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, DECEMBER 30, 2005

Special four-page section:



Not available online.

Contact the Commonwealth

and order your print copy today!

Rain, snow

will ring in 2006

   On the heels of one of the driest autumn seasons in the last several years, above-average December precipitation in Kaweah Country has the current season total of nearly five inches approaching the above-average numbers of one year ago. In fact, Saturday’s forecast for periods of heavy rain should have the current season surpassing the January 1, 2005, totals.
   But the best news of all is that this succession of winter storms is opening the proverbial atmospheric door and bringing moist, unstable air with cooler temperatures to the entire Sierra Nevada region. All that upper instability means improving odds for more snow and the lowering of the snow levels in the local mountains.
   Forecasters are calling for at least a 20-percent chance of precipitation for each day until Wednesday, Jan. 4. Snow play areas in the nearby mountains at or near 7,000 feet should have some decent snow by New Year’s Day for hearty revelers.
   Park rangers advise that all mountain travelers carry chains and call ahead for the latest driving conditions (see page 10 for phone numbers). A number of Three Rivers businesses including the Totem Market, located near the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park, have plenty of snow chains available for sale or rent.


New year, new owner

   Earlier this month, after 16 years under the ownership of Ralph Nutter and son Curt, Dennis Villavicencio has acquired the eight-unit Sequoia Village Inn. For Dennis, an attorney who has practiced for the past 10 years in San Diego, buying the eight-unit inn has been a wonderful Christmas present and just the beginning of a highly-anticipated homecoming.
   Highly anticipated because Dennis lived here in the 1970s, graduated from Three Rivers School, and still has a number of family friends with whom he remains close. One of his grade-school buddies, David Mills, was also a college chum at San Diego State and is helping Dennis facilitate the move.

  INN THE MARKET-- Mills is currently a real estate agent at Century 21 in Three Rivers and helped his friend find just the right property and business opportunity.

  “We just call him Dennis V,” Mills said. “He’ll do well in Three Rivers because not only is he a good lawyer, he is a very sharp businessman.”
   Dennis said he has wanted to return home to Three Rivers for quite some time. Having friends here, he said, is making the transition from Southern California a lot easier. Dennis’s father formerly owned and operated the local Chevron station so he is no stranger to what it takes to own a business in Three Rivers.
   Dick Villavicencio bought the Three Rivers Chevron in 1972. After nearly two decades, he sold that business to the Reisingers, the current owners.

  “To leave my beachfront property at Carlsbad, the place I would be moving to would have to be very special,” Dennis said. “For me, there is no place I know better to live, work, and play than Three Rivers.”

  INN THE LONG RUN-- And for Dennis, “play” includes training three to four hours daily for the Ironman triathlon competition. These so-called “Ironmen” arguably are the best athletes on the planet.
   The grueling championship triathlon involves in succession a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. In 2005, Dennis said, he and his brother, Alan, a Clovis neurosurgeon, are ranked among the top 20 Ironman athletes in the U.S.
   Dennis is already enjoying his new training digs and looking forward to running and riding up the 25-mile Mineral King Road, with its 6,600-foot vertical elevation gain.

  “If you see some guy flying by on a bike or running along the road, it’s probably me,” he said.

  INN ADDITION-- To help oversee the Inn, Dennis has introduced his fiancée, Stacie, to Three Rivers. She came here by way of Colorado and is a self-proclaimed “mountain girl.”
   In the near future, the couple plans to move into the family’s Alta Acres house and remodel the inn’s living quarters into another lodging unit.

  “The Nutters recently built a chalet by the entrance and generally did a good job keeping the property in shape,” Dennis said. “What Stacie and I are doing now is upgrading the little things like adding flannel sheets and new shower curtains. We want our guests to enjoy the same comforts and amenities that we expect when we travel.”
   In addition to its prime location just outside the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park, the cozy inn offers affordable accommodations for parties from two to 12 persons.
   For more information or to make a reservation, call 561-3652.


Vicki Smith
1960 ~ 2005

   Vicki Mae Vierra Smith died early Christmas morning (Sunday, Dec. 25, 2005) in her sleep at her Three Rivers home. She was 45.
   A graveside service will be held today (Friday, Dec. 30), at 1 p.m., at the Three Rivers Cemetery.
   Vicki was born Nov. 16, 1960, in Visalia to Ernie and Jerrie Vierra, the youngest of three daughters. She was raised in Three Rivers and attended Three Rivers Union School and Woodlake High School before moving to Visalia and graduating from Redwood High School.
   Vicki formerly resided in Southern California, but returned “home” to Three Rivers about two years ago. She was currently employed at the River View Restaurant and Lounge.
   Vicki was preceded in death by her mom, Jerrie Brinkley, and her oldest sister, Sandi.
   She is survived by her sons, Michael Shafer, 17, and Daniel Shafer, 13, of Bakersfield; her father and stepmother, Ernie and Sherry Vierra, of Three Rivers; her sister, Gail Vierra Lyman, of Visalia; stepbrother Mike Brinkley of Three Rivers; loving companion Rick Gregory of Three Rivers; and several nephews and nieces.

David Van Dellen
1969 ~ 2005

   David Lee Van Dellen of Visalia died Friday, Dec. 23, 2005, due to injuries suffered in a car accident. He was 36.
   A graveside service was held yesterday (Thursday, Dec. 29) at Three Rivers Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at the Foothill Bible Church in Elderwood.
   David was born Nov. 2, 1969, in Visalia to Wayne and Barbara Van Dellen. He graduated from Three Rivers Union School and Woodlake High School.
   Growing up, David was active in the Boy Scouts, an avocation he shared with his father, Wayne (owner of Barby’s in Three Rivers). In high school, he was on the track and football teams. He loved baseball and fishing.
   David served five years in the U.S. Army as a tank mechanic, stationed in both California and Germany.
   In 1993, David married the former Carie Baker of Three Rivers. She is the daughter of Kathy and Kevin (stepfather) Bohl of Three Rivers and Tim Baker of Woodlake.
   For the past eight years, he worked as a welder.
   David is survived by his wife of 12 years, Carie; his parents Wayne and Barby Van Dellen, of Elderwood; sister Kathy Van Dellen and brother Daniel Van Dellen, both of Newport Beach; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
   Condolences may be emailed to:
   Donations in David’s memory may be made to the Foothill Bible Church, 37721 Road 200, Woodlake, CA 93286; or to Gideons International, P.O. Box 3493, Visalia, CA 93278.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL:
Entire contents of this website © Copyright 2003-2004 by The Kaweah Commonwealth