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In the News - Friday, December 3, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)



No one injured in

Foothills Visitor Center shooting

   On Thanksgiving Day, a man drove through the exit lane at the Sequoia National Park entrance station then fired shots near the Ash Mountain visitor center. The incident ended when the 42-year-old male from the Sacramento area was surrounded by law-enforcement rangers and taken into custody on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 25.
   The man threw down his handgun and was arrested without incident. According to witnesses at the scene, the man had been shouting about the end of the world and Armageddon while he fired at least eight rounds.
   A search of the suspect’s vehicle recovered drug paraphernalia and 10 pounds of packaged marijuana with an estimated street value of $35,000.
   He was transported to a local hospital where he was held for psychiatric evaluation. Charges in the case are pending.

Furnace flash sparks blaze

   Tulare County firefighters responded to a report of smoke pouring out of a condominium located adjacent to the Three Rivers Golf Course and behind the Village Market on Tuesday, Nov. 30. According to an investigator of the lunch-hour incident, it was the quick-thinking and work of a local — Yolanda Araiza — that saved a furnace flare-up from becoming a serious structure fire.
   When Pam Lockhart, who with her husband Greg owns the condo, turned on the heat in the vacant unit to make ready for a luncheon, she smelled something burning and the place began to fill with smoke.
   That’s when Yolanda, an experienced volunteer firefighter, who just happened to be a guest for lunch, climbed onto the roof of the one-story structure and called for water from the garden hose. She immediately began pouring water through a vent that doused the blaze.
   A fire-prevention investigator reported finding scorch marks in the attic near the furnace. Without the quick thinking and actions of Yolanda before firefighters arrived, he said, there would have been a far more serious fire.
   For their mop-up efforts, firefighters also enjoyed Pam’s chili and homemade dessert.

  “It’s all good,” said Pam. “It was just a few girlfriends getting together for lunch and the main course turned out to be a five-fire-engine chili.”

Drug trafficker sentenced

   A spokesperson for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks reported last week that Gilberto Ontiveros Valencia, a Mexican national, had been sentenced in connection to growing thousands of marijuana plants at various sites on park lands during the years 2002-2009. Ontiveros was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for growing marijuana and being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.
   Ontiveros was apprehended during a raid in 2009 at a grow site in Sequoia National Park. He was suspected of having been responsible for all the grow sites within one canyon in the park since 2002.
   One complex of grow sites that Ontiveros was linked to damaged over five acres of previously undisturbed park land. During cleanup operations at the site, rangers removed over a half-ton of garbage, 10,000 feet of irrigation hose, and a variety of hazardous materials.
   In addition to the prison sentence, Ontiveros was ordered to pay $59,094 in restitution to the park for the costs of the cleanup. The investigation and subsequent conviction of Ontiveros was a team effort by members of the Investigative Services Branch, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks rangers.
   IN OTHER PARK NEWS, several motorists were reported to have run the red signal lights in the Generals Highway construction zone.

  “Anyone who enters those the restricted zone is risking causing a crash that could result in injuries or fatalities,” cautioned Dana Dierkes, the parks’ public information officer. “The few minutes you might save is just not worth the risk.”
   The majority of these incidents occurred during the busy Thanksgiving weekend.

City of Woodlake breaks ground on
$20m wastewater treatment project

   Woodlake officials and project dignitaries at the groundbreaking ceremony held Wednesday, Dec. 1, which marks the start of the largest project ever undertaken by the City of Woodlake. The two-phase project will include the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, two sludge ponds, and the replacement of two main lines that lead to the site.

  On hand at the ceremony were Rudy Mendoza, City of Woodlake council member; Rick Joyner, Quad-Knopf Engineering planner; Frances Ortiz, council member; Jose Martinez, council member; Bill Lewis, city administrator; Raul Gonzales, mayor; Lisa Butler, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Steven Beck, Santec engineer; and Robert Nelson, USDA.

Sports teams' records see ups and downs

Here's what happened during the fall season

  The great thing about sports is that no matter how bad a game is lost or a play is botched there is always another time to win or redeem oneself. Unfortunately for a number of fans and parents who remember their own glory days, it’s more like “What have you done for me lately?”
   Everyone enjoys winning but the rewards of participating in interscholastic sports are about a lot more than wins and losses.
David Pasquini, a teacher at Woodlake Valley Middle School, who also coaches girls’ junior varsity volleyball and boys’ varsity basketball at Woodlake High, views all those practices and games as a time to see his students in a different light.

  “For me the gym is just another classroom where I get to interact with student athletes,” said Coach Pasquini. “It’s here where each player can learn important life lessons about working together with others, being a good sport, and team work.”
   East Sequoia League (ESL) selections for each of the varsity teams will be announced next week.
   Varsity Football— The most popular of any school sport, it generally draws the most fans and generates the most revenue. At Woodlake, only 10 percent of the gate income goes back into football; at other schools it’s more like 50 percent.
   Want more success for Tiger Football reminiscent of the glory days? Then there needs to be more support for the program. Dollars translate to better equipment, more stipends for coaches, better facilities, a commitment to developing players, etc.
   It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy —– if you build it, Woodlake Tiger administration and community, the players and the wins will come. This years’ varsity Tigers finished the season 4-6 and chose not to go to the CIF Division V playoffs.

  “We know where we need to improve and the adjustments that must be made to make this a winning program,” said Coach Jeff Beck, the offensive coordinator. “It’s all about player development and getting the kids to listen to what we tell them.”
   JV Football— Won a second consecutive co-league championship and finished with an overall record of 7-4, and 3-1 in league.

  “We teach them to play as if it’s their last game,” said Eddie Dominguez, JV head coach. “We started quite a few frosh so we’re looking forward to having a strong team next year.”
   Volleyball— The varsity Lady Tigers finished with an overall record of 10-5; their 7-1 record in ESL play was good for a co-league championship. JV Lady Tigers were a perfect 8-0 in ESL play, good for a “three-peat” as league champs.
   The frosh Lady Tigers were 6-2 in ESL play, which provided them with a league championship. From top to bottom, volleyball was a huge success this season under the tutelage of Coach Tory Johnson, ESL Coach of the Year. Congrats, Lady Tigers!
   Girls’ Tennis— It was a rebuilding year for girls’ tennis as the varsity squad lost its top 10 players to graduation. With 14 out of 21 first-year players and no varsity experience, the season was quite a challenge.
   In league play, the girls managed only one first-round win, 7-2 over Lindsay. In the second round of league, the girls beat Lindsay 7-2, Orosi 5-4, and McFarland 5-4. The league record was 4-6, which was good enough to tie for third place out of six teams (McFarland is in the ESL for tennis).
   Second-year player Joee Denis of Three Rivers was the team captain, team MVP, and number-one player. She had a tough position as she had to battle every team’s top player, but she improved and ended up with six singles wins. Another second-year player, sophomore Paris Carlsen was the number three player.
   First-year players Selena Harrison of Three Rivers and Dalila Vasquez of Woodlake had some great wins and qualified for the Valley Individuals (both eliminated in the first round). Rounding out the talented sophomore class is Kalinda McElroy of Three Rivers. She had some big wins at #5 and #6 singles; the biggest coming against McFarland when she won in a tie-breaker to tie the team match and give the doubles team a chance to win the match.
   Cross Country— The 2010 cross-country team enjoyed another successful and competitive season. Among the boys, junior Leo Hernandez led the way throughout most of the season; team captain was Devante Bryant.
   Leo Hernandez was named the Most Valuable Runner. The boys finished second in the ESL for the fourth consecutive year, again losing only to McFarland. McFarland went on to win the Division III Section title and remains a perennial state powerhouse.
At the Section Championship meet, the boys finished seventh in Division IV.
   Of the seven boys that made up the Varsity team, six will return next year.
   The girls’ team was much improved, led by sophomore Leticia Garcia. Lety finished fifth at the East Sequoia League meet and 14th at the Section Championship meet. She was named Most Valuable Runner.
   Also, running in the front pack of the league race was Evanna Navarrette. Navarrette finished seventh in league and 33rd in the division.

Operation Christmas Child seeks donations

   Operation Christmas Child, started by a student seeking community-service hours 12 years ago, is once again gearing up for the holiday season. Today, the holiday drive is sponsored by Community Presbyterian Church of Three Rivers.
   The following items are currently being collected to fill Christmas gift bags for children who may not otherwise have a present under the tree:
   Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hairbrushes, combs, crayons, coloring books, candy canes, and small toys and stuffed animals.
   Donation boxes are located at Three Rivers Drug & Gifts and the Presbyterian Church.
   Monetary donations will also be graciously accepted. Make checks out to Community Presbyterian Church, make a notation of “OCC” and mail to P.O. Box 685, Three Rivers, CA 93271, or deliver in person to the church office.
   Gift bags will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 18, in Three Rivers during the Three Rivers Bread Basket’s Christmas distribution. Additional gift bags will be handed out on Christmas Eve in Visalia.


Tony Rohrkemper
1951 – 2010

   Anthony B. Rohrkemper, a 30-year resident of Three Rivers, lost his battle to a rare form of cancer on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010. On this day before Thanksgiving, he was surrounded by family members at his Three Rivers home. He was 59.
   Tony was born in Hamilton, Ohio, on March 13, 1951, to Ralph and Catherine “Kate” Rohrkemper. The family relocated to Corcoran, where Tony was raised. Tony was a member of the Corcoran High School marching band, which is where he began playing the flute.
   After graduating from Corcoran High, Tony attended U.C. Santa Barbara. He continued developing his musical talent and was accomplished on the flute, alto saxophone, and several other instruments, all from which Three Rivers residents benefited over the past three decades as he played in various local bands.
   Tony moved to Three Rivers in 1976, where he met his soon-to-be-wife Beth. The couple moved to the Central Coast from 1979 to 1981, where their daughter, Logan Kathleen, was born. They returned to Three Rivers in June 1981, where they have resided ever since.
   Tony was a skilled patternmaker and during his career created technical products for industries from aircraft to water management. For the past six years, he worked locally, building custom homes with his friend and employer Vince Andrus at Hindsight Construction and alongside his brother-in-law and neighbor Bill Nussbaum.
   Tony was an avid mountain-bike rider, spending every spare moment in the saddle on trails throughout Three Rivers and abroad. Because of all his passions, Tony had a large circle of friends.
   As a result, his final days were spent in the company of many of these friends and loving family members. They gathered at his home to share stories, memories, music, and love.
   Maya Ricci and Jana Brittain of Three Rivers led the Rohrkempers to hospice care. Because of this compassionate service, Tony was able to remain in the comforting surroundings of his own home, cared for by wife Beth, daughter Logan, his brother-in-law Bill Nussbaum and wife Marilyn Messa, sister Anne, and hospice buddy Archie.
   In addition to his wife of 30 years, Beth, of Three Rivers and his daughter, Logan, of Sacramento, Tony is survived by his brother, Mike, and wife Gerry of El Segundo; brother Jim of Chatham, Mich.; sister Anne and husband Bill Turnbull of Bellingham, Wash.; niece Sarah and nephew Kevin and their families; and his extended family of riders and musicians.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that remembrances in Tony’s name be made to the Kaweah Delta Hospice Foundation (mail checks to 900 W. Oak St., Visalia, CA 93291; or call 733-0642 with a credit card) or to another charity of the donor’s choice.
   A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at the White Horse Inn on Sunday, Dec. 26, from 3 to 7 p.m. A memorial mountain-bike ride is planned for what would have been Tony’s 60th birthday, March 13, 2011.

Notice of Deaths

James Perry
1926 ~ 2010

   James A. Perry of Three Rivers died Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. He was 84.
   A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 11 a.m., at Community Presbyterian Church. A luncheon will immediately follow at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

Frances Beutler
1913 ~ 2010

   Frances Beutler of Woodlake died Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. She was 97.
   Frances was a former resident of Three Rivers who with her husband Willis operated the Three Rivers Market during the 1950s.
   Visitation will be at Miller Memorial Chapel in Visalia on Sunday, Dec. 5, from 2 to 5 p.m. A memorial service will be held at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers on Monday, Dec. 6, at 10:30 a.m.


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