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In the News - Friday, November 2, 2012




Disney star filming Sequoia movie

  The cast and crew of a new movie starring Aly Michalka have been shooting for a week now in Sequoia National Park and Balch Park and have some impressive action and scenery already in the can. Though still only a working title — according to crew members, the film will have “Sequoia” in the name — the intriguing script will showcase Sequoia National Park and feature the coming of age of Alyson Renae Michalka.
   Michalka, a former teen heartthrob who catapulted to fame in the role of Keeley Teslow in the Disney Channel original series Phil of the Future, now possesses a more mature beauty at 23. Aly, as she is affectionately known to the legion of devoted fans who have been following her eight-year film and TV career, seems well suited for the role of “Reilly,” and this venture just might be the film that sets the stage for adult stardom.
   In the Sequoia movie, Aly portrays Reilly, a tragic adolescent who, like so many of us, has fond memories of family camping trips in Sequoia National Park. After being diagnosed with cancer, she returns to her childhood digs to contemplate her escape from tragedy and her alienated Southern California lifestyle. At Hanging Rock off the Moro Rock Road, Reilly has a brush with suicide, snuggles at sunset with her main squeeze, “Ogden,” played by Dustin   Milligan, and struggles with family members who try to intervene.
   There is intense drama set amidst some of the most unique scenery in the world.
  “The scenery with the big trees is unbelievable,” said Aly after shooting a scene where she  inspects a giant sequoia that only an instant ago came crashing to the earth. “This place is totally nature.”
   The exciting tree fall scene that was filmed last Tuesday, in addition to Reilly and Ogden, includes several locals who appeared as extras playing awe-struck tourists rushing to see the fallen giant sequoia. Look for some familiar faces among all the extras when the movie makes its debut in 2013.
   The next few weeks will be spent shooting on locations in Three Rivers and on the Mineral King Road with the final scenes being shot in Santa Clarita. At Santa Clarita, the set work and filming wrap-up can be done a little closer to home, just 30 miles from Hollywood and Los Angeles where the movie’s producers, actors, and crew are based.
   Aly Michalka was born in Torrance on March 25, 1989, grew up in Seattle, and later moved back to Southern California. In 2004, Aly made her acting debut in Phil of the Future. She also starred the next two years in the Disney Channel original movies Now You See It and Cow Belles in which she appears with her younger sister, Amanda.
   With her sister, Amanda, Aly has also performed in the musical duo 78violet and they have three CDs to their credit. She has played piano for 18 years and started playing guitar at age 13.
   The script of the Sequoia movie is a compelling one and has a surprise ending in light of what’s typical for the genre. If you are hoping for the big reveal, you’ll just have to wait and see the movie.

Search scaled back for missing backpacker

  Six ground teams looking for Larry Conn, a lawyer from Pacific Palisades, returned to the frontcountry on Tuesday, Oct. 30, with no clues as to the whereabouts of the hiker who has disappeared without a trace. Two helicopters continued operations until a weather change suspended the aerial search on November 1. Conn, 53, was last seen Friday, Oct. 19, at the Taboose Creek trailhead in Inyo National Forest. He reportedly had food for five days of travel.

  The trailhead is a point of entry to the John Muir Wilderness and several popular peaks for climbers in Kings Canyon National Park. Conn is an experienced all-season backpacker who was due to return from his recent outing on Monday, Oct. 22, but was caught in the fast-moving snowstorm that blew through the region late Sunday and into Monday.
   Helicopters will resume the search once the cloud cover from the most recent storm system has passed. Conn has a dark gray and blue pack and is using a red tent with a yellowish/tan rain fly.
   Anyone who might have seen Conn, his campsite, or any activity of a hiker in the Taboose region (footprints in snow, recent campfire, gear, etc.) are asked to call the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks dispatch at (559) 565-3195.

Authors’ event spotlights local writers and their recent works

By Holly Gallo

  The Three Rivers Historical Society will host nine authors with local ties for a reception and book-signing on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 3 to 7 p.m. The authors will read selections from their books from 4 to 6 p.m.
   Former Three Rivers resident and frequent Commonwealth contributor Jay O’Connell will be among the literary foray, featuring his most recent book Train Robber’s Daughter: The Melodramatic Life of Eva Evans: 1876-1970. He has also penned Co-Operative Dreams: A History of the Kaweah Colony and co-authored A Strength Born of Giants: The Life and Times of Dr. Forest Grunigen. Currently, he lives in the Los Angeles area where he is a television production manager for such shows as The Big Bang Theory and 2 Broke Girls.
   William Haxton of Three Rivers will present Voices Beneath the Waves, one of numerous compilations of his poetry and prose. His more than 37 years of eloquence includes published magazine articles, episodes of the public radio program This Day in America, and The Report to the United States Congress on the condition of education in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
   Dalan Smith’s first publication of his writing career is Bill and I: Building William Shatner’s Belle Reve Ranch. Smith, who resides in Three Rivers is originally from Idaho and followed his educational background in business with 50 years of self-employment. Most recently, with Bill and I, his efforts have been dedicated to his writing career.
   Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch co-authored City of Dark Magic under their pseudonym Magnus Flyte. Howrey, author of The Cranes Dance and Blind Sight, is a former dancer and winner of an Ovation Award. Lynch of Three Rivers is a former correspondent for W Magazine and a television writer. City of Dark Magic, published by Penguin Books, is the duo’s first cooperative publication and will be released November 27.
   Posit Poems: A 50-Year Collection from an Inquisitive Heart is the work of eight-year Three Rivers resident Betty A. Luceigh, PhD. Luceigh is a retired UCLA award-winning senior lecturer of Organic Chemistry as well as a published poet and essayist. Posit Poems will be a more personal collection of the writer’s lyrical explorations.
   Louise Jackson will be presenting her latest work, The Visalia Electric Railroad: Stories of the Early Years. The Exeter-born teacher, artist, and business manager is a well-versed historian of the Sierra Nevada past and has given historical talks at the Tulare County Museum’s Visalia Electric Railroad caboose exhibit.
   Robert Burke’s Through the Redwood Curtain is a historical fiction that explores the history and conflicts of California’s North Coast in the 1970s. Burke, a local history instructor, was named Visalia Unified School District’s Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2008 and the San Joaquin Valley Council’s Secondary Social Science Teacher of the Year in 2011. He is a graduate of Humboldt State on California’s North Coast.
   Sequoia Natural History Association executive director Mark Tilchen will introduce Blame it on Anna, a personal rendition of his late mother’s own writings about a difficult life. Tilchen previously published Floods of the Kaweah, about the history of the Terminus Dam and was the project coordinator and editor of To Find the Biggest Tree.

Champs on and off the tennis court

By Holly Gallo

  Though they’ve only been playing for three years, Selena Harrison and Dalila Vasquez have finished their final year as members of the Woodlake High School tennis team by qualifying for two Valley Individuals and one Area Individuals as a doubles team.
   The girls won their first two round matches against Dinuba and Tulare Union in the Area Tournament, advancing them to the Valley qualifying match against Sanger’s number-two seeded team, Sanchez/Honore.
  “My girls played great tennis during the match,” Coach Mike Judson said. “They even had a match point in the third set.”
   The final score of the match was 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, and Selena and Dalila closed their senior season with a doubles record of 24-2.
   Selena and Dalila have together already cinched the East Sequoia League Doubles Championship on October 19, which was the highlight of their season.
  “It’s a big accomplishment,” Selena said. “As sophomores, Dalila and I finished third. Last year, we were second. It felt good to accomplish what we’ve been trying to get for three years now.”
   As singles players, Selena and Dalila are first and second on the team, respectively. Their work with their teammates has helped to secure Woodlake’s solid record of 16-6 with a league record of 11-3, putting Woodlake in 2nd place.
  “Athletes have good skills and demonstrate good sportsmanship,” Selena said. “Dalila and I have shown that.”
   Selena, who lives in Three Rivers, is as much a scholar as an athlete. She is the ASB president and ranks in the top 10 of her class. She plans on going to UC Davis to study veterinary sciences and thinks that she will continue to play tennis as a club activity.
   Dalila’s tennis expertise may find a more prominent role in her academic future, as a coach from College of the Sequoias has already asked her to consider playing for the college as a student after she graduates from Woodlake.
   While at this point Dalila is undecided, the soccer player, swimmer, and clarinet-playing vice president of the band council is giving the opportunity some thought.
   Though Dalila’s success this season is irrevocable, her talents came as a bit of a surprise to both her and her coach. Judson said that Dalila was so intimidated by her first match three years ago that she didn’t even want to come out to the courts.
  “I was like, why am I here?” Dalila remembers. “I don’t know anything!”
Dalila quickly honed her talent, however, and she skyrocketed from being at the bottom of the junior varsity team to the fourth position by the middle of her first season.
   On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Woodlake competed in the Division IV quarterfinals and beat Selma 5-4. The following Thursday Woodlake lost to Taft, who went on to win the Division IV Valley Championship after beating Liberty Madera Ranchos 5-4.

Tigers football QB assists with team’s winning ways

By Holly Gallo

  As they prepare for the last league game of the season, Woodlake High’s football team is on the road to victory with the help of starting quarterback Philip Woods. Woods has seven touchdowns — six passing, one rushing — on his resume this season, along with six years of football experience.
   Woods, who has lived in Three Rivers since 2001 with his parents Wendy and Eric and younger brother, Thomas, is a natural athlete. He’s been the starting quarterback since his first football season in sixth grade.
   Indeed, those years of shaping his talent may pay off with a college scholarship. While he reports that he’s received a few offers from out-of-state schools, “Cal Poly may want me, and that’s where I would want to go.”
   For the remaining time at Woodlake High School, however, Woods is focused on leading the Tigers to a winning season. As the team captain, Woods says that he has to be “the role model,” and “pick the team up and motivate them.”
   The responsibility isn’t too big a burden for him, he says, because he’s “gotten used to it over the years.”
  “I just like going out and playing on Friday nights,” Woods said, recalling his favorite part about playing football. “It’s fun playing under the lights.”
   Though Woodlake doesn’t have any Friday night lights of their own for the time being, Woods said that the lack of a home field hasn’t been a deterrent to his team’s success. On the contrary, “it motivates us to win more games.” His confidence in the team extends to the upcoming playoffs as well, and he knows that his team will “do pretty good.”
   The main reason for his confidence, he said, is the group of athletes that comprise the championship team this year.
  “Some of our guys this year played together in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades,” he said. “Our seniors and juniors are back together again.”
   After losing to Exeter on August 31, the Tigers embarked on a four-game winning streak beating Farmersville 18-12, Parlier 28-21, Orosi 28-24, and Strathmore 31-28. Woodlake then lost to Corcoran and Lindsay (26-25 and 31-8) and beat Sierra Pacific 26-6 on October 26. The team is 6-3 overall and 2-2 in league.
   The Tigers will travel to Granite Hills (Porterville) tonight. Granite Hills is 1-7 overall and 1-2 in league.

California sets new record for voting registration

  A record number of Californians have registered to vote in the November 6 election, with a new online registration system helping to create a surge of applications in recent weeks.
   As of Wednesday, counties have reported a record 18.14 million people are registered to vote, eclipsing the previous record of 17.33 million registrants, set in February 2009.
   The numbers will go up as some counties this week finish counting new registrants, according to Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., which is analyzing the numbers.
   The deadline to register to vote was October 22. In Tulare County, the Elections Office was open until midnight on that day.
   For the June 2012 primary, there were 139,946 active voters in Tulare County. Total registration for Tulare County for the General Election next week will be 145,000 voters.
   On October 22 alone, the Elections Office received more than 650 registration cards, and half of those were received after normal business hours but before midnight.
   In Three Rivers, local parents took on the task of ensuring everyone is registered to vote.  The school’s Eagle Booster Club registered people during Back-to-School Night. The Our Place Playground preschool parents held a voting drive last week at Village Shopping Center.   These efforts garnered about 25 new voters who will be heading to the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
   The polling site for Three Rivers voters is the Memorial Building.



Live! In the Mountains boasts award-winning lineup

By Bill Haxton

  “Live! In the Mountains,” the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute’s winter entertainment series, has recently confirmed concert dates for the 2011 Davidson Laureate, the 2011 Grand Prize winner at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, the 2007 Grand Prize winner of the Naumberg Cello Competition, as well as a surprise booking for four-time primetime Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Mike Reiss of The Simpsons television series, who will add the spoken word to this season’s offering.
   While the competitions mentioned above may be new to most of us, they are some of the most prestigious and coveted accomplishments in the world of classical music. Musicians from all over the world compete from all of the world’s great conservatories — London, Juilliard, Curtis, Colburn — and the winners gain immediate international recognition.
   Opening Night, Saturday, Nov. 24, kicks off with the 2011 Davidson Laureate, Simone Porter. Simone is no stranger to Three Rivers. However, the past two years under the tutelage of master teacher Robert Lipsett has dramatically accelerated her growth as a virtuoso violinist.
   A few weeks ago at Royce Hall in Los Angeles, she performed Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1, a piece so difficult and daunting, with an extended section of double harmonics in the last movement, that few violinists of any age even attempt it. Simone brought the audience immediately to its feet.
   The annual Holiday Concert occurs Saturday evening, Dec. 15, when the popular COS Chamber Singers under the direction of Jeff Seaward return for their energetic and entertaining mix of Renaissance madrigals and contemporary carols.
   On Saturday, Jan. 26, The Simpsons writer and producer Mike Reiss (who by the way is a certifiable comedic genius even Jonathan Swift would admire) will present a funny yet informative glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in the roiling creativity of getting an episode ready to air.
   One of the finest quartets in North America performs on Saturday, Feb. 23. The Calidore Quartet won grand prizes at the Fischoff Competition and the Coleman and Chesapeake International Competition, then garnered two more major prizes at international competitions in Germany. The Calidore Quartet features violinists Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry, and cellist Estelle Choi.
   In their playing, Calidore combines precision and passion to near perfection with a narrative emotional line that is mesmerizing. They have performed with Joshua Bell, the Tokyo String Quartet, and the inimitable Menachem Pressler, famed pianist for the Beaux Arts Trio.
   March 16 brings to Three Rivers the third annual Best of Colburn concert. Over the past couple of years, the Colburn Conservatory has pulled even with, and some believe has surpassed, Juilliard.
   Colburn proteges over that time have won two Klein Competitions, a Fischoff Grand Prize, a top four finish at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Russia, won the Jacques Lancelot International Clarinet Competition, and have produced a Davidson Laureate. All but one of these extraordinary young musicians had performed in Three Rivers prior to their competition triumphs.
   This year’s Best of Colburn concert will showcase the next class of tomorrow’s rising stars.
   The season closes on Saturday, April 6, with one of the world’s true masters on cello. Winner of more competitions that can be listed here, in 2008, David Requiro won the Naumberg Prize for cello, which the New York Times calls “the most prestigious competition of them all.”
   David has soloed with the Tokyo Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., the Seattle Symphony, and many others across North America. When he performs, his cello becomes an extension of his body, producing an agile, fully shaped, honeyed tone that emerges from the strings as if it were always there waiting for that perfectly nuanced bow to liberate it.
   All concerts will be performed at the Community Presbyterian Church, beginning at 7 p.m. After each concert this year, the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute will host a free reception.
   Tickets are now available at Chumps for $12 per concert or $60 for season tickets to all six performances.
   Continuing last year’s policy, all children and students are admitted free, as is the adult accompanying the child.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
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