1995 ~ March 2005
the past decade,
been telling readers
they won't read, hear,
see anywhere else!
In the News -
Friday, APRIL 1, 2005
For a decade, the Three Rivers Lions Club has held an annual
Recognition Night on the night before Jazzaffair weekend to honor a local
This year’s honoree, John Hanggi, is a native son of
Three Rivers. The Lions Club is recognizing Hanggi because for 18 years
he has been a responder to hundreds of local emergencies — fires,
traffic accidents, or medical incidents.
John explained that growing up here and attending Three Rivers
School helped him become aware of what it means to have community spirit.
After graduation from Woodlake High School in 1986, it seemed the right
thing to do to give back to the community, so he became a volunteer firefighter.
As a boy, Hanggi said, he can vividly recall seeing air tankers
flying in to make their drops on one foothills fire or another.
been through a lot of training, I never really thought of a career as
a firefighter,” John said. “I guess you could say I got involved
because I’ve always had the urge to help people when they needed
John has deep family roots that go back to the 1860s when
his ancestors, the Blossom and Clough families, settled along the South
Fork. In 1993, he married his wife, Kris, who is currently the cafeteria
manager at Three Rivers School.
The Hanggis’ daughter, Courtney, a TRUS third-grader,
is the seventh generation of John’s family to live in Three Rivers.
She is the only known seventh-generation descendent of a Three Rivers
family who resides here.
Along with his older siblings — sister Nicky and brother
Jody — John is a partner in JNJ Farms in Lindsay. His grandparents,
the late John Wollenman and wife Bernie (of Three Rivers), relocated to
that area 50 years ago from Orange County and the family has been citrus/olive
growers in that part of Tulare County ever since.
“Because I work
in the family business, I can normally break away at a moment’s
notice,” John said. “From work, I can be back here in 35 or
The rest of his time at home, he said, he’s “available”
and on call. One time, John was playing in the local men’s softball
league and got an emergency call while in the batter’s box.
Not only has he served as a volunteer firefighter, but he
has also been part of the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance team for 15
years. John is licensed to drive both the Three Rivers fire engine and
ambulance, the only local volunteer licensed to drive both emergency vehicles.
Come fire, traffic accident, or high water, odds are John
Hanggi will respond to the emergency. Two years ago, he completed the
training as an Emergency Medical Technician II and now he can also provide
advanced life support services.
changed since I first became involved is the training,” John says.
“More and more hours are required each year to be trained or recertified
in one life-saving emergency or another.”
For 15 years, John has served as chief of the local volunteer
firefighters. Untold hours are consumed these days by also being on the
ambulance board of directors.
“I guess I first
became involved for the adrenaline rush of responding to an emergency,”
recalled John. “After all these years and hundreds of calls, I volunteer
for the satisfaction of knowing I saved a life or was able to help somebody
Sequoia Park reveals
On Wednesday, television crews, newspaper reporters, government
officials, and environmental advocates were part of a Sequoia Park tour
to inspect restoration efforts in a former marijuana garden located along
Trauger’s Creek below the Mineral King Road. At a briefing staged
at the Hammond Fire Station, park officials explained that the current
restoration work is part of a complex of gardens that was discovered and
eradicated in 2002 and is just the beginning of restoration of environmental
damage done by local pot growers.
all about the raids and the thousands of plants that were discovered growing
in the parks in the past couple of years,” said Alexandra Picavet,
the parks’ public information officer. “Restoration is the
rest of the story.”
In February, parks personnel, with the assistance of a California
Conservation Corps crew, began a pilot program to restore the impacts
of marijuana gardens that have been identified as part of the Trauger’s
complex. Cleanup crews, led by Richard Thiel and Bob Meadows, NPS biological
technicians, removed 5,515 pounds of garbage and eight miles of black
irrigation tubing from one of the smaller garden areas.
Athena Demetry, NPS ecologist, estimated that literally tons
of fertilizers, pesticides, and poisons have been used in the pot-growing
“These kinds of
materials cause tremendous impact to the environment and may eventually
find their way into the East Fork of the Kaweah River and drinking water
of Three Rivers,” Demetry said.
Demetry also demonstrated how the terraces are being leveled
with hand tools and how the restoration efforts are aimed at preventing
further erosion in the former growing areas.
“The growers cut
out the understory but try to leave most of the canopy to prevent being
seen from the air,” Meadows explained. “The piles of cut vegetation
and some of the tent camps in this area must have been visible from certain
places along the Mineral King Road.”
An armed law-enforcement ranger, who accompanied the group
for security, said that this camp was most recently being used as a trailhead
to supply more isolated gardens down the mountain and on the other side
of the Kaweah River.
pressure on these growers and they’re moving to other parts of the
parks and to adjacent public lands just outside the national park boundaries,”
the anonymous ranger said.
Part of the purpose of the pilot program is to find out just
how much money is needed to restore these former gardens. More than $78,000
was used to treat just several acres of what Meadows has estimated to
be a 180-acre complex in these two adjacent East Fork drainages.
In 2004 alone, NPS rangers eradicated more than 44,000 plants
within park boundaries, their biggest annual haul to date. They suspect
that growers are already in the area scouting locales to use for this
that you are all here today to help spread the word,” Picavet said.
“The law-enforcement activities and the restoration of these public
lands will be ongoing and it’s going to take a lot more funding
to do the job.”
In the last two weeks, two separate accidents involving three
vehicles reminded Kaweah Country motorists of two locales where accidents
happen frequently. The more serious accident occurred on Wednesday, March
23, at 5:50 p.m. about 200 feet west of the entrance to Boat Ramp No.
2 at Lake Kaweah.
A 50-year-old Tulare man was driving a 2005 Chevy truck eastbound
on Highway 198. Witnesses told a CHP investigator at the scene that just
before leaving the roadway the driver of the pickup began to weave erratically
and then crashed into rocks on the south side of the shoulder.
The accident was caused by hypoglycemia, a complication of
diabetes, which made the driver lose consciousness. In the crash, the
victim suffered facial lacerations and at least one fracture.
Paramedics at the scene reported that the driver’s
blood sugar was 33 (85 to 110 is the normal range). He was transported
in the Exeter Ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia for further
The other mishap occurred on March 18 when two Three Rivers
motorists were pulling onto Sierra Drive from the Village Market parking
lot. One motorist was headed east and didn’t see the other driver
who was headed west. No injuries were reported and the vehicles sustained
only minor damage.
April 1 marks the start of the busy visitor season. That
means the chance of encountering drivers who are unfamiliar with Three
Rivers and Kaweah country roads is greatly increased.
“It is imperative
that motorists drive defensively and use extra caution, especially with
all the extra tourists and Lake Kaweah boating traffic,” said Officer
Travis, CHP spokesperson.
Last week, county Long-Range Planning staff announced that
they are presenting a public workshop in Three Rivers on Wednesday, April
13, at 6:30 p.m. The purpose of meeting in McDowall Auditorium at Three
Rivers School is to furnish an update on the status of a Three Rivers
element being integrated into the county’s new General Plan.
After several years of research, surveys, and a series of
local public forums, county staff has added the essentials of the updated
Three Rivers Community Plan into what they have entitled: Section 9 –
Foothill Growth Management Plan (FGMP). The FGMP provides a comprehensive
statement of the development policies and standards that set forth land
use and circulation patterns for the foothills region of Tulare County.
The FGMP was prepared to specifically meet the Board of Supervisors’
objectives of rationally directing growth in the foothills of Tulare County,
maintaining the viability of foothills agriculture, and reducing county
expenditures through a more efficient delivery of services.
At last month’s Three Rivers Town Meeting, Supervisor
Allen Ishida said that staff may be at a standstill on the General Plan
and it is very important that there be local input.
“It is very important
that the Three Rivers community come to a consensus on what growth would
be appropriate in thearea,” Ishida said.
The goal outlined in this section of the existing plan, adopted
in 1980, is to retain and strengthen community identity for Three Rivers,
Lemon Cove, and Springville. This objective will be retained in the new
plan as well as encouraging foothills communities like Three Rivers to
develop a commercial core.
The project manager for the county’s community planning
project is Theresa Szymanis. For more information, call her at 733-6291.
Supervisor Ishida at CSD
On Wednesday, April 6, at 7 p.m., Supervisor Allen Ishida will attend
the monthly meeting of the Three Rivers Community Services District. He
will be suggesting that the CSD become a lead agency and assume responsibility
for the Three Rivers element of the county’s General Plan. The public
is invited to attend. Information: 561-3480.
Wild cucumbers work their
tendrils into spring landscape
It’s one of the spring’s most prolific wildflowers
in the foothills, but rarely gets the accolades its more colorful and
less aggressive counterparts receive. And it’s a vegetable, no,
a fruit. But, no matter, it is doubtful that it appears regularly on local
dinner plates or in lunchboxes.
More commonly considered a weed, the wild cucumber is one
of the strangest plants in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Currently in its
growing stage, the wild cucumber is a perennial vine that can be seen
climbing as high as 15 to 20 feet, entangling itself among the oaks, manzanitas,
and other plants, and attaching itself to fences and trailing over boulders.
According to the late Samuel J. Pusateri, a Three Rivers
resident and biologist who specialized in the plants of the Kaweah canyon
and the Sierra, some other names for the wild cucumber (Echinocystis
macrocarpa) are big root, man root, old-man-in-the-ground (based
on its root, which can weigh 40 to 60 pounds), Marah, squirting cucumber,
and the Spanish name chilicote.
The wild cucumber is a green vine the emerges each spring
from a massive taproot. The grape-like stem is long and think with secondary,
long, viny branches growing from the main stem. The leaves are stalked
and maple-shaped; the flowers are cream-colored and star-shaped.
The plant produces large, prickly, gourd-like fruits that
dangle from the stems like holiday ornaments.
When they are young, the spiny fruit can be squeezed with
a bare hand. But later in the season, the spines stiffen, become sharp,
and may be painful to those who have a run-in with them.
This protective covering discourages foraging animals so the seeds from
the drying wild cucumber can disperse and propagate. The seeds fit snugly
into four tubular compartments and are coated with a lubricant that permits
them to slip easily.
"This strange procedure
is fascinating to observe,” wrote Sam Pusateri in a July 1960 article.
“Once the fruit matures, it begins to split at the lower end and
thus exposes the elongated, bean-shaped, olive-colored seeds.
“During the heat
of the day, gases contained in the compartments expand. As the pressure
mounts, the seeds shoot out with great force.
“This process is
like a cork-stoppered bottle filled with air. A change in the pressure
will cause the cork to eject with a bang.
“A few seeds will
remain in the capsule. These escape only after the fruit has been reduced
to a net-like bladder.”
The Native Americans of the foothills region used the wild
cucumber in many ways. The bitter root, which even wildlife considers
non-edible, was used to stimulate ailing appetites.
The oil from the seeds were used as an emollient. The juice
squeezed from the fruit is said to have been effective against ringworm,
scalp infections, and even to remove bloodstains from buckskin clothing
after hunting or battles. The seeds were strung as beads and used by Indian
and Spanish children in games. The inside seed casing was used as a loofah-like
TIME WILL TELL
10 years ago this month
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 1995— A proposed zoning change
of approximately 172 acres of the Thorn ranch on North Fork Drive to “commercial/recreational”
was considered by the County of Tulare Planning Department. The zoning
change was requested by prospective buyers Helena Kallianotes and Marino
Restrefo to construct a 24,000-square-foot lodge with restaurants, 30
guest rooms, stables, tennis courts, swimming pools, and as many as 90
guest cabins. The meeting was continued to April 26.
Greg and Randy Dixon
of Three Rivers worked their way through a 32-car field to win the Street
Machine One class championship during the 36th annual March Meet at the