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  In the News - Friday, NOVEMBER 12, 2004

Election results not yet final;

Measure Z supporters regroup

   Although the majority of last week’s election race results remain unchanged after the November 5 update, Tulare County elections officials are saying that one local race is still too close to call.

  “The law stipulates that we have 28 days to complete our count,” said Hiley Wallis, Tulare County elections supervisor. “We still have quite a number of ballots to count and we’re hoping to release the final totals for all precincts by November 20.”
   In the race for a second Woodlake City Council seat between incumbent Jack Ritchie and Toni Ruiz-Lenz, the latest totals have the candidates in a virtual dead heat at 302 votes. Challenger Ruiz-Lenz said she is optimistic because she was able to pick up the one vote by which she was originally trailing in the results released November 3.
   But even with several hundred votes still to be tallied, Measure Z, the proposition to help defray expenses of operating the Three Rivers Memorial Building, will not garner the two-thirds needed to pass. The current vote totals stand at 740 yes (61.62 percent) and 461 no (38 percent).

  “I realize that they [the Memorial District] need more revenue,” commented one local senior who asked not to be identified. “I voted no because I just didn’t want to spend the money.”
That money amounts to $26 per parcel for property within the district. The district’s board is also trying to determine if it was proper to give ballots that contained Measure Z to voters who live outside the district’s boundaries.
   There was also discussion at Monday’s Memorial District board meeting that some voters may have been confused by all the publicity surrounding Fresno’s “Measure Z.” That proposition was passed and will provide funds to help the Chaffee Zoo.
   Bill Tidwell, Memorial District president, said that he is confident the measure would have passed if voters had received more information prior to the November 2 election. He said that it is conceivable that a separate election via mail will be held as soon as the board can get county approval.
   Preliminary voter turnout for the Three Rivers precincts was 76 percent. In Tulare County, a growing number of absentee ballots slightly raised the numbers at all precincts to 62 percent.

Three Rivers Memorial Building:

A historical perspective

  As the saying goes: “You always want what you don’t have.” And, interestingly, things we have are often taken for granted.
  Case in point: Three Rivers civic leaders put forth great effort more than a half-century ago to ensure that local tax dollars went toward a memorial building in this community. In 2004, the Memorial District was unsuccessful in obtaining the two-thirds majority required from Three Rivers voters for a parcel-tax assessment that would be used for continued maintenance and operation of the facility.
   In 1950, Three Rivers was a part of the Woodlake Memorial District and that community was proposing to construct its own memorial building. Local citizens were working diligently, however, to keep their tax dollars in Three Rivers:
   From the THREE RIVERS CURRENT (Nov. 17, 1950)— Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce members and Three Rivers citizens agreed that a committee be appointed to work with the [Woodlake] Memorial Board. It was urged that this committee continue to place the needs and desires of the Three Rivers community before the five-man board, urging them to invest here the tax money that has accrued from the Three Rivers area.

  …[It was] explained that a sum of $74,800 has been collected from the 30-cent tax levied for memorial buildings in this District and $92,927 will have been collected by the end of this tax period…
   Chamber president Gene Gray, presenting the arguments of those who favored a withdrawal from the [Woodlake] district, stated that [Three Rivers] would benefit only to a slight degree from a memorial building in Woodlake.
   [A board member] stated that he could easily understand that Three Rivers would want its own memorial building. He understood the predicament Three Rivers feels in being located so many miles from the memorial building, which will have been built in a large degree (27 percent or higher) by Three Rivers taxpayers. He said he could see no reason why the total funds collected could not be divided and a building to suit local needs be built [in Three Rivers].
   Taxpayers pointed out that they joined the district originally because of the virtual promise made by a visiting speaker that Three Rivers would have a memorial building.

                                                      * * *
Eventually, the withdrawal from the Woodlake district was placed on the local ballot and, as with Measure Z, required two-thirds of the vote to pass. It did, and Three Rivers got its own district and facility.
   A sign of the changing times is that in the recent election 38 percent of Three Rivers voters said “no” to providing tax dollars to the struggling Three Rivers Memorial District, which is no longer self-sustaining. Thus, the facility’s future remains in jeopardy.

Two women sentenced in rape case

   On Monday, Nov. 1, Lisa Marie Bowers, 35, and Stephanie Williams, 30, were sentenced to prison for their role in the kidnapping and rape of a woman by twin brothers Shawn and Shane Grimes of Visalia. On May 22, 2003, a local county road department employee found the victim on upper North Fork Drive near Cherry Falls after she had been stabbed and left for dead.
   Bill Montgomery, who assisted the victim, said she told him that she was blindfolded and locked in a closet at a Lemon Cove residence while her kidnappers plotted what they might do with her.
   The twin brothers, who once claimed they were suffering from drug-induced amnesia, are facing life terms if convicted. Last August, the duo entered pleas of no-contest.
Bowers and Williams also pleaded no contest to the charges. A no-contest plea has similar implications as a guilty plea relative to sentencing.
   Bowers was sentenced to nine years, eight months for kidnapping, auto theft, and false imprisonment. Williams was sentenced to seven years, four months for assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, and a separate check-fraud charge.

Library books Friday hours

   The Three Rivers Library — that 1,000-square-foot building on Eggers Drive filled with thousands of books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and CDs — just opened its doors to more patrons. Friday hours have been added for the convenience of local readers.
   For almost two years, the local library has been open just two days a week — Tuesday and Thursday — after budget cuts sliced Mondays from the schedule. As of November 1, several branches, including Three Rivers, extended the operating hours.
   The Three Rivers Library is a branch of the Tulare County Library, based in Visalia and a member of the San Joaquin Valley Library System. There are branch libraries in 15 Tulare County communities.
   In addition to books, media, and periodicals, the Three Rivers Library also provides public access to computers with Internet access. The Visalia library also has a computer lab and instructional classes are held there.
   The Three Rivers Library is located off Sierra Drive at 42052 Eggers Drive (behind Three Rivers School). The librarian is Kathryn Ramsey.
   The facility has resumed its evening hours on Tuesdays and is open noon to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. The library is also open Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
   Books may be checked out for three weeks; magazines and videos are available for a week. To use the county library’s online services, go to:

Long-lost art now hangs in library

   In 1975, Arnie Nixon presented a collection of Leo Politi prints intended for “the dear children of Three Rivers.” Nixon, a professor who taught children’s literature at what is now CSU Fresno, delivered this gift to the Three Rivers Library and other libraries in the San Joaquin Valley.
   Since the prints were unframed and there was no funding to pay for framing, they were set aside and forgotten. That is, until earlier this year, when librarian Kathryn Ramsey rediscovered them.
   There was still no money in the library budget to ensure preservation of the prints, but a local benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, became aware of the artwork and its history, and paid to have them restored and framed.
   Leo Politi was born in Fresno in 1908. He spent his childhood years in Italy and eventually settled in the Olvera Street area of Los Angeles.
   He used his lifelong love of drawing and art-school training on this famous L.A. street, sketching tourists and life in general. His drawings of Mexican children became his claim to fame and he has authored several children’s books that feature this specialty.
   The Fresno Public Library was named for Politi, as was the Leo Politi Elementary School in Los Angeles.
   Both Professor Nixon and Leo Politi have since passed on. But they left a legacy for Three Rivers and today, the restored and framed prints adorn the back wall of the children’s section of the library.

Local horse show judge

featured in national magazines

   Christy Wood, a renowned horse trainer and horse show judge who resides in Three Rivers, is featured in several upcoming national publications.
   In the November 2004 issue of Appaloosa Journal, an article by Christy discusses saddle seat equitation.
   In the December 2004 issue of Western Horseman, Christy provides tips on how to successfully retrain a race horse for show and pleasure riding, something she has accomplished first-hand.
   In an article in the February 2005 issue of Horse and Rider, Christy will write from a judge’s perspective on how to ride a Western horsemanship pattern.
   Christy has been an Appaloosa Horse Club judge for 20 years. In addition to owning and operating Wood ‘N’ Horse Training Stables in Three Rivers, she competes in horse shows and judges 20 shows annually.

Incentives offered to reduce diesel use

   On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) officials applied with the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to establish an incentive program encouraging Central Valley farmers to convert diesel-powered irrigation pumps to electric use. The pumps have been identified as a significant source of air pollution in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys.
   The San Joaquin and Sacramento valley basins, along with Los Angeles and Houston, have some of the most polluted air quality in the nation. According to the California Air Resources Board, there are at least 5,700 of the diesel pumps in the Central Valley that are responsible for approximately one-quarter of three specific pollutants.

  “As a Central Valley resident, I speak from first-hand experience when I tell you that we all welcome improved air quality,” said Mike Chrisman, a former SCE official who is now the California Secretary of Resources. “I would encourage those farmers who would benefit from this program to help us clean the air by retiring their diesel engine irrigation pumps.”
   The PUC is expected to render a decision on the program as early as March 2005.

3R student makes modeling debut

   Chyna Smith, an eighth-grader at Three Rivers School, recently modeled a wedding gown in the “Wedding Style 2004” bridal show, held at the Visalia Convention Center. At just 12 years of age, Chyna was the youngest “bride” in the show.
   Chyna graduated from the Barbizon School of Modeling in August 2004.
   Her current assignment is modeling for the Apparel Gallery on Main Street in Visalia. Chyna is a “live mannequin” and models formalwear and bridal gowns in the storefront window for passersby.
   Chyna is the daughter of Scott and Irene Smith of Three Rivers.

Martial arts students to

compete in world event

   Five Three Rivers martial arts students will be traveling to the Anaheim Convention Center tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 13) for the 13th annual California Open Tae Kwon Do Championships. It is estimated that more than 1,500 competitors from throughout the world will attend.
   Last year, Sage Davis of Three Rivers won a gold medal at the event. All the local competitors attend Jung’s U.S.A. classes that are held at Cort Gallery on Mondays and Wed-nesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
   For information about classes, call 625-5425 or 561-4332.


Tigers pounce on Panthers, 36-8

by John Elliott

  Last Friday on the road, the Woodlake Tigers (1-8) finally got the winless monkey off their collective backs by steamrolling the hard luck Corcoran Panthers (0-9). The win came none too soon for a Woodlake team that has struggled the entire season.

  “We just flat-out played them on both sides of the ball,” Coach Costa said, “and for the first time all year we really scored some points.”
   Costa said Corcoran looked scary on film even though they are winless.

  “They [Panthers] are big and strong and have a 212-pound running back who plays with an experienced 6’2” quarterback,” Costa said. “I just can’t figure why they aren’t winning.”
   But Costa knows that in addition to size and ability, in any game situation there are intangibles. On this night all the intangibles went Woodlake’s way as the Tigers were in control from start to finish.

  “The offense made some big plays and [Ryan] Baker played an outstanding game at QB,” Costa said. “They had their chances, but our defense came up big and made three goal line stands.”
   It was a game with lots of big plays but none were bigger than the interception that Tiger defender Travis Groeber returned for a 46-yard touchdown. A senior linebacker from Three Rivers who calls the defensive signals, Groeber made a perfect read on the play stepping in front of the receiver to make the biggest pick of the season.
   Now, all that stands in the way of a trip to the playoffs for the Tigers is very good Exeter team that last week beat Orosi, 22-15. Costa thinks that Corcoran might be a good indicator of what fans might expect to see when Woodlake travels to Exeter this Friday night for the regular season finale.
   Earlier this season, Exeter defeated Corcoran, 35-8; Woodlake’s margin of victory was just one point more.
   The neighborhood rivalry with Exeter dates back longer than anybody can remember. For the past several years, the two rivals have faced off in the Valencia Classic.
   Woodlake and their legion of fans would like nothing better than to beat Exeter and regain the trophy that currently resides in the Monarch trophy case.

  “If we beat Exeter, then I think our guys, especially the seniors, deserve a trip to the playoffs,” Costa said. “There’s nothing bigger in the Valley than football, and playing in the post-season is where we all want to be.”
   But if the Tigers can somehow find a way to win at Exeter, the playoffs could be more punishment than reward. In the Sequoia League’s small-schools division, Woodlake is likely to have to travel to Chowchilla or face powerful Dos Palos, the likely No. 1 seed.
   In the JV game, the Panthers turned the tables on the Tigers and did the clawing. The JV’s season record dropped to 4-4-1.


Cross country boys

finish second; girls fifth

   On Wednesday, at Woodward Park in Fresno, Coach Roy Guerra’s boys cross-country team finished second to McFarland in the Division IV Central Section Championships. Only an administrative change prevented the Tiger runners from winning their first-ever section championship in cross country.

  “CIF officials had informed me earlier in the season that McFarland would be competing in another division,” Guerra said.
But when the championship meet was scheduled for this week, the McFarland Cougars, perennial Division IV boys’ champions, remained pitted against the up and coming Tigers. Erick Garcia of Parlier (16:01) turned in the top individual time for the 3.1-mile course in Woodlake’s division.
   McFarland’s boys finished second, fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth to easily win the team championship. Woodlake’s Juan Carlos Alatorre (17:18) and Javier Ceballos (17:28) finished sixth and 10th respectively.
   Templeton finished as the top girls’ team with Exeter as the runner-up in Division IV. Woodlake finished fifth overall.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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