Who ya gonna call?
By John Elliott
Last month’s river rescue, when a Kaweah
River guide pulled a 13-year-old swimmer to safety, may have exposed
a crack in the area’s emergency-services coverage. At least several
Three Rivers residents believe that’s what happened as a result
of the Wednesday, April 7, incident.
The problem stems from an apparent lack of response
after Susan Powers of Three Rivers made a 911call. Powers called for
assistance just before 5 p.m. after she heard the swimmer, who was clinging
to a rock in the Kaweah River, call for help in the vicinity of her
house just below the Sequoia National Park entrance.
After about 30 minutes and no response, Powers called Frank
Root of Kaweah White Water Adventures, who fortunately was able to respond
and provide help at the scene. Powers had also called the cell phone
of Jim Fansett, Three Rivers resident deputy, who was off duty that
“There was no
answer on Fansett’s cell phone so that’s when I called Frank
[Root],” Powers said. “No fire truck, ambulance, or sheriff’s
vehicle ever arrived at the scene.”
Kirk Gramberg, CDF fire apparatus engineer, who has whitewater
rescue training, said he was on duty in Three Rivers that day and never
received a call. Mike Davidson, chief of fire prevention and a Tulare
County Fire Department spokesperson, said that calls from landlines
routinely are routed through the dispatcher at the Tulare County Sheriff’s
Apparently, that’s what happened April 7. Approximately
45 minutes into the incident, but after Frank Root had arrived to rescue
the swimmer, someone else called 911 and informed the dispatcher that
help was no longer needed.
Fortunately, this story had a happy ending. But with river
rescue season upon us, the next victim may not be so lucky.
The problem is even more acute when Jim Fansett, Three
Rivers resident deputy, is out of service. If the 911 call is not forwarded
to the Three Rivers Fire Station, then the response time from the Valley
can be 45 minutes to an hour or more.
Tulare County Fire Department personnel say the incident
underscores a communication problem that they know exists in the 911
system. Sandy Owen, president of the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance,
said that the apparent lack of response is cause for concern, but when
the nature of the problem is a medical aid, response in Three Rivers
is actually better now than it has been in the last several years.
Owen said that eventually
Tulare County must adopt a single provider with all paramedics for the
situation to improve. If that were to happen, then an ambulance could
be standing by in Lemon Cove to serve the area’s communities,
including Three Rivers.
For the immediate future, Owen explained, Three Rivers
will continue to be served by the local volunteer ambulance staff. Sometime
later this month, the ambulance service is expected move to its new
quarters in the CDF fire station adjacent to Valley Oak Credit Union.
Owen said Three Rivers actually has more qualified EMT2s
and drivers than they have had in recent years. Of the 14 calls they
received in April, the Three Rivers ambulance was able to roll to 10
of those calls.
Of those 10, all but one were “ALS” calls where
advanced life support systems like an IV were needed.
The problem, Owen said, is on the calls when Three Rivers
is unable to respond.
“With all the
recent cuts in the Exeter ambulance service, some of the Three Rivers
calls must be handled by ambulances from Visalia,” Owen said.
“So we’re right back to the 1950s [prior to the Three Rivers
ambulance] when that happens.”
For Three Rivers patients, who are painfully aware that
the closest hospital is 40 minutes away, that response time could be
the critical difference between life and death.
DSL moves slowly
If you are among the dozens of SBC telephone subscribers waiting for
high-speed Internet service in Three Rivers, you’re going to have
to wait a little longer. According to a reliable source, what’s
delaying the new DSL (digital subscriber line) is a looming strike by
linemen who work the outlying areas of Tulare County, including Three
DSL is any one of a group of technologies that deliver
high-speed LAN and Internet access over telephone lines. Utilizing an
installed copper infrastructure, DSL creates high-speed remote digital
links up to 18,000 feet (approximately three miles) without digital-to-analog
The pending strike, which involves SBC workers being asked
to take cuts in pay and benefits, could be called as early as today
(May 7). If the strike is necessary, supervisors will field local repairs.
“Right now, all
we are taking are service calls for repairs,” said an SBC technician.
“If they try to begin the installs for new DSL orders and then
we went out on strike, it would be a disaster.”
Three Rivers’s wait-listed customers have been told
they will have DSL as soon as the new lines are ready. As early as March,
SBC service representatives have been saying that DSL orders could be
filled at anytime.
“The panels are
in and all the lines have been linked to Woodlake,” said the technician.
“The company has no choice but to wait and see if the workers
If and when DSL finally arrives locally, it will be an
interesting experiment to see if the technology works as it does in
other markets. Technicians say that download time should be many times
faster than dial-up service.
That’s a best-case scenario and depends on line conditions
and the distance that the subscriber lives from the SBC station, located
on Sierra Drive across from the Realty World building. Only those subscribers
who live within three miles of the SBC hub will be able to get the DSL
“There will be
some glitches to work out, but it should be a tremendous improvement
for many Internet users in Three Rivers,” said the technician.
“We are ready to begin installation but really can’t do
anything until we have a contract.”
Flora Bella Farm celebrates 15 years
In 1989, on a beautiful day in May, the Birch family — James,
Bettina, Josh, and Anna — came from Los Angeles to Three Rivers
with a dream in their hearts to farm the land. They had found a beautiful
tract of land in the shadow of Barton Mountain and planted 250 apple
Two years later, Flora Bella Farm became a California Certified
Organic Farm, realizing a professional goal of James and Bettina to
be recognized for providing fresh, handpicked, highly nutritious fruits
and vegetables grown without pesticides or other chemicals. Today, Flora
Bella Farm harvests dozens of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and flowers
and supplies certified organic produce to farmers’ markets, gourmet
restaurants, tourists, and appreciative residents of Three Rivers.
While James spends most of each week making trips to Southern
California to supply restaurants and farmers’ markets, Bettina
manages home and farm, directing her staff in the picking, packing,
and shipping of myriad farm-fresh items.
“Our dream has
been to serve the public fine certified-organic produce, to work in
harmony with the cycles of nature, and to care for this one precious
Earth in a diligent and responsible manner,” said Bettina.
Since 2001, Flora Bella has hosted Slow Food gourmet cooking
events that have showcased Three Rivers and the farm’s products.
Slow Food is an international culinary group that regards food —
its ingredients, production, preparation, and consumption — as
humankind’s greatest glory.
The Birches have also hosted delegations of foreign farmers
and provided a wealth of educational experiences for groups or classes
that want to learn about organic farming.
Erik Oberg, a Sequoia Park ranger and Flora Bella patron,
said that the Sequoia For Youth partnership utilizes Flora Bella to
provide hands-on learning for seventh-grade students.
Flora Bella, students understand the importance of watershed management
by viewing snow-covered peaks and following water downstream to the
crops,” Oberg related. “They learn about making healthy
food choices after harvesting greens and making their own salads.”
This dedication to sharing the dream of the modern organic
farm has a steady stream of customers visiting Flora Bella’s farm
store each Friday and Saturday to stock up on whatever’s in season.
of our family appreciates Flora Bella’s commitment to quality
and integrity,” said Susan Lamberson of Three Rivers. “Eating
fresh, good food makes me feel really good. I love going to the farm
because it is vibrant and unique.”
The Birches hope to
serve the community of Three Rivers for many more years and are grateful
for their supporters.
“At Flora Bella,
I’m always nourished by the farm and the food,” said Rita
Pena, Three Rivers resident. “I get the chance to make the connection
between what I know is healthy for my family and for the planet.”
Woodlake Rodeo 2004 lookin’
be a mighty fine shindig
Hoyle— by the book
Ace-high— first class; respected
Balled up— confused
Bang-up— first rate
Bear sign— donuts
Bend an elbow— have a drink
Best bib and tucker— good clothes
Between hay and grass— not an adult or
a baby; half-grown
Big bug— important person
By hook or crook— any way possible
Clean his/her plow— to get a thorough whipping’
Dinero— Sp., money
Flush— to prosper; rich
Get a wiggle on— to hurry
Greenhorn— inexperienced person
Fandango— Sp., big party; excitement
Fine as cream gravy— Top-notch
Fork over— pay out
Hang on for eight— the full ride; stay
the entire time
Hog-killin’ time— real good time
In apple pie order— top shape
Kick up a row— create a disturbance
Knocked into a cocked hat— rendered useless
Light a shuck— to get out in a hurry
Like a thoroughbred— a gentleman
Makin’ a mash— to impress someone
Ride shank’s mare— to walk
See the elephant— Go to town
Shave tail— green, inexperienced person
Simon pure— the genuine facts
Skedaddle— run like hell
Stand the gaff— take punishment in good
Superintend— oversee, supervise
To the manner born— a natural
These ain’t just folks
shootin’ off their big bazoos. Bein’ around since 1953,
the Woodlake Rodeo folks know how to put on a bang-up show.
After your Arbuckle’s and bear sign, put on your
best bib and tucker to see the elephant and get mixin’ with the
town folk during the main street parade on Saturday morning. There’ll
be floats and bands to kick up a row!
Meet up there with big bug Dick Edmiston, this year’s Grand Marshal,
and see Audra Ainley, the right-purty Rodeo Queen, just like her grandma
and first cuz before her.
And even if you gotta ride shank’s mare, light a
shuck and head north of town right after the parade because the rodeo
ain’t gonna wait for y’all. Out yonder at the Woodlake Lions
Rodeo Grounds there’ll be two whole days of professional rodeo
action with 240 or more cowboys and cowgirls lookin’ to get flush
by makin’ a mash with their professional expertise rangin’
from bull riding to bareback and saddle bronc riding, and steer wrestling,
barrel racing, and calf and team roping.
On Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9, the gates’ll
open at 10 a.m. The deep-pit dinners get served up at 11 a.m. each day
and there’s plenty of other grub, too, like hot dogs, snacks,
‘n’ more as well as plenty of ice-cold liquid to bend an
And it’ll be impossible to miss when the rodeo action
is set to fly out of the chutes. Just keep an eye to the sky about 1:30
p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and don’t get all balled up when you
see a body floatin’ up there.
It’ll be skydiver Mark Schlatter causin’ a
shindy as he jumps out of his World War I biplane with a gigantic American
flag. That’ll be your first clue that a hog-killin’ time
is about to start.
Like a genuine thoroughbred, Chad Nicholson will superintend
and be keeping things runnin’ in apple pie order as he gives the
fans the Simon pure with his long-proven announcer skills.
And Shotgun Rodney Gaston ain’t no shave tail either.
His job as clown and bullrider is to stand the gaff to protect them
competitors as they skedaddle away from getting’ their plows cleaned.
And, to make sure y’all have a real hot time, ol’
Shotgun’ll be jumpin’ through hoops of fire on his Brahma
bull. Yep, you heard right; ain’t no scuttlebutt here.
The ace-high rodeo will also feature nationally-known bullfighters
Colby Gines and Jess Griffin who’ll bulldoze them bags of beef
by hook or crook to keep them riders from bein’ knocked into a
And the purty gals of the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls and the Visalia Rockettes
will demonstrate their precision and trick-riding skills.
The popular mutton-bustin’ contest will also be held
each day for those between hay and grass. Youngsters just need to climb
on the back of a sheep and make like a bullrider and hang on.
Any half-pint between five and eight years old and under
65 pounds is welcome to compete in this event. A champion silver buckle
will be awarded to each day’s winner.
This rodeo’s according to Hoyle and fine as cream
gravy. To get tickets to the fandango, hustle to Woodlake Hardware before
the action starts Saturday for the presale price of $8 for adults and
$4 for kids ages seven to 12 (six and under won’t cost a wooden
Tickets at the gate’ll cost a bit more dinero ($12;
$6), but still worth every piece of gold and silver to see these pros
to the manner born. Besides, all them buffalo nickels benefit the Woodlake
Lions Club, who sponsor the whole kit and caboodle and fork over the
cash to worthwhile community projects year in, year out, just like they’ve
done for more than a half-century.
For more information, give a holler to Lions head honcho
John Wood, 799-0990.
of India, Nepal
On Thursday, May 13, Pam Beck, having recently returned from India and
Nepal, will present an exhibition of Buddhist/Hindu thankas and provide
a video presentation of “Karmapa: The Lion Begins to Roar.”
The event will be held at Cort Gallery in Three Rivers, beginning at
7 p.m., and is free and open to the public.
ON EXHIBIT: The thankas are hand-painted-on-canvas,
cloth-framed icons of Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Some examples of
thankas on display include “Buddha’s Life Story,”
“Wheel of Life,” “Manjushree Mandala,” “Green
Tara,” “White Tara,” “Kali Durga,” and
“Bagra Swato Shakti.” There is also a large selection of
batiks exemplifying the life of Bhagavan Khrishna and other Hindu deities.
The thankas exhibition will remain at Cort Gallery through next Friday
ON FILM: While in Tashi Jong, India, Pam
had an unexpected encounter with His Holiness Urgyen Trinley Dorje,
the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. He was at the Lama Dances, which, this year,
were the once-in-every-12-years celebration.
The Karmapas have been the supreme heads of the unbroken
Kayyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism since the first Karmapa in the 12th
century. Since his enthronement in 1992, Gyalwa Karmapa has blessed
millions of people who have traveled from throughout the world to see
him at his residence, the Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet.
Pam procured digital film footage of the first documented
Dharma teaching given by His Holiness Karmapa on July 7, 1999, at his
The Buddha Shakyamuni predicted that 2,000 years after
his death the lion-voiced Bodhissattva Karmapa would appear in this
world. It was said he would benefit many beings who will attain peace
just by seeing, hearing, or remembering him.
Included in the video are rare scenes of the Karmapa performing
the Lama Dances, giving empowerments, and many other Buddha activities
of a fully-realized Bodhissattva who has voluntarily come into the world
to alleviate the sufferings of beings.
Bring a pillow for seating during the video. For more information,
call Pam, 565-3008.