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In the News - Friday, DECEMBER 17, 2004

Only in the December 17 print edition:



County to review

Kaweah rafting plan

   In what’s become a year-end ritual, on Tuesday, Dec. 21, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors will listen to a report that 2004 was another “successful,” albeit short, whitewater rafting season on the Kaweah River. The Kaweah River Management Plan (KRMP) that was adopted in 1997 stipulates an annual update be provided to the BOS relative to commercial whitewater rafting in Three Rivers.
   The KRMP was intended to address certain problems that resulted in the past from river rafting along the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in the section between Sequoia National Park and Lake Kaweah. The regulatory ordinance sets limits on the amount of companies allowed to operate and determines how many rafting trips are permissible on any given day.
   The plan allows the eight licensed companies to utilize the river and run up to eight rafts with 64 people per day. A post-season evaluation looks at capacity restrictions and solicits community input on the preceding season.
   The 2004 season, that again was dependent upon a snowpack that was below normal, started (April 24) and ended earlier (May 30) than the previous five seasons. The entire season was mostly confined to five weeks and was the shortest season since statistics have been compiled starting in 1997.
   Typically, the season has lasted six or seven weeks. An above normal snowpack in 1998 extended the season to 17 weeks. Interesting to note, though not contained in the county documents, is that the upcoming season for 2005, in terms of snowpack, is beginning to look more like 1998 than any of the others since the KRMP was adopted.
   In 2004, Tulare County issued licenses to eight companies (six of which have been licensed since the start of the plan in 1997) — Mariah Adventure Connection, All Outdoors, American River Recreation, Kaweah White Water Adventures, Tributary Whitewater Tours, Whitewater Connection, Whitewater Voyages, and Wilderness Adventures. This was the first year on the Kaweah River for American River Recreation that replaced Beyond Limits (1997-2003). Beyond Limits declined to apply so its license was granted to American River Recreation, the only outfitter on the county’s waiting list.
   In 2004, the total commercial rafting use, based on numbers furnished by the companies, was 1,392 rafts and 247 rafts. These numbers include clients and guides though safety “kayakers,” who typically run with the rafts to aid clients who topple into the river, are not included.
   Peak usage of the river in 2004 occurred in May. The greatest number of trips were conducted during the Memorial Day weekend and the ensuing weekend. The start and end of the season is defined when more than one company is operating commercial trips.
   In contrast to 1998, which had the greatest use, an average of 213 rafters ran the river per week in 2004; during its heaviest use, the average number was 257 per week. The critical difference is the length of season, which in 1998 ran all the way into early August as opposed to typically ending around June 1.
   Throughout the season, county planning staff is required to visit Three Rivers at least two times to observe how the commercial outfitters are complying with the KRMP. Due to the shorter season in 2004, only one onsite inspection was made on May 17.
   The county inspector observed parking in and around put-in and take-out areas, monitored noise on the river, and counted the number of rafts. Generally, the inspector reported that commercial rafting caused little or no impact and was conducted in a professional manner.
   Under the terms of the ordinance, the county also maintains a complaint log that in the early seasons, contained a few entries for noise and trespass. In the past three seasons, there have been no investigable complaints.
   County planning staff will briefly summarize the 2004 update of the KRMP at Tuesday’s meeting in the chambers of the board of supervisors. Those wishing to make public comments on river rafting or any other county matter are encouraged to attend. For a copy of the 2004 KRMP update or more information, call 733-6271.

Shirley O’Connell,

Three Rivers angel for 40 years
1925 ~ 2004

   Shirley O’Connell, a resident of Three Rivers for 40 years, died Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2004, at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. She was 79.
   A Mass of Christian Burial was held Monday, Dec. 13, at St. Clair’s Catholic Mission. A graveside service immediately followed at Three Rivers Cemetery, and a reception was held at St. Anthony Retreat.
   On July 31, 1925, Shirley Marie Herbert was born in Fort Worth, Texas. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1940 where she attended Immanuel Arts High School.
   In 1949, Shirley married James Pat O’Connell. In 1958, the couple bought their first business, a Mobil service station on the corner of Slauson and La Brea in Los Angeles.
   While living in the Los Angeles community of Westchester, the couple had two children. James Patrick was born in 1953 and Jay Michael was born in 1959.
   In late 1964, Shirley and her family relocated to Three Rivers, where she and her husband owned and operated Pat O’Connell’s Mobil Service (later known as Pat O’Connell’s Service).
   For the past 40 years, the O’Connells were a team who dedicated their lives to providing an indispensable service to both the residents of and travelers in the community that is above and beyond the normal day-to-day job. The O’Connells have worked tirelessly well into what most would consider retirement years. Shirley’s selfless hospitality is nothing short of legendary, and the lives she touched in positive ways number in the thousands.
   Shirley was active in a number of civic organizations. She was a longtime member of the St. Clair’s Altar Society and was involved in the planning of a number of events at the St. Anthony Retreat House in the earlier years of that facility’s existence. Shirley was a member of the Lady Lions, which in years past was the women’s support organization to the Lions Club.
   Shirley was an avid bowler in her younger years, enjoyed making hand-sewn and quilted baby blankets, loved a good mystery novel, had a fondness for cats and, speaking of cats, had a collection of Garfield toys that got a bit out of hand, reminisced her son, Jay.
   Shirley was preceded in death by her son, Jim, in 1974. She was also preceded in death by her sister and two brothers, including Jack Erwin Herbert, who was killed in service aboard the sinking USS Indianapolis at the end of World War II.
   In addition to her husband of 55 years, Pat, Shirley is survived by son Jay of Los Angeles; daughter-in-law Susie; her two grandchildren, James Patrick (JP) and Colin Finn O’Connell; her brother, Robert Herbert, of Snohomish, Wash.; nephew Mike Herbert of Columbia Falls, Mont.; two nieces, Denise Doggett of Snohomish, Wash., and Debbie Anderson of Oak Harbor, Wash.; and numerous grand- and great-grand-nieces and nephews.
   The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Shirley’s name to the St. Clair’s Altar Society, P.O. Box 429, Three Rivers, CA 93271.

Gary Lane
1937 ~ 2004

Gary Glen Lane of Three Rivers died Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2004, at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. He was 67.
A memorial service will be held today (Friday, Dec. 17), beginning at 11 a.m. at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.
Gary was born on Sept. 12, 1937, to Irwin and Winifred Lane in Phillipsburg, Kan. He was raised in Colorado.
On Nov. 15, 1958, he married the former Frances Foos in Colorado Springs. Gary worked as an operations manager in the banking industry for many years, retiring from his career at Wells Fargo Bank.
In addition to his wife of 46 years, Frances, of Three Rivers, Gary is survived by his sons, Robert and wife Valerie Lane of Los Angeles and William and wife Maria Elena Lane of Simi Valley; his mother, Iris Lane of Colorado; four sisters, Marcia Duell, Barbara Martin, Vicki Ramirez, and Luanne Dunn, and four grandchildren.
Online condolences may be sent by logging on to:

David Weaver
1918 ~ 2004

   David Robert Earl Weaver of Three Rivers died Friday, Dec. 10, 2004. He was 86.
   David was born Oct. 9, 1918, in Tulare to Clarence and Monica Weaver. He was raised in the San Joaquin Valley.
During World War II, David was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In 1944, he married the former Mavis Pennywitt Rucker.
   David received his master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California. In 1973, he earned his Ph.D. there in counseling and guidance.
   He was an elementary school teacher and principal for 14 years. David moved to Three Rivers in 1984 to reside in his family’s home, the present-day Indian Oaks Residential Care facility on Old Three Rivers Drive.
   David is survived by his two daughters, Carol Lynn Hoisington of Sevierville, Tenn., and Dianne Foglia of Upland; and his son, Dan Weaver, of Three Rivers, wife Elizabeth, and granddaughter Lorraine Weaver.

Alice Butler
1918 ~ 2004

   Alice B. Butler of Three Rivers died Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2004. She was 86.
   Alice was a native of California. She moved to Three Rivers to be near her daughter, Suzanne Stedman.

Irene Clay
1909 ~ 2004

   Irene Clay of Visalia died Monday, Dec. 6, 2004. She was 95.
   During the 1940s and ‘50s, Irene and her husband, Willy, lived in Three Rivers. The couple owned and operated the Moro Rock Tavern (present-day White Horse Inn).
   A service was held Thursday, Dec. 9, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia.

Lake Kaweah rollover

caused by fog

   On Saturday, Dec. 11, a solo vehicle accident occurred near Lake Kaweah just before sunrise. A passing Three Rivers motorist, who was flagged down by the victim standing next to the road, called the California Highway Patrol at 6:30 a.m. and assisted at the scene.
   The crash occurred when Victor Diaz, 58, of Fresno was driving his 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup eastbound in the vicinity of Lake Kaweah in foggy, limited visibility. Diaz, who stated that he was driving 40 to 50 m.p.h., reportedly fell asleep at the wheel. When he woke up he realized he had crossed the westbound lane and braced for the crash.
   Diaz’s vehicle became airborne, flipped over, and crashed into a rock where it came to rest.
   According to information gathered at the scene, the vehicle traveled approximately 50 feet down an embankment before coming to a stop. Diaz was not seriously injured but the pickup was heavily damaged.
   The CHP cautions all drivers to slow down in foggy conditions and during holiday periods be especially watchful for impaired motorists.
   In 2003, the CHP arrested 82,000 drivers statewide for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The CHP conducts additional enforcement activities throughout the holidays at a variety of roadside checkpoints to deter drinking-and-driving.
   National drunk-driving statistics confirm that more arrests are made on Christmas Eve, not New Year’s Eve as is widely believed.

TRUS board swears

in new members

   On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Three Rivers Union School board of trustees met for their final meeting of 2004 and dealt with several procedural matters. Newly appointed members Kristina Roper-Graber and Chantel Medeiros-Horton were administered oaths of office and officially began their four-year terms.
   Moises Garza was re-elected as president of the board. Roberta Harris was elected to serve as clerk. Marie Powell was elected as representative of the board and will vote in the 2005 election of members to the county committee on school district organization.
   Under old business, the board continued discussion relative to policies for seventh and eighth-grade fundraising. The board heard from parents who suggested that a policy be adopted that would credit parents and students who actually participated at functions like the annual Jazzaffair fundraiser dinner.

  “It was important that the board clarify that the fundraising must be for the benefit of all students regardless of whether they participate or not,” said Sue Sherwood, TRUS superintendent and principal.
   Sherwood also said that fundraising in general has been very successful in the current school year and has been a tremendous help to the cash-strapped district. The biggest single contribution came from the Three Rivers School Foundation that provided $15,000 to fund the music program.
   The art program also faced the prospect of being cut but is being coordinated by parent Dyann Graber who has called upon local artists as instructors.

  “The Arts Alliance, Woman’s Club, and the Lions Club all made donations to our art program,” Sherwood said. “Without the monies and the in-kind donation of local artists, a quality art program at Three Rivers School would not be possible.”

A serving of Christmas spirit

   On Wednesday, Dec. 15, Santa helped out at First Baptist Church where they were distributing dozens of FoodLink food boxes and Christmas toys to families in need in Three Rivers. The annual holiday gift-giving is coordinated by the Three Rivers Community Food Pantry, which provides food and other support to local residents year-round.

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