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In the News - Friday, SEPTEMBER 30, 2005

 


Summer reflections

and a future relocation

Delaware North’s new

general manager settles in

   In the aftermath of the sixth summer of Delaware North Parks Services in Sequoia National Park, Jamie Hodgson, the concessionaire’s new general manager, reflected on his first busy summer season in the local park. Hodgson assumed the company’s top job this past February and is in charge of the daily operations of an exclusive Sequoia Park contract that includes the 102-room Wuksachi Village, a store and deli at Lodgepole, and the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp.
   Hodgson is no stranger to the concessions business or busy national parks. His most recent job with Delaware North was overseeing several retail operations at Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim.
   Grand Canyon is one of the busiest national parks and annually hosts nearly four times as many visitors as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks combined. Even though Hodgson was impressed with the beauty of the canyon, he perceived the Sequoia job as a chance to branch out in his own career and oversee a more diverse operation.

  “In this job, there are more opportunities to interact with customers in the lodging and retail sectors,” Hodgson said.
   The interaction with customers and the development of marketing strategies are what his training and experience have prepared him to do, Hodgson said. After growing up in West Fargo, N.D., he received a B.A. degree in hotel and restaurant management from North Dakota State in 1995.

  “My first job was for another concessions company in Glacier National Park, where I managed seven hotels,” he said. “In 2000, I went to work for Delaware North in Yosemite.”
   While there, Hodgson managed the Yosemite Lodge complex, where he worked for two years until the Grand Canyon position came along. In Yosemite, he also got to see how the Ahwahnee Hotel catered to its guests in the setting of one of the great, traditional national park hotels.
   After just 10 years on his career path, Hodgson is now married, living in Visalia, and has two daughters and a son, ages nine months to nine years. He said he plans to stay at the Sequoia job for a “long time.”
   Hodgson says that since Wuksachi opened in 1999, each year has gotten progressively better for the company.
   What DNPS is doing now, he said, is pinpointing where and how they can improve.

  “The shoulder-season months of May and September are a lot busier recently, so now we are looking at April and October,” Hodgson said. “We’ve benefited when Three Rivers [lodging] is full, and when we are full, we send business to Three Rivers. It’s reciprocal.”
   A number of new changes are in the works, like the company’s impending move of its Three Rivers office next year to the Visalia Chamber of Commerce’s building now under construction in the downtown area.
   Hodgson says he is convinced that the new location will help tap a market of visitors from the Central Valley, many of whom have never even seen the Giant Forest.

  “Nothing will change relative to our relations with the Three Rivers community,” Hodgson said. “I will still be spending at least three days a week in the park and we will continue to have a presence in Three Rivers.”

Orange’ya glad it’s back?

Giant balloon flies again

   Hodgson succeeded Tom McFadden, who had been Sequoia’s general manager throughout the construction in 1998 and opening of Wuksachi Village the following year.
   McFadden is still working for Delaware North Parks Services, overseeing the company’s concessions in Yellowstone National Park.
   When the first big orange balloon that flew above the Orange Tree Restaurant in Lemon Cove disappeared sometime during the night of Sunday, Aug. 28, nearly everyone who stopped in or drove by on Highway 198 noticed. That’s because the 12-foot in diameter, helium-filled balloon flying 100 feet into the sky had become quite an attraction.
   Bob McKellar, owner of the eatery and produce mart that opened this past summer, put the balloon up to focus attention on his grand opening that was held in early September. Some person or persons set the first balloon loose by climbing on the roof and cutting the tether.
   Although a $100 reward was offered for information about the act of vandalism, the location of the first balloon or how it disappeared is still not known. Not to be deterred, the owner ordered a second balloon to be custom-made and it has flown proudly above the property since September 16.

  “People really missed seeing that big orange up there, and it helped our customers to remember to stop by and see us,” said Juanita Garcia, the Orange Tree’s manager.
   Juanita said that on windy or stormy days, as a precaution, they now take the balloon down. Weather permitting, she said, the big orange balloon will continue to fly high to grasp the attention of all passersby.

Fire season not yet over


   As evidenced this week by the massive wildland fire in the San Fernando Valley hills, California could be in for a typically nasty fall fire season.
   The unusually wet spring and summer brought bountiful vegetation that could make for serious fires under the right conditions of temperature and wind.
   Campers and hunters should be extra vigilant about extinguishing their campfires that, currently, are only permitted in developed campgrounds as fire restrictions remain in effect on public lands.
   These restrictions include no wood fires, barbecues, or smoking outdoors on public lands below 6,000 feet except in developed campgrounds. By adhering to these seasonal rules, the risk of an accidental human-caused fire is greatly reduced.
   The restrictions are in effect on National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management lands until further notice.
   For California property owners, a new DVD entitled “California Living: Fire Safe — Controlling Nature’s Wrath” is available that offers motivation and advice on how to create defensible space around property, identify potential fire hazards, and create a fire-safe landscape.
   Viewers will also learn how neighbors can help neighbors minimize wildfire threats through the work of community groups.
Hosts Vicki Liviakis, a wildfire survivor and television news reporter, and Craig Miller, a county sheriff’s search-and-rescue unit member, offer personal accounts to illustrate practical tips and helpful instructions on how to achieve these fire-safe goals.
   The production and distribution of this 26-minute DVD was funded by the nonprofit California Fire Safe Council, FEMA, and other organizations. To order a free copy, call the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Visalia station, 732-5954.

Red Cross needs volunteers

   The Tulare-Kings chapter of the American Red Cross is currently in need of volunteers, whether for a single event or several times a month.
   As citizens have witnessed during the past month, American Red Cross volunteers are often the first responders to assist victims of disasters. In addition to hurricanes, volunteers assist victims of flood, fire, earthquakes, and more.
   Locally, volunteers provide Community Disaster Education and first aid, CPR, swimming and water safety, and babysitter preparedness.
   The Red Cross also needs volunteers to translate for non-English speakers, nurses who can offer medical care, and office workers with knowledge of accounting, finance, public relations, website development and maintenance, administration, and information technology.
   For more information, call the Tulare-Kings Chapter of the American Red Cross, 732-6436, or drop in at the office at 505 W. Main St., Visalia.

Luncheon launches new

Woman’s Club season

   The Three Rivers Woman’s Club opens the fall season with its annual introductory luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at noon, at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. There is no charge for the luncheon, which is open to all women of the community.
   Woman’s Club President Anne Hayes extends a special invitation to newcomers and stay-at-home mothers to attend and get acquainted. This year, babysitting is being offered for the first time to enable mothers with young children at home to socialize, have fun, and extend their circle of acquaintances.

  “I joined the Woman’s Club because I didn’t know anyone outside my peer group and I wanted to meet new people,” Anne said. “This is a very enjoyable group and a great way to participate in the community and make new friends. We hope to welcome lots of new faces at the October luncheon.”
   The Woman’s Club has been a center of society in Three Rivers since its inception in 1916.
   Meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month from October through June. A social interlude is followed by a short meeting and a program of entertainment.
   The club is both social and philanthropic. Through their efforts this year, $20,000 was donated to worthy causes throughout the area, including scholarships, the Community Food Pantry, Comfort for Kids, Children’s Hospital Central California, Kaweah Delta’s Sequoia Cancer Center, and area schools.
   The club’s income is derived principally from The Thingerie, an enormously popular thrift shop established in 1980. Club members have the opportunity to support the community by working at The Thingerie three hours a month if they choose to do so. It also provides a great way to meet new people.


HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Tigers dominate Spartans

   After searching for a spark in the first two non-league road games, the Woodlake Tigers (1-2) used last week’s home opener to put it all together and steamroll the Strathmore Spartans (2-2), 39-7. It was a total team effort and was Woodlake’s best performance since the post-season in 2003.

  “We ran 65 plays and had 465 yards of offense,” said an elated Coach Costa after the game. “When we play that kind of football, we can beat anybody.”
   Woodlake’s offense was like a thundering herd in the second half, but it was the defense at the outset that set the tone. In the first series, Steve Tindle, a junior tackle, made two aggressive stops as the swarming Tigers made a statement: Not in our house!
   After a Spartan interception of a Woodlake pass, junior QB Ryan Baker, in only his second game this season, settled down and found some time to throw to his talented receivers. After a key catch and another run by senior all-purpose back Daniel Tiller, Baker found senior wide receiver Jose Marquez open in the middle for a 36-yard scoring strike and Woodlake led 6-0.
   On the ensuing drive, Baker completed key passes to sophomore John Gomez and senior Souk Stephens. A six-yard TD run by junior Carlos Acosta gave the Tigers a 13-0 halftime lead.
   But the Spartans refused to roll over and play dead, and they scored on their first second-half series, trailing for a time by six, 13-7.
   What happened on the next series was the key to winning the game and showed Woodlake’s fans that this year’s team has character. When an opponent gets on the scoreboard, good teams find a way to answer.
   For these Tigers, Tiller’s 49-yard run was the “answer” and the offense quickly reclaimed the momentum just when it looked like the game might turn toward the visitors. A couple of plays later, Baker scrambled into the end zone and the Tigers led 19-7.
   Carlos Acosta made his second interception of the game with 1:31 left in the third quarter and the rout was on. In the fourth quarter, seven different backs carried the ball as Woodlake moved the ball at will up and down the field.

  “On that power series from the 11-yard line, they knew we were going to give the ball to [Aaron] Payne, but they couldn’t stop us,” said Coach Costa. “These guys all played great and showed what we are really capable of doing.”
   On the night, Tiller finished with a game-high 156 yards rushing as his mates scored the six touchdowns. Souk Stephens finished with 88 yards on the ground, one of those touchdowns, and caught some key passes coming out of the backfield.
   Woodlake had little time to enjoy the spoils of victory. On Monday, it was back to practice to prepare for tonight’s home game featuring a bigger and more physical Dinuba team in the East Sequoia League opener.
   In the JV game, a Tiger goal-line stand prevented a two-point conversion as time expired preserving a 21-20 victory. The win raised the junior varsity Tigers’ season record to 2-1.

 
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