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In the News - Friday, SEPTEMBER 28, 2007

Impaired driver

destroys local landmark

   California Highway Patrol (CHP) statistics tell a grim story. Most accidents that occur after midnight involve a driver that has been drinking or is under the influence of drugs.
   DUI (driving under the influence) was what the CHP officer at the scene indicated as the “primary factor” in a tragic crash that occurred at the now-closed Indian Restaurant shortly after 3 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23. A more complete report of the accident, pending blood test results, is expected to be made available today (Friday, Sept. 28).
   From information compiled at the scene, an 18-year-old female was driving a 2001 Honda Civic westbound on Sierra Drive. Evidently, the Three Rivers teen failed to negotiate the curve in the roadway, crossed the eastbound lane, and entered the Indian property.
   It appears that the vehicle struck a gravel pile, became airborne, and then crashed into the huge redwood slab that is a carved Indian-head statue, which was mounted on a concrete pedestal. The vehicle suffered major damage to three sides and was a total loss.
   The driver was conscious after being extricated from the wreck and did not appear to be seriously injured. She was transported via the Three Rivers Ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital.
   Though the “Indian” has been closed since 2002, the current owners, Chad and Fred Tafti, have been remodeling the restaurant property in hopes of re-opening the eatery that operated as the Indian Restaurant for more than two decades.
   The original Indian restaurant on the property was opened by Bobby George in 1977. After George died in 1996, the restaurant and bar was operated by Gerald Loverin until his death in 2000. It was purchased by the Burlesons in that same year. In 2002, it was closed prior to its acquisition by the Tafti brothers.
   While the popular watering hole and eatery has remained closed, the distinctive sign and Indian head are a tangible link with the property’s history and a Three Rivers roadside landmark. The restaurant sign, which had been set up in front of the Indian head, was not damaged in the crash.
   Until the reconstruction of the Indian Restaurant is completed, the owners have agreed to store the sign for safekeeping at the new Discoveries West Gallery in the Pizza Factory complex on Sierra Drive. The sign, which was created by Sequoia National Park painter Milford Cook, will be exhibited at the gallery as part of a display telling the history of the property.
   The large redwood slab carving, which was damaged in the crash, will be removed from the site so that it can be prepared for restoration.

  “Our goal is trying to put back together as much of the original carving as possible and then repair the parts that were damaged,” said Chad Tafti. “We’re committed to preserving the landmark sign and Indian head statue and to keep it as part of the new restaurant.”
   No estimated value has been put on the redwood slab and sign but Tafti said that in a previous listing for the property the pieces were valued at $70,000. John McWilliams, a curator at Discoveries West Gallery and antiques appraiser, said that to the Three Rivers history buff the redwood slab Indian and its accompanying sign are priceless.

Ambulance service to be

addressed at town meeting

   After a summer hiatus, the Three Rivers Town Hall Meeting series resumes its monthly schedule on Monday, October 1. The meeting will be held at the local Memorial Building from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and conducted by Tom Sparks on behalf of the Three Rivers Village Foundation.
   Highlighting a busy agenda are remarks by Supervisor Allen Ishida and a presentation by Sandy Owen on the feasibility of a countywide ambulance service.
   According to Sandy, who has been an integral part of the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance service for three decades, under the present system small providers like Three Rivers cannot keep up with the demand for emergency services.

  “We need to implement a countywide system that would ensure that an ambulance with paramedics is stationed in Three Rivers,” Sandy said recently.
   Sandy said that Three Rivers is facing an emergency care crisis because now there is a declining number of trained volunteers, and the handful of people they do have are often unavailable. She says that on many calls, local patients have to wait for the Exeter ambulance, and that extra response time will inevitably make the difference in saving a life.
   Supervisor Ishida will be on hand to lend a county perspective on the ambulance issue and also furnish an update on his efforts to secure more funding to eradicate marijuana growing in the foothills and on public lands.
   Mark Tilchen, president of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce will also speak about plans for an upcoming event in Three Rivers that will showcase area businesses and nonprofits. The chamber is also planning to attend a series of travel conventions this winter to help market the area to larger tour operators from Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
   Tom Sparks said he also has an update on the scenic highway designation for Highway 198. A draft of the corridor protection plan was recently completed by Ann Chapman, county planner. That document should be ready for public review in the next two months.

  “The only thing new in the corridor plan is some definitions and policy relative to view sheds,” Sparks said. “Three Rivers will have ample opportunity to discuss all the planning regulations and options outlined in the draft at another town meeting scheduled for November.”
   For more information on the upcoming meeting or how to get involved with the Three Rivers Village Foundation, please call Tom Sparks at 561-0406.

Woodlake High:
Parents can connect,

students have daily library access

   Now parents can check on their Woodlake High School student’s academic progress, attendance, and discipline daily through the new Parent Connect program available online.
   This new feature will allow parents to keep track of their student’s progress without having to call the school and ask for weekly progress reports. The site will also allow the parent to see their child’s immunization records, transcripts, GPA, and a list of teachers’ email addresses.
   To sign up for this program, go to Click on the Parent Connect button in the center of the page. Click on Registration, complete the required information, then submit.
   In about two days, applicants will receive via email a user name and password (the password may be changed by going to settings).
   If you do not have a computer at home you may have the information sent to your home, then come to the high school to access the Internet.
   The Woodlake Library is now open everyday after school until 9 p.m. for parents and students to work on computers, read, or do homework. This service is available through a grant that the YMCA received for high school students.

  “The library will be a great place for Three Rivers kids to stay dry and warm while waiting for rides and activities,” said Sally Pace, acting principal of Woodlake High School.
   In order for students or parents to take part in the Library after-hours program, parents must fill out an information packet. This packet can be picked up in the WHS Library, WHS main office, or downloaded off the WHS website ( from the YMCA tab.
   For more information about Parent Connect or the YMCA Library Program, call the high school, 564-3307, or the Woodlake YMCA office, 564-7114.

‘Concert’ performers, venue ready to shine

   After a week of busy activity, which included some frantic scurrying to protect props and equipment from last weekend’s rain, everything is finally in place for this year’s concert.
   Dan Brummitt, audiophile extraordinaire, has fine-tuned the new sound system. Ken Elias, resident pianist, composer and jack-of-all-trades, has installed new stage decking for Meaghan Swinney’s modern dance routine. Mickey and Ramona Walker have expanded the concert parking area, and Paul Sprague has graded the road smooth as a pool table.
   Artists and performers have been arriving all day, unloading instruments and music stands, rehearsing, testing the microphones and sound levels. Actors Laurie Walters and John Slade have hung up their costumes and set out their makeup for John’s award-winning distillation of Shakespeare’s King Lear.
   Ken Elias has tweaked and fiddled with the piano for his expressive rendering of Bach’s French Suite. Jeff Seaward has the fabulous College of the Sequoias Chamber Singers as ready as they’ve ever been.
   And this year’s featured performer, actor/singer/songwriter Ronny Cox, arrives tonight with his band, some members who are coming from as far away as Austin, Texas.
   Ronny played not long ago in Boston, where the Boston Globe described his performance as “charismatic, humorous, and insightful.”
   Not least, the weather is cooperating, too. Saturday promises to be one of those gorgeous, relaxed autumn days — not too hot, not too cool, just right, clear and beautiful. It will be a fine day to spread a blanket on a shaded lawn, open a picnic basket, then sit back and enjoy the show.
   Curtain time is 2:30 pm, so try to arrive a bit early. Turn left on Dinely Drive, cross the bridge, bear right, then follow the “Concert” signs.
   Bill Haxton, host of the annual Concert on the Grass, contributed this article.

Deck the halls with holiday wreaths

   The seventh-grade class at Three Rivers School is currently selling fresh Holiday Evergreens as a fundraising project. The wreaths are from Sherwood Farms, located in the Pacific Northwest.
   The seventh-graders will be pre-selling the items until Saturday, Nov. 3. The students will begin going door to door today (Friday, Sept. 28) to take orders.
   Then, on weekends in October and November, the students will be at the Village Shopping Center to continue taking orders for the holiday greenery. All orders will be delivered during the first week of December.
   Proceeds from the sale will assist the Class of 2009 in raising funds for their eighth-grade trip to San Francisco.
   For assistance in ordering or more information, call Dyann Graber, 561-4318, or Laura Harrison, 561-2818.

Around Town

In the Air Force
   Sam Basham of Three Rivers graduated from bootcamp last week at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He will remain at Lackland until the end of October to participate in a preparatory course as a SERE (Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion) training instructor.
   In November, he will begin the SERE Training Instructor Course at the primary training location at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Wash. The five-and-a-half-month program is designed to teach future survival instructors how to instruct aircrew members to survive in any environment.
   The course includes instruction in basic survival, medical, navigation skills, overland travel, evasion, arctic survival, teaching techniques, rough land evacuation, coastal survival, tropics/river survival, and desert survival.
   Sam graduated from Exeter High in June 2007. He is the son of Bob and Maureen Basham of Three Rivers.

Wine glass
   Innovative Structural Glass Inc. of Three Rivers has once again been recognized by Glass Magazine by receiving a 2007 Crystal Achievement Award. Out of 95 nominations, just 25 were ultimately honored.
   ISG received an award for “Most innovative interior glass application, small or medium company.” Last year, the company, whose president and CEO is Manuel Marinos of Three Rivers, received an award for its “decorative glass” design of a fountain of chocolate at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
   This year’s award-winning creation by ISG is a 14-foot-tall revolving wine tower at the Broadmoor’s Summit Restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colo. It’s conical shape was inspired by nearby Pike’s Peak.
   According to the magazine, the rotating tower is flanked by two glass-walled, air-conditioned wine cellars and holds 500 bottles of wine valued at more than $4 million.
   In other Marinos family news, Tiffany, the 19-year-old daughter of Manuel Marinos and his wife, Cindy, was named Player of the Week earlier this month by the Golden State Athletic Conference.
Tiffany is a sophomore at Fresno Pacific University and a member of the school’s number-one-ranked volleyball team.

Water works
   U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rangers from Lake Kaweah and Lake Success (Springville) greeted visitors during the 2007 Tulare County Fair.

  Tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 29), rangers will congregate at Lake Kaweah to organize volunteer troops during Public Lands Day. As the name suggests, the public is invited to participate to clean up, fix up, and spruce up the local recreation area.

Local business gives back
   Scott Mullikin, owner of Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs, presented Mark Tilchen, Sequoia Natural History Association executive director, and Sue Sherwood, Three Rivers School superintendent/principal, with checks of $150 each.

  During the past three years — during the gift shop’s grand opening and subsequent anniversary celebrations — proceeds from retail sales have been donated to SNHA and TRUS.

  “I have always found joy in nature and the arts,” said Scott. “I hope that by donating to these fine organizations, I can help other people, especially our youth, discover the same.”

Prize patrol
   Two bronze sculptures by the late Lidabelle Wylie are among the dozens of items to be auctioned for the benefit of the Three Rivers Historical Society at the All-Town Dinner Dance on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Lions Arena.

  Advance tickets are $15 for adults; $20 at the gate.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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