News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam


In the News - Friday, NOVEMBER 11, 2005

‘Suspicious’ visitor debunked

   When some South Fork residents became suspicious recently of a woman asking personal questions, there were some misconceptions as to the purpose of the visit. The woman never appeared to be threatening in any way but her explanation that she was conducting a survey for the “Public Health Service Office of Applied Studies” seemed, at least to some of the participants, less than convincing.
   After one of the interviewees declined to participate because they had read about the “suspicious woman” in the newspaper, Artis Bender, the assigned field interviewer, thought she better ask her supervisor for help.
   That’s when Jerry Dunham of Pasadena, a regional director for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, contacted the Commonwealth. Dunham explained that the survey has been conducted since 1971 and is commissioned under the auspices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
   Dunham furnished background on his company that conducts the survey and a brief history of its evolution. Bender, who lives in Fresno, has worked on the survey for more than 10 years, he said.
   Dunham said the purpose of the survey, which gathers data from more than 200,000 American households annually, is to track the use of licit and illicit drugs; identify trends in the use of alcohol, tobacco, and various types of drugs; and to assess the consequences of drug use and abuse.

  “The data that we collect from randomly-chosen households in a cross section of American communities helps Congress decide how and where to spend a big portion of its health services budget,” Bender said. “All the data we collect is confidential. We don’t even know the last names of the people we interview.”
   For the unfinished survey work in Three Rivers, Val Hunk of Hesperia joined Bender earlier this week. Hunk, who has worked on the survey for more than five years, is a traveler/address “lister,” she explained.
   The difficulty of doing the survey in Three Rivers was compounded because the introductory letter mailed out to most of the targeted households contained a street address and not necessarily a mailing (P.O. box) address.

  “We send out a letter that tells the residents that they have been chosen and to expect a visit,” Bender said. “Most of the people I’ve met here either didn’t receive the letter or else tossed it with their junk mail.”
   Dunham said approximately 30 to 60 households in Three Rivers might be chosen to participate. The field representatives are fed random addresses that in isolated communities like Three Rivers can be a challenge to locate and gain access.

  “I grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska so I enjoy trying to find my way around,” said Bender. “But with some folks not being home in the daytime I’ve had to locate some of my addresses in the dark.”
   Here is how the survey works: A lister identifies an address and that household receives a letter introducing the survey and informing the potential responder that a field person will be visiting in the near future.
   Once the interviewer makes contact, a few demographic questions are asked with the responses immediately entered on a handheld computer to determine if the subject’s profile is needed to enhance the existing database. There is no pressure to answer any or all of the questions that ask such things as household income and the ages of persons living at a given address. If it is determined that the place is used as a vacation home another address is selected.

  “The computer tells us immediately if we will be proceeding with a more in-depth interview,” Bender said. “If we are instructed to proceed, the participant is asked to sit down with our laptop computer and answer a more comprehensive set of questions. At the end of that session, which normally takes about an hour to complete, we pay the person 30 dollars.”
   Bender said she never knows whose response is actually going to be used or, if they are chosen, how they answered. She said her number-one priority is to be persistent in trying to make contact with people at all those addresses that have been selected.
   Both women described themselves as “real people-persons” and wouldn’t be working on the survey if they didn’t enjoy meeting and visiting with strangers.

  “After working on the survey for a number of years and visiting so many communities, I have lots of interesting stories to tell,” said Bender. “But the truth is that the survey is designed to really help rural communities like Three Rivers, and when folks are a little suspicious of what we are doing, we’re not surprised.”
   In response to an inquiry by The Kaweah Commonwealth, Shelly Lowe of the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed that the American Community Survey is being conducted in every county nationwide.

  “Only a relatively small number of addresses are randomly selected to participate every month,” she continued. “A subset of households that don’t respond by phone or mail receive a visit from the enumerator to take the survey in person.”
   For more information, go to and click the “Are You in a Survey?” link.

Prosecutor to be

arraigned next month
Blood alcohol content more

than three times the legal limit

   Patrick Hart, a King County prosecutor and Three Rivers resident, was driving with a blood alcohol level of .25 percent when he crashed down a Sierra Drive embankment last month. The results of Hart’s blood test were made public earlier this week by Don Gallian, assistant district attorney of Tulare County.
   The fact that Hart’s blood alcohol was more than three times the legal limit of .08 percent, the misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated will also include a special allegation. The special allegation for being above .20 (milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or milligrams percent) could increase the sentence if Hart is convicted.
   Hart, 54, who was alone in his pickup, was arrested shortly after 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28. His arraignment is set for Wednesday, Dec. 7.
   The DUI charges have not affected Hart’s employment as second-in-command in the Kings County district attorney’s office. His boss, Ronald Calhoun, has stated that Hart has not been placed on leave and his future with the prosecutor’s office is dependent on the outcome of the case.
   If convicted, Hart will most likely spend time in the county jail and be placed on probation. He could also have his driver’s license suspended with travel to and from work an exception.

Election results
Statewide Special Election
November 8, 2005

   For Three Rivers residents, there were no hot-button issues or local races on the ballot. For all California voters, it was the fifth election in four years.
   Just 33 percent of the area’s 1,546 registered voters in Three Rivers, Kaweah, and Ash Mountain physically went to the polls. When combined with absentee ballots, this total is expected to be about 50 percent, which, as usual, is several points higher than the county (44 percent) and statewide (42.6 percent) turnouts.

Notes: The “California” category is the final
indicator of the measure’s passage or failure.
Three Rivers results do not include absentee ballots.

Three Rivers: Yes
Tulare County: Yes
California: No

Three Rivers: Yes
Tulare County: Yes
California: No

Three Rivers: Yes
Tulare County: Yes
California: No

Three Rivers: Yes
Tulare County: No
California: No

Three Rivers: Yes
Tulare County: No
California: No

Three Rivers: No
Tulare County: No
California: No

Three Rivers: No
Tulare County: No
California: No

Three Rivers: No
Tulare County: No
California: No

Fire season ends
Burn permits available

   The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) announced this week that Monday, Nov. 14, is the official end to the 2005 fire season. The declaration marks the end of hazard burning restrictions in the foothills.
   Burn permits will be issued beginning next week and are valid until the 2006 fire season is declared, typically around April 1. Although the fire danger has lessened considerably, wildfires could be ignited in areas where tinder-dry vegetation remains. All residents are reminded that permits are required for any open burning and good fire breaks around burn piles are a condition of the permit.
   Burn permits may be obtained by visiting the Three Rivers Fire Station during regular business hours. Burning hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Permit holders are required to call the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (1-800-665-2876) prior to any ignitions to determine if burning is authorized for that day.
For more information, contact the Three Rivers Fire Station, 561-4362.

The mystery badges

of Sequoia National Park
The legacy of Charlie Blossom

   It seems that most people enjoy a good mystery. Here’s a local one that goes back about 100 years.
   When Sequoia National Park and the old General Grant National Park (now Kings Canyon) were established in 1890, there was no “National Park Service” to help manage them. Instead, for about 25 years, the U.S. Army showed up every summer and patrolled the park lands.
   Beginning in 1914, the Army was no longer assigned to the parks and the job was handed off to the four permanent civilian rangers.
   The first civilian ranger, Ernest Britten, was hired in 1900. By 1903, there were three more rangers: L.L. Davis, hired to patrol General Grant Park; Charles Blossom at Hockett Meadow; and Harry Britten, who patrolled Giant Forest.
   There’s a photograph from the early 1900s that shows the four rangers. They are standing next to their horses and cast long shadows. All four are wearing cowboy hats and Harry has a revolver strapped to his hip.
   While not really uniformed, all four clearly sport two badges on their chests: one badge is round in outline, the other is of a shield design. Park researchers have a pretty good idea what the round badge is, but the shield badge is proving to be a real mystery.
   The round badge is either the Interior’s “Forest Reserve Ranger” badge dating from 1898 to 1905 or the Department’s “National Park Service” badge of 1905 to 1920 (shown in photos in the Nov. 11, 2005, print edition). It would make great sense, of course, that the four park rangers were wearing round “National Park Service” badges when the group photograph was taken, but the exact date of the photograph is not known.
   We do know that Charles Blossom was hired over the winter of 1902-03 and that Ernest Britten transferred to the new U.S. Forest Service in the summer of 1905.
   This question came up recently when an unexpected donation was made to the parks’ archives.
   Charlie Blossom, the second-ever civilian ranger in Sequoia, was killed in a car accident near Farmersville in 1916 at the age of 49. A 12-year-old boy riding in the car was also killed, but Charlie’s wife and their three-month old daughter, May, survived the crash.
   May Blossom grew up in Three Rivers and eventually married and made her home in the Fresno area.
   May Blossom Knisley died recently at the age of 89. Although she was too young when her father died to have any memory of him, she kept a variety of his papers, books, and other belongings most of her life.
   In January 2004, family members, at the direction of “Aunt May,” generously donated the Charlie Blossom collection to the parks.
   One last donation was made on September 30, 2005. Shortly before Aunt May’s service at the Three Rivers Cemetery, the family donated a round badge that Charlie wore.
   It is the 1905-1920 issue, with National Park Service across the top and Department of the Interior across the bottom. An eagle stands in the middle.
   It is in excellent condition and is the only one in the parks’ archives. The parks are extremely grateful to May Blossom Knisley and her family for this and their other generous donations.
It now seems more likely that the photograph of the four rangers was taken closer to 1905 and that they are wearing the “1905” badge. That’s not a given, of course, since Charlie continued to serve right up until his death in 1916 and his “last” badge could have replaced one, or two, earlier ones.
   It is that second badge, the one in a “shield” design that we know very little about. The parks’ archives do not have one.
   In fact, it seems that no Park Service historian has ever seen one. The standard reference work on National Park Service uniforms contains a sketch — made by magnifying Charlie Blossom’s badge in the group photograph. This sketch is the best look anyone has had of the badge (pictured in the Nov. 11, 2005, print edition).
   The top line is illegible, the center sports a three-digit number, and the bottom line appears to spell out “PATROL.”
   Does anyone know anything about the “shield” badge?
   Visitor photographs with any of the rangers may show new details. Family or family friends may have remembrances.
   Perhaps there are old newspaper stories with photographs. And, perhaps, one still sits somewhere among papers, books, and other family belongings?
   If anyone has information, comments, or suggestions regarding the badge or any matter of park history, contact the office of the parks’ archives, (559) 565-3133, or email Ward Eldredge, museum archivist, at:

  Tom Burge, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks archaeologist, contributed this article.

Betty Budge
1929 ~ 2005

   Betty Budge, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. She was 76.
   A memorial service will be held today (Friday, Nov. 11), 2 p.m., at Salser & Dillard Funeral Chapel, 127 E. Caldwell Ave., Visalia.
   Betty is a native and lifetime resident of the San Joaquin Valley, being born in Sanger on June 8, 1929. She was raised and educated in Coalinga.
   Betty and her husband of 54 years, Keith Budge, lived in Three Rivers for three decades until moving to Visalia just three months ago.
   Betty enjoyed her local volunteer work in the community. She was a longtime member of the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, serving as the club’s president in 1981. She was also active in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
   Betty was nicknamed “Grandma Flash” by her family because of her love of photography. She also loved the outdoors and passed that appreciation on to her family, by whom she will be greatly missed.
   In addition to her husband, Keith, Betty is survived by her sons, Rick Budge of Virginia and Mike Budge of Three Rivers; daughters Donna and husband Jack DeVries, formerly of Three Rivers and current residents of Visalia, and Debra Turnipseed of Visalia; her sister, Norene Larson of Modesto; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
   Burial will be private. Condolences may be emailed to:
   Remembrances in Betty’s name may be made to: Tulare County Hospice, 900 W. Oak St., Visalia, CA 93291.

Tigers get a

kick out of Panthers

  “You never quit and I’m proud of you guys for hanging in there tonight,” Coach Costa told his Woodlake Tigers after a dramatic come-from-behind win over Corcoran last Friday. “I said that if we could get this win we would go to the playoffs. You guys really deserve it.”
   No matter what happened last night (Thursday, Nov. 10) vs. Exeter in the final game of the regular season, Woodlake will at play at least one more game in the postseason. That’s because, with the season on the line, the Woodlake Tigers (4-5, 2-4) have bounced all the way back with impressive wins over Orosi and Corcoran.
   Versus the Corcoran Panthers (2-7, 1-5) the Tigers were matched up against a vastly improved team that came to Woodlake minus their starting quarterback. On the opening series, the Panthers kept the ball on the ground and scored on a seven-yard TD run.
   A missed extra point had Corcoran leading 6-0 before the Tiger offense even touched the ball. After the Tigers punted, both teams played tight defense until John Gomez-Carretero, the Tiger sophomore QB, sneaked in from the one-yard line in the second quarter. Souk Stephens, a Three Rivers senior, added the extra point and the Tigers led, 7-6.
   After the Panthers shocked the Tigers with a 64-yard pass play, Thomas Navarro, another Tiger sophomore, stole the ball right out of the arms of a Corcoran ball carrier. That takeaway saved a sure touchdown.
   On the ensuing series, a Panther defender intercepted an errant pass and returned it for a defensive score. A botched two-point conversion now had Woodlake trailing 12-7.
   Then the Tiger offense took over on its own 36-yard line and went to work. The new pro-set offense worked to perfection as senior tailback Daniel Tiller ripped off runs of 25 and 32 yards. This Tiger TD and extra point made it 14-12 at halftime.
   In the third quarter, the Panthers grabbed the momentum by scoring a safety that knotted the score, 14-14. The Tigers then grabbed the lead on a 25-yard pass play to senior receiver Jose Marquez.
   A blocked extra point had the Tigers leading, 20-14. The Panthers also added a TD and a two-point conversion in the third quarter to regain the lead, 22-20.
   In the fourth quarter, both defenses sparkled until the Tigers drove the ball deep into Panther territory with the clock running down to three minutes. Coach Costa elected to go for a five-yard field goal on fourth down and goal.
   Souk Stephens, Tiger kicker, was cool under pressure and split the uprights from the left hash mark. Souk’s clutch kick, after a great save on defense by Three Rivers senior linebacker Aaron Payne, proved to be the game winner, 23-22.
   In the JV game, the mostly frosh Tigers, according to their coaches, played a lot better than a 21-8 loss would indicate. That loss dropped their overall record to 3-6.

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