing.

  “We knew he [Tiller] could step right in and help us,” Coach Costa said. “He played local Pop Warner football and for Woodlake as a ninth grader. That was the first time we’ve had a back gain more than 100 yards in a game in quite awhile.”
   Tiger running backs Jose Duran and Tony Mendez also contributed 71 yards and 77 yards, respectively. The offense had 382 total yards easily the best performance of the season.
   Coach Costa knows his young team must play their very best to have a chance this week in the final home game vs. Orosi (5-2). These high-flying Cardinals are currently perched atop the ESL standings and are coached by Woodlake alum Tim Diaz.

  “They have a very talented senior QB Frankie Manquero who likes to roll out, run the option or throw the ball,” Costa said. “The key for us will be how well our guys can contain on the outside.”
   In the JV game, the Tigers broke a consecutive games scoreless drought, raising their record to 4-3. Friday night at Robinson Field is Senior Night, marked by the introduction of seniors and their parents scheduled to take place between games at approximately 7:15 p.m.

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