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In the News - Friday, DECEMBER 21, 2007

Sierra is a

winter wonderland

   If your holidays could use some more “happy” then just consider this great seasonal weather and the prospect for more of the same in the 10-day forecast. Last Tuesday and Wednesday’s air quality index of 16 was at or near the best readings ever recorded for December days in the central San Joaquin district.
   The recent storminess that completed its journey across Kaweah Country and up and over the Great Western Divide last night (Thursday, Dec. 20) dumped three to four feet of snow in the higher elevations of the nearby mountains. While Santa is smiling at the prospects of good sleigh-landing conditions for Christmas Eve, park rangers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are bracing for a heavy holiday influx of visitors anticipating snowplay.
   The Generals Highway between the parks remains closed but there are snowplay areas available at either end of the mountain parkway. Big Stump, near Grant Grove is open to visitors who use Hwy. 180; Wolverton is accessible for Highway 198 travelers.
   Motorists should expect snowy and icy road conditions, be prepared to use tire chains, and should have warm clothing and winter gear. Nordic ski and snowshoeing conditions are excellent, and the Alta Ski Shop at Wuksachi Lodge has newly stocked equipment for all ages.
   Rainfall totals for the season in Three Rivers have eclipsed eight inches. That number has forecasters feeling confident about predictions for normal precipitation in January, typically the wettest month of the season.

Bullenes open

‘The Buckaroo’

   The name “Buckaroo” might conjure up memories for longtime residents of the popular watering hole and eatery of the same name that was once on the westernmost end of town.
   A cowboy or rancher might recall a broncobuster or a legendary cowhand of the old West. And a visitor to Three Rivers might envision romantic western Americana or a place where the ranching heritage might still be experienced.
   Dan and Sharon Bullene are hoping that when you think any or all of the above — and especially of gourmet coffee, fresh baked pastries, and western-style barbecue — you’ll think of their newest food service venture: The Buckaroo.

  “I’ve noticed while being in business in Three Rivers over the past three decades that most visitors, especially Europeans, long to experience something related to the Old West,” said Dan Bullene. “At The Buckaroo, we want folks to come by for some old-fashioned Western style and hospitality.”
   Dan and wife Sharon have been around the food-service block and also explored some roads less traveled trying to create an enduring business in Three Rivers, where they have resided since the 1970s.
   Their most successful venture to date, if judging by the throngs of satisfied customers who frequented “Bullenes,” was a chic but casual Main Street eatery in downtown Visalia during the 1980s. The award-winning food and service were arguably the best in town.
   After more than enough years of the brutal restaurant grind, Dan and Sharon sought semi-retirement in a Three Rivers winery where the couple looked forward to idling away afternoons sipping wine with visitors in the tasting room.
   After planting the first vine in the early 1990s, the reality of trying to establish even a minor player in a California industry that thanks to Robert Mondavi was going global was overwhelming.

  “What was I thinking?” Dan recalled. “I had never worked so hard in all my life.”
   In 2004, the Bullenes sold the winery buildings and vineyards. Last month, after buying the property known formerly as The Cabin, and later as Nectar, the Bullenes opened The Buckaroo to an appreciative morning coffee klatch. The delay in getting the place opened, Dan said, was waiting for the custom oven to be shipped from the Midwest.

  “The way it works is that I get in here about 5 a.m. each morning and load it with all kinds of goodies including Sharon’s homemade cinnamon rolls,” Dan said. “When we open a couple of hours later, everything’s freshly baked and piping hot.”
   Dan’s familiar tools of the trade, a set of customized stainless steel barbecue grills, are already onsite in preparation for what’s in store next for regulars and visitors to The Buckaroo.

  “When we get into the busy visitor season,” Dan said. “we’ll be serving some of our specialties from the grill like tri-tip and salmon. Folks can eat here by the river or take an order to-go for a picnic in the park.”
   The Bullenes are back, so prepare for big things to be coming from the little cabin on the river.
   NOTICE: The Buckaroo will be closed Christmas Day.

A new way to

obtain local burn permits

   One of the implications of the transition from Cal Fire to a Tulare County Fire Department includes some inconvenience for Three Rivers property owners. That’s because with the local Cal Fire station officially closed for the winter, burn permits for yard waste and other vegetation control are no longer available in Three Rivers, except on the third Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and in Woodlake from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on that same day.
   The burn permits are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Cal Fire headquarters on Lovers Lane in Visalia. The permits are not available at Tulare County Fire Department stations, although county dispatchers are supposed to notify local firefighters when foothills residents ignite burn piles.

  “It's going to cause some confusion at first but it’s the reality of having a Tulare County Fire Department when last year this area was covered by Cal Fire,” said a furloughed Cal Fire seasonal firefighter. “Today [Monday, Dec. 17] is my last day… our agency is cutting seasonal personnel until the start of the 2008 fire season.”
   What this means for local property owners is that they might have to hustle down the hill for a permit to meet the regulations that require hazardous dry grass, weeds, and some tree limbs to be cleared 100 feet from all structures.
   In 2008, after the disastrous 2007 fire season, the 100 ft. clearance requirements remain mandatory in all of the state’s newly designated high risk wildland fire areas including Three Rivers. Cal Fire has not yet announced a policy on how or when the annual inspections will be conducted in the Tulare County high risk areas.
   In other fire news, the newly created Tulare County Fire Department used the Dec. 18th board of Supervisors meeting to unveil five brand new fire engines. The new engines are high-tech and carry 750 gallons of water as well as foam, and Hurst hydraulic tools for vehicle extrication and specialized rescues.
   The average age of Tulare County’s current firefighting fleet is 15 years old with some equipment that dates from the late-1970s. The new engines will update and augment the existing fleet by allowing more efficient shifting of resources that ensure better equipment is always available for emergencies.
   Each of the new engines cost $227,000 and will be initially assigned to Kings River, Ivanhoe, Strathmore, Terra Bella, and Tipton.

What’s open… what’s not

   Tuesday, Dec. 25, is Christmas Day, a legal holiday. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in America on June 26, 1870, by President Ulysses S. Grant.
   Here’s a rundown on what will be open and closed in Kaweah Country:
   Businesses— Some closed and others will have limited hours; call first. On Monday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), most businesses will be open normal hours.
   Schools— Winter Break at Three Rivers School and Woodlake High.
   Government— Most federal, state, and county offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 24, and Tuesday, Dec. 25. Emergency services will be staffed. Park visitor centers and the Giant Forest Museum normally open this time of year will be open. National Park Service business offices will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
   Post offices— Open Monday, Dec. 24, until noon. Closed Tuesday, Dec. 25.
   Library— Closed Monday, Dec. 24, and Tuesday, Dec. 25.
   Banks— Open Monday, Dec. 24, until 3 p.m. Closed Tuesday, Dec. 25.
   The Kaweah Commonwealth— Limited hours on Monday, Dec. 24, and Tuesday, Dec. 25.
   Pharmacy— Open Monday, Dec. 24, 9 am to 1 pm. Closed Tuesday, Dec. 25.
   Trash collection— Three Rivers Disposal customers whose collection day is Tuesday, Dec. 25, will instead receive service Wednesday, Dec. 26. As a result, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday collection days will also be one day later.

Sweet treats


Last Saturday evening, after a grand entrance that included sirens and flashing lights, Santa made his rounds with candy canes at the Community Caroling event, sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce and Three Rivers Historical Society.

Canyon Christmas

Matthew Rangel of Dinuba painted the scene of Kings Canyon National Park on an official White House Christmas ornament for the National Park Service-themed tree in the White House (see front page story, Dec. 7, for background and information on the Sequoia ornament artist). Each of the 391 units in the National Park System were requested to appoint an artist to create an ornament.

Chamber announces

new slate of officers

   The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce board of directors represents a skilled and diverse group of dedicated volunteers. Here are the new board officers for 2008:
   JOHANNA KAMANSKY, PRESIDENT— Owner of Big Trees Marketing, a Three Rivers-based company specializing in marketing and communications. She brings 15 years experience working in marketing, outreach, and communications, including creating and implementing the marketing and fundraising program for a California nonprofit; serving as a Park Service interpretive ranger; and public relations and conservation partnerships at park sites in Arizona, Mississippi and California. She has lived in Three Rivers for six years.
   SCOTT MULLIKIN, VICE PRESIDENT— Owner of Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs, which is also the UPS-authorized shipping outlet in Three Rivers. He previously worked for FedEx for over 22 years, most recently as a sales account executive and operations manager. He was raised in Memphis, Tenn., and, in 1988, moved to Southern California where he lived until moving to Three Rivers three years ago.
   MARK TILCHEN, SECRETARY— Executive director of the Sequoia Natural History Association. He has lived in Three Rivers for 11 years. Previously he was the general manager for GSI, until 1996, the former Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks concessionaire. He lived in the parks for 19 years. Mark has more than 34 years of hospitality management experience in food and beverage, hotel, gift shops, grocery, service stations, and ski resorts. He has also lived in New York City, Albany, Denver, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Death Valley National Park, and Mammoth Lakes.
   CHRIS SCHLOSSIN, TREASURER— Owner and manager of Sequoia Motel and Mobile Home Park, which she purchased with her husband, Tom, in 1996. She previously lived in Rowland Heights, where she worked in interior design and was an active member of the Whittier Guild of the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and Assistance League. Chris has two grown children, daughter Arcka who lives in Woodlake and son Kristofer who lives in Three Rivers and works for Cal Fire. Chris believes it’s important to be an active member of the community and enjoys helping out various causes at all levels in an effort to make the community stronger.

EMT-1 training

coming to Three Rivers

   Ready for a challenge and a reward? Then 2008 may be your year to make a difference.
   Starting in January, an Emergency Medical Technician-1 (EMT-1) training program will be held in Three Rivers. This class will prepare participants to provide emergency medical care to victims of accidents and sudden illness and teach skills in symptom recognition and emergency-care procedures and techniques.
   In Three Rivers, EMTs provide routine and emergency medical care with the ambulance service or fire department. Calls might include traffic accidents, water-related emergencies, falls, and from community members requesting medical assistance.
   EMT skills may also be used in hospitals and clinics. In addition, EMT training and experience is the first step toward becoming a paramedic.
   The basic level of emergency care includes basic life support (CPR and automated external defibrillation), oxygen therapy, bleeding control, splinting and bandaging, and basic care of medical emergencies such as heart attacks, stroke, breathing problems, and unconsciousness. EMTs are permitted to administer a few medications, such as oxygen or glucagon for people in diabetic shock, or assist patients in administering their prescribed medications such as nitroglycerin for heart attacks or an inhaler for breathing problems.
   The January program will be offered on 12 to 14 consecutive Saturdays for eight hours each session for a total of about 110 hours of training.
   To become an EMT-1, one must be at least 18 years old, have a current CPR card, and a valid driver’s license. They are required to be in generally good physical health and be able a lift a fair amount of weight.
   A student who completes Emergency Medical Technician-1 training is required to pass a national examination and background check before being issued a certificate to practice.
   If a class participant chooses to become a Three Rivers Ambulance volunteer, then that organization will pay the class fee. The fee will be determined based upon how many register.
   For more information or to register for the training program, call Sandy Owen, 561-4264, or Dave Vasquez, 901-9020.

 
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