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  In the News - Friday, OCTOBER 8, 2004

Tragedy on the fireline

Arrowhead Hotshots crewmember

killed during prescribed burn

The National Park Service is heartbroken over this loss.

--Superintendent Dick Martin,

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

   Flags were at half-staff this week at fire stations and throughout the National Park System, while Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks personnel wore black bands on their badges in remembrance of Daniel Holmes.
   Dan was a member of the Park Service family who died in the line of duty on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004. It is the first firefighter fatality in the parks’ history.
   Dan, 26, was a member of the elite Arrowhead Hotshots, which are based in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. The team fights wildland fires throughout the West, but were at the park working the Grant West Prescribed Fire when the accident happened.
   The Grant West fire was ignited Tuesday, Sept. 28, and had burned four acres of a planned 60. Dan was killed about 1 p.m. on Saturday when the burning top of a dead 115-foot-high white fir tree broke off and struck him in the head as he and co-workers were preparing to cut down the snag with a chainsaw.
   It is reported that about 20 firefighters witnessed the accident, and crewmembers immediately moved Dan to a safe location. First aid was administered and the park ambulance was summoned.
Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and Dan never regained consciousness. He died in the ambulance while en route to the LifeFlight helicopter-landing zone for transport to a Fresno hospital.
   Dan was pronounced dead by the helicopter-ambulance’s medical personnel at about 2 p.m.
  As a result of Dan’s death, ignitions have been halted on the Grant West burn. It is being manned by U.S. Forest Service crews as all staff assigned to the fire at the time of the accident have been released.
   A three-member investigation team — headed by Jim Loach, associate regional director of the National Park Service’s Midwest Region — has been assigned to the incident by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The purpose of the “Serious Accident Investigation Team” is to determine the circumstances that caused Dan’s death and to learn what can be done to prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future.
   The team’s functions include investigation, safety evaluation, and documentation. Throughout the week, the team has been conducting interviews with personnel, some of whom have also been meeting with critical-incident counselors for stress debriefing as a result of being on the scene of the accident.
   The team will produce three reports. The 24-hour report and 72-hour report have been issued; the final report is pending.
Arrowhead Hotshots
   The Arrowhead Interagency Hotshot Crew has been in existence since 1981. Their primary duty is the suppression of wildland fires throughout the U.S. and Canada.
   The job is demanding and the crew works under extremely hazardous conditions for extended periods. They are described as the best of the best firefighters and are routinely assigned the most difficult and hazardous tasks.
   They are required to be in peak physical condition. A typical work shift is 16 hours, although working for 32 hours straight often occurs.
   During fire season, a Hotshot crew is together 24/7; eating, sleeping, traveling, and working as a unit. Under these conditions, it is easy to understand the camaraderie that exists between the crewmembers and the devastating effect on all when one suffers an untimely death.

Daniel Holmes

1978 ~ 2004
Daniel Holmes, an Arrowhead Hotshot crewmember based in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park, died Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004, in Grant Grove after injuries sustained during a prescribed-fire operation. He was 26.
   A funeral service was held yesterday (Thursday, Oct. 7) in Rochester, N.H. The entire Arrowhead Hotshot crew was in attendance, as were many other National Park Service employees.
   Dan was born Jan. 16, 1978, in Springfield, Mass., to Raymond E. Holmes Jr. and Delina J. Burke. At a young age, Dan moved with his mother and brother to Rochester, N.H., where he was raised and educated, graduating from Spaulding High School in 1996.
   Dan was an avid athlete, playing Babe Ruth baseball and, later, varsity hockey and football in high school. His love of athletics evolved to a love of the outdoors through his pursuits of snowboarding, mountaineering, and climbing.
   Dan turned his passion into a career after he graduated from Johnson State College with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.
   Dan moved west and began his career with the National Park Service at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. He served as a backcountry ranger there, then on trail crews, and finally as a wildland firefighter.
   His off-season home was in Bellingham, Wash. In 2003, he was selected as a member of the National Park Service’s Arrowhead Hotshots, an elite interagency firefighting team, and was nearing completion of his first season.
   Dan was with his crew working on the Grant West Prescribed Fire in Grant Grove, where the team is based, when the top of a dead tree broke off and fell on him. He never regained consciousness.
   Dan is survived by his mother, Delina J. Burke of Rochester, N.H.; his father, Raymond E. Homes Jr. of Westville, Mass.; his brother, Matthew Holmes, of Tampa, Fla.; and his girlfriend, Jules Sautter, of Bellingham, Wash.
   Donations in Dan’s memory may be made to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation via mail (2049 Airport Way; Boise, ID 83705) or online at (click on “Donations” on the menu on the left, then click on “Monetary Donations” on the left for directions on how to donate to the Daniel Holmes Memorial Fund).
   A memorial service may be held in California for Dan. Details will be announced as they become available.

TRUS appoints board members

   On Wednesday, Oct. 6, at the monthly meeting of the Three Rivers Union School board, trustees selected Chantel Medeiros-Horton and C. Kristina Roper Graber to fill two vacancies on the TRUS board of trustees as two terms expire at the end of this year. The vacancies were created when no candidates filed to run in the upcoming November election.
   Moises Garza, board president, said that trustees had already reviewed the resumes of the five applicants and that, in addition, to Medeiros-Horton and Roper Graber, the field of five also included Michael Perez, Carl E. Pitts, and Richard Blakemore. The candidates were present at Wednesday’s meeting with the exception of Blakemore.
   Garza explained that the selection process would include three steps. The first would include a brief statement by each applicant, followed by questions from the audience, and then written questions from board members.
   After the questioning was concluded, the five trustees were to vote for two, and Garza said each candidate’s name. Medeiros-Horton received five votes, Roper Graber received three, and Perez received the other two votes.
   Medeiros-Horton, a CSET employee with an education background, said she has experience as a grant writer and can always find a way to get the job done.
   Roper Graber, who teaches anthropology courses at Fresno State, said she would like to see more emphasis on science and scientific thinking at the school.
   In other business, the board approved a resolution to hire a part-time transportation/maintenance employee. Sue Sherwood, superintendent, said the money that is saved by not hiring a full-time person could be used to reimburse other district employees for some of the money that has been deducted from paychecks since July to pay for health insurance.
   The next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 10. Newly elected trustees will begin their four-year terms of office at the December meeting.

Flu shots scarce in Kaweah Country

   On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Health and Human Services Agency of Tulare County announced they are scheduling 13 senior flu shot clinics even though this season’s vaccines are expected to be in short supply.
   The Woodlake clinic is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 5. The Three Rivers clinic will be held Wednesday, Nov. 10.
   Health officials said an interruption in the flu vaccine supply was caused when British health authorities stopped flu shot shipments and suspended the license of the Oxford-based Chiron Corporation.

  “We’re waiting to see what the state issues as a directive relative to the Chiron issue,” said Pat Dicken, deputy director of Tulare County Clinical Services. “We were able to purchase vaccine from another supplier and are moving forward with our planned vaccination clinics, but that schedule may change as more information becomes available.”
   Especially in Three Rivers, seniors and other high-risk individuals are advised not to miss the county-sponsored clinic. That’s because Art Molina, M.D., who will close his office at the end of the month, will not be getting any vaccine.
   Family HealthCare Network, the other local medical provider, is uncertain if and when they will receive any supplies. According to a Family HealthCare Network spokesperson, if FHCN does find a supplier, it might be December before the flu shots are available.
   Those at highest risk for complications from influenza should receive annual flu inoculations. The following are those who will be given priority for flu shots: all children ages six to 23 months; adults ages 65 years and older; persons ages two to 64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions; all women who will be pregnant during the influenza season; residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities; children ages six months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy; healthcare workers involved in direct patient care; and out-of-home caregivers with household contacts of children ages six months and younger.
   For more information, call the county Health and Human Services Agency toll-free at 1-800-834-7121.

Annual Carnival set for Halloween eve

   Eagle Booster Club (EBC) members and numerous volunteers are busy finalizing plans and preparations for this year’s Halloween Carnival, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 30, from 4 to 8 p.m., on the upper field of Three Rivers School. EBC members are really excited to announce that this year’s Carnival will include a Haunted House, the Jail Booth, and an Obstacle Course, as well as the return of many of the traditional favorites like the Cake Walk, Bounce House, Face Painting, cotton candy, and clowns selling balloons.
   Donations for the Raffle and Pick-a-Prize are still being accepted. Prizes may be dropped at the TRUS office, Valley Oak Credit Union, Silver Spur, or Cutting Room. This year’s raffle prizes include a two-night stay at Asilomar Resort in Pacific Grove, a $100 gift card for the Visalia Mall, a five-CD stereo sound system, tickets to Magic Mountain, two 20-inch bicycles, a Nintendo GameCube system, and much more.
   Raffle tickets are $2 each and may be purchased in advance at the following Three Rivers businesses: Valley Oak Credit Union, Silver Spur, and Cutting Room. Raffle tickets are also available at the school office and from any TRUS student.
   Some great donations for this year’s Pick-a-Prize have been received. Donations include: complimentary passes to Blackbeards in Fresno; Fresno Zoo Family Pak Pass; White Water Adventures class 3 river trip; Lake Kaweah patio boat rental; lodging certificates for Wuksachi Lodge, Lake Elowin, Sierra Lodge, Gateway Lodge, Kaweah Park Resort, and Plantation Bed and Breakfast; Visalia Fox Theater tickets; Red Carpet Car Wash tickets; Brewbaker’s dinner certificate; The Enchanted Playhouse season tickets; and much, much more.
   The TRUS Class of 2005 will be serving the annual Eighth-Grade Dinner fundraiser in the school cafeteria. This year’s theme will be Island Tropical. Menu items include: Barbecued Mango Chicken Breast, Coconut Jasmine Rice, Kula Green Salad, Sautéed Maui Vegetables, Hawaiian Rolls, Tommy Bahama Iced Tea, Kona Coffee, and for dessert, Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting topped with toasted coconut.
   Cost for dinner will be $7.50 for adults and $5 for all TRUS students and children. A vegetarian menu will be available. Additionally, a beverage-and-dessert-only option will be available for $2.50.
   It is still not too late to become a member of the Eagle Booster Club. An annual membership is only $5 per person.
   If you are interested in becoming an EBC member, just stop by the TRUS office to sign up. Remember, all monies raised by the EBC stay right here in Three Rivers to benefit the TRUS students and staff.
   For more information about the EBC or the upcoming carnival, call Wendy Woods, 561-4715, or Beth Jones, 561-3250.

3R kids learn rocket science… really

by Paul Tidwell

   Three Rivers residents Philip and Colin Tidwell witnessed history in the making on Monday morning (October 4) when they watched SpaceShipOne soar into the heavens and the history books over the Mojave Desert.
   After spending Sunday night camping in the desert, they joined with thousands of other spectators before dawn on Monday to watch the White Knight turbojet carry aloft the spacecraft that was released at 35,000 feet.
   When the rocket engine ignited far overhead, they screamed a loud “Hooray!” as the contrail showed the rocket rising to a record-setting 377,591 feet. After both craft landed safely, the boys were allowed to enter the VIP area, getting a closeup view of the spacecraft and spending time with the craft’s pilot and crew.
   When the boys entered the hangar, they were asked by members of the press what they thought was most memorable about the experience. Colin answered that he thought the double sonic-boom when the craft re-entered the atmosphere at three times the speed of sound was the biggest highlight.
   Philip said that the low pass that the White Knight and other support aircraft made only feet above the runway as they celebrated the success of the flight was an exciting moment.
   Both boys will have a lifetime of memories and stories to tell their own children someday about how they were present at the moment that civilian space flight began.
   Philip is a fifth-grader attending the Eleanor Roosevelt Learning Center; Colin attends first grade at Three Rivers Union School.

Emperors tame Tigers, 45-3

By John Elliott

   On Friday, Oct. 1, the Woodlake Tigers (0-4) reached what their fans and coaches hope will be the low point of a very difficult season. After converting a field goal on the opening drive at Dinuba to take a 3-0 lead, very little went right for the visiting Tigers the rest of the night.
   One thing that did go right was an impressive stop by the defense on the Emperor’s very first series. But following Dinuba’s punt, Woodlake’s offense went three plays and out.
   Dinuba (4-0) still trailed 3-0 at the start of the second quarter but knew it was only a matter of time until they untracked their powerful offense. On a fourth down play from the Tiger 32-yard line, the Emperor QB threw a 29-yard pass for a first-and-goal at the three-yard line.
   Two plays later, Abraham del Toro, Emperor running back, dove in from two yards out for the first of six touchdowns. The Dinuba defense also forced Woodlake into two safeties and scored one of the TDs after a fumbled punt.
   The statistics were even more lopsided than the final score. Dinuba’s offense racked up 240 yards rushing and 195 more yards through the air. Woodlake’s offense was held to less than 100 total yards.
   Coach Costa, frustrated by his team’s fourth consecutive loss, said he expected his young team to struggle.

  “In one game, we play well for one quarter; in another we’re in a position to win at halftime,” Costa said. “We have yet to play anybody for all four quarters.”
   Costa still believes his young team will come together and, when they do, they will get back to winning ways. Now that the East Sequoia League schedule has begun, its evident that Woodlake will have play much better just to compete with the teams that Costa calls the ESL “bruisers” — Immanuel and Coalinga. But after Immanuel looked very beatable in a lopsided loss to Orosi last week there is new hope that Woodlake can win at home tonight vs. Immanuel (2-2).

  “Right now, the ESL has some teams that are headed to the Division III playoffs and some are going to Division IV,” said Craig Baker, Tiger assistant coach. “Our league should really be schools that are more our size like Lindsay, Corcoran, Orosi, Strathmore, and Parlier.”
   But CIF officials anticipated that there would be some disparity in the new league lineups. Because of the realignment, all teams may elect to go to playoffs regardless of season records.

  “I really want to go to the playoffs so our seniors can experience playing in the postseason,” Costa said. “If we can show some steady improvement, then we are in.”
   The junior varsity game featured a defensive struggle with the Tigers (3-1) coming out on top 6-2. Frosh QB John Gomez has show steady improvement and made some critical tackles on defense.

Arts Alliance pursues creative outlets

Calling all artists and supporters of the arts...
   The nonprofit Arts Alliance of Three Rivers is on a mission to explore new possibilities for future events and activities.
   On Saturday, Oct. 16, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., the alliance will host a gathering at the Three Rivers Arts Center to discuss the future of the organization and its role in the community.
   The informal meeting will begin with introductions and an opportunity for participants to share their views, catch up on the latest news of the organization, and provide input and suggestions.   One topic of discussion will be the possibility of expanding the scope of the alliance to encourage membership from all areas of creativity including music, drama, creative writing, and more.
   Other topics will include what types of programs prospective patrons would support in Three Rivers and what the group can do to further ensure that arts programs at Three Rivers School are properly funded.

  “The Arts Alliance will continue producing the Redbud Festival and can be proud of its accomplishments so far, but there is so much more we should be doing as an ‘alliance of art’ in this community,” said Lynne Bunt, Arts Alliance president.
   There is an immediate need for more involvement from the creative community in Three Rivers. The future of the Arts Alliance depends on the willingness of more local artisans to get involved. A little participation from a few more folks will allow the alliance to thrive and better serve the community of Three Rivers.
   For more information, call Lynne Bunt, 786-8654, or email her at

Well-know flutist to take Concert stage

By Bill Haxton

   This Saturday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m., renowned flutist Tracy Harris with the Wyndfall Trio will perform at the 23rd annual Concert on the Grass in Three Rivers. Tracy’s performing and recording experience is too long to recite here, but it must be mentioned that she was selected from a worldwide pool to study with French icon Jean-Pierre Rampal, considered by some to be the best flutist ever.
   Tracy¹s mastery of the flute covers a wide range of tone and style. Her profound sense of melodic line in the slow movements lifts the listener from the cares of the everyday world and transports them to a place of transcendent beauty. In the fast movements, she plays with such vibrant energy, it nearly takes your breath away.
   Wyndfall Trio pianist Svetlana Harris and harpist Wendy Harris-LeBlanc are masterful musicians in their own right, and both will be highlighted at this year’s concert.
   Take Highway 198 through Three Rivers, a quarter mile past We Three Bakery. Turn left on Dinely Drive. Cross the river, bear right after the bridge, then follow the signs.
   The concert starts at 3 p.m., but plan to arrive half an hour early. Also, there is a much-improved shuttle system this year for transporting concert-goers up the driveway. Bring a picnic if you like and a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.

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