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In the News - Friday, NOVEMBER 4, 2005


Tree saves driver

from canyon plunge
Kings County prosecutor

cited for drunk driving

   The narrow, curvy roadway above the Salt Creek bridge on Sierra Drive can be treacherous for even the most experienced mountain driver. Driving those S-curves while under the influence of alcohol is just asking for an accident to happen.
   Last Friday evening, shortly after 8 p.m., several neighbors who live in the Deer Canyon Estates neighborhood above the highway reported that they heard a crash down below on the roadway, then a loud scraping that sounded like metal versus rock. But it was so dark along that stretch of highway just above the entrance to Deer Canyon that it was difficult to determine what had happened.
   Within minutes, a local CDF fire engine was on the scene, and a short time later, a CHP officer arrived. What these first responders found was an empty roadway, but evidence that a vehicle had gone over the edge and into the steep canyon.
   Perched some 40 feet below the highway in a buckeye tree was a battered 2002 Ford F-350 pickup. The sole occupant was hung up inside for some time, mere feet from plunging another 150 feet down a sheer cliff.
   The driver, Patrick James Hart, 54, who was returning to his Three Rivers home from Visalia, is also the deputy district attorney of Kings County. He was examined at the scene by medical personnel and determined to not be seriously injured. He declined further treatment.
   According to the CHP accident report, Hart was heading eastbound on Highway 198 when he allowed the vehicle to drift to the south side of the roadway where he struck a rock outcrop. The impact caused the pickup to careen across the roadway and down an embankment.
   The large tree in which Hart landed probably saved his life. He failed a field sobriety test and was then arrested and transported to the CHP office in Visalia to have a blood sample taken.
Ken Travis, a CHP information officer, said Hart was charged with misdemeanor DUI for driving with a blood alcohol level of above the legal limit of .08 percent. Those preliminary charges are pending the findings of the blood test that normally takes up to two weeks for the results.
   Hart was allowed to leave the CHP office after he was able to get a ride home. That’s standard procedure if no other crimes are involved and the suspect is not believed to be a risk to flee.
   The suspect had no prior DUIs on his driving record, Travis said. Hart initially reported that he had swerved to miss hitting a deer in the roadway.

Investigation continues

into South Fork visitor
U.S. Census Bureau

scheduled to conduct survey

   After receiving several reports of sightings of the so-called “suspicious lady” (“Suspicious visitor on 3R doorstep,” Oct. 28, 2005), the Commonwealth has learned that she may not be so suspicious after all. That is according to one South Fork resident who said he remembered a mailer that announced that a data collection person, under the auspices of the federal government, would soon be calling on Three Rivers residents.
   The woman, who has been in the Three Rivers area intermittently for the past month, first aroused the suspicions of a South Fork family who contacted the Commonwealth to see if any others in town had encountered the same woman. Now it appears that the woman, who is gathering demographic information, has knocked on dozens of doors and been seen on South Fork Drive as recently as last weekend.
   The woman, believed to be in her 60s, is driving a 1990s Buick or Oldsmobile sedan and is not making the objective of her questions clear to those she has selected to survey.

  “I sat right out here [behind the Cyber Café] by the river talking with the woman,” said Pat Moreno, who with her husband, Tony, owns and operates the local Internet café. “We talked for about 20 minutes and evidently Tony and I weren’t of much interest to her because she never offered the $30 or that we would be doing any follow-up interview.”
   The $30, according to several of the woman’s prospects, is being offered to participate in a second more in-depth interview. It is unknown if anyone has received any money for their participation.
Moreno said she regards herself as a very trusting person like most Three Rivers residents and didn’t hesitate to give the women certain bits of personal information even though she was a stranger.

  “That’s probably something we can learn from this,” said Pat. “Perhaps most of us are a little too trusting.”
   But of the dozens of Three Rivers people the woman has talked to, nobody seems to know which agency she is working for or how the data will be used. To date, other than being suspicious, annoyed, or inconvenienced, no crimes have been reported as a result of the visits.
   Don Mosley, a local dentist and South Fork resident, said several weeks ago he received a mailer that mentioned that a national survey was being planned for Three Rivers.

  “After reading the story last week, I remembered seeing a flyer that I received in my mailbox,” Dr. Mosley said. “It looked like all the other junk mail so most folks probably just tossed it.”
   Mosley said he remembered that this correspondence was from a federal agency so it figures, he said, that county officials wouldn’t know anything about it.

  2010 Census-- Some preliminary research conducted by The Kaweah Commonwealth revealed that one federal survey is currently ongoing in rural areas of Tulare County. The American Community Survey, a federally-funded study being conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, is one part of the revised 2010 Census. As a part of the study, an initial attempt is made to collect data by mail, but Census Bureau staff will personally visit those who do not respond.
   The American Community Survey is conducted under the authority of Title 13, United States Code, Sections 141 and 193, and response is mandatory. In this case, instead of receiving $30, as may have been promised by the above anonymous person, persons who do not respond to the survey will be fined up to $5,000.
   Then again, since a respondent’s confidentiality is guaranteed when answering Census questions, any Census Bureau employee who violates this provision is subject to a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to five years.

  Use common sense-- Basically, the number-one priority is to ensure that all members of a household are safe and know how to stay safe.
   First, it’s always important to know to whom you are talking. When approached by solicitors, whether in person or by telephone, always verify that the charity or group they represent is legitimate before providing any information.
   Require positive identification before you permit strangers to enter your home. If still in doubt about a person's identification, verify it by contacting the organization they represent before allowing them in.

Federal agencies

conduct local fires

   Two prescribed fires were planned to be ignited Wednesday, Nov. 2, one managed by the National Park Service, the other by the Bureau of Land Management.
   Highbridge East— The Park Service began ignitions on the second half of the Highbridge East Prescribed Fire in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. This fire was initially started Thursday, Oct. 24, but wet weather caused its postponement.
   The ignitions this week will complete the 840-acre unit, which is located north of the Mineral King Road and east of Silver City. The area ranges in elevation from 7,400 to 9,800 feet.
   A few visitors to the Mineral King area have reported smoky conditions and ash falling from the sky during the day. The Mineral King Road closed to the public on Tuesday, Nov. 1. The area will reopen to visitors on Memorial Day weekend 2006.
   Case Mountain— The Bureau of Land Management is trying again on Case Mountain, which is located about five miles east of Three Rivers. Last year, the burn was limited in its acreage due to a swift-moving storm that caught fire personnel off guard.
This year’s burn, accessed only by unimproved, dirt roads, was ignited Wednesday, Nov. 2, and is planned to take four days and total 160 acres. The main objective of the fire is to reduce the potential for a catastrophic wildfire within the Case Mountain grove of giant sequoias.
   Fire crews, which consist of BLM, Park Service, and CDF personnel, have taken preventative measures to protect the sequoias by removing heavy fuel accumulations near the base of the trees prior to the fire.
   Case Mountain is located at about 6,800 feet election. The grove, which has been previously logged, is located on both BLM and private land with 40 mature sequoias on about 55 acres.

County explores

‘Walkable Communities’

   The Tulare County Association of Governments will be hosting a series of free “Walkable Communities” workshops during the week of November 14. Eight communities — Dinuba, Exeter, Farmersville, Lindsay, Porterville, Tulare, Visalia, and Earlimart — will host a workshop.
   The interactive workshops, presented by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking and three to four hours in length, will emphasize the importance of planning for people and places, not the automobiles.
   The Visalia event will be held Tuesday, Nov. 15, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Convention Center.
   Community participation is welcomed and necessary. For more information, call TCAG, 733-6653, ext. 4893.

Three Rivers kids

come home champions

   For the 13th year, the California Open International Taekwondo Championship competition has been held, but only for the past few years has Three Rivers had any contenders participate.
   The event was held Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Orange County. It is billed as one of the most extensive tournaments in the world, and, this year, there were more than 1,300 competitors and 5,000 spectators in attendance.
At this year’s competition, two eight-year-old Three Rivers kids came home winners.
   Sage Davis was awarded silver medals in both Forms — the demonstration of various moves — and Sparring — an exhibition of offensive and defensive moves. He has competed in this event for three years, most currently in the red-belt division.
   In the rank advancement of belt colors that means Sage is just one belt away from the coveted black belt, signifying among other things, the most experience in the sport.
   Grant Gardner also won two silver medals, one in Forms, the other in Sparring. He competes in the yellow-belt division.
   Tae kwon do is an ancient Korean martial art that teaches a form of unarmed self-defense.
   Both athletes are students of Jung’s USA, which holds weekly classes year-round at Three Rivers School.

Woodlake High School

Tigers outlast Cardinals

in second overtime

   Last Friday night, in just the third overtime game in the past decade, the Woodlake Tigers (3-5, 1-4) took a giant step toward post-season play with a dramatic double-overtime win on the road over the Orosi Cardinals (2-6, 1-4), 20-13. Sophomore quarterback John Gomez, after sidestepping a fierce pass rush, threw an 11-yard scoring strike to senior Aaron Payne that proved to be the game winner.
   But under the rules of the “California tiebreaker,” Orosi had one more series from the Woodlake 10-yard line. The Tigers stiffened on defense and held the disappointed Cardinals on four consecutive plays for no gain.
   The win was huge for Woodlake, according to head coach Brian Costa, who said the entire team was feeling the pressure to get a win after the Lindsay game.

  “Our guys were sky high for the Orosi game and we just refused to lose,” Costa said. “Orosi is a big rivalry and we were in the game all the way until the very last play.”
   But in the regulation part of a game that featured some great defense, Woodlake’s only score came on a sensational 65-yard interception return by Carlos Acosta, a junior defensive back. That play tied the score at 6-6 in the third quarter.
   Neither team could muster a score in the fourth quarter and the gun sounded, sending the game into the first of two overtimes. Costa said Woodlake, again on the short end of some questionable calls, could have won the game in regulation.

  “We missed an extra point and a field goal that could have been the difference,” Costa said. “But the real story was how the offense really moved the ball up and down field.”
   Costa said that with each snap the offense is getting more comfortable with a new pro-set offense that the coaches installed after failing to score any points in the Lindsay game.

  “We still have a ways to go to learn the new offense, but the guys have really responded,” Costa said.
   On defense, Costa said, the Tigers bent a few times, but were more than up to the task against a very good Orosi team.

  “Don’t forget, Orosi beat Lindsay and they wanted very badly to beat us,” Costa said. “On defense, seniors Aaron Payne and Mikey Ordonez really stepped up, and their play inspired the whole team.”
   That inspired play is just what the Tigers will need again this Friday at home against the much-improved Corcoran Panthers.

  “I told the guys this week in practice that a win over Corcoran would earn a trip to the playoffs,” Costa said. “Teams like Dinuba and Exeter in our league move up for playoffs so a few more wins for this team is a very realistic goal.”

Lady Tigers sweep Corcoran

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Lady Tigers volleyballers served up 20 aces in their straight-set win at Corcoran, 25-13, 25-23, and 25-19. Janee Plunkett, junior hitter, who had seven kills to go with seven aces, paced the Tigers. Alley Reeves of Three Rivers, the team’s only sophomore, had five kills.
The victory ensured a third-place East Sequoia League finish for the Tigers who raised their league record to 10-3. They concluded the regular season last night at home versus Exeter, the ESL champions who were attempting finish their regular season with an overall record of 36-1.

 
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