1995 ~ March 2005
the past decade,
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In the News -
Friday, APRIL 22, 2005
For a community event to enjoy the popularity and have the
kind of staying power of the Three Rivers Lions Team Roping, somebody
has to be doing something right. In truth, it’s a whole group of
folks, but mainly it’s the 80 or so Lions who cater to the ropers
and parlay this weekend’s festivities into its biggest fundraiser
of the year.
“It seems like
the Lions Club is really growing because we have more people willing to
lend a hand to help this year than ever before,” said Nancy Brunson,
Lions Roping chairman. “We even have folks showing up who aren’t
even Lions, but just want to get involved for this special event.”
Brunson and her Lion colleagues will need all the help and
cooperation they can muster from the volunteers and contestants because
for this year’s Roping there are some landmark changes. For the
first time in its 56-year history, the Three Rivers Roping will be a four-day
Business owners like the new format because the earlier quitting
time each evening will encourage ropers and their families to head on
into town to eat, shop, and have more leisure time to see what Three Rivers
has to offer.
Van Bailey, past roping chairman for the local Lions Club,
said the economic impact of the event is difficult to say exactly, but
shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“When you get right
down to it, it’s for charity, but just the presence of these ropers
and their families means thousands of dollars for the Three Rivers economy,”
Bailey, who in the 1990s was instrumental in preserving the
event when it was teetering on extinction, tells everyone he meets in
the roping world:
never been to Three Rivers, make this year your first. The money is as
green as the hills,” he explains.
Of course, it’s about a whole lot more than money.
Three Rivers is one attractive setting, seeing old friends, preserving
the cowboy way, and just plain enjoying the riders and their horses, are
part of the weekend’s tradition. Roping has actually become a sport
of choice for many families who have returned to country living, own horses,
and want to share some quality time with folks who have similar interests.
The sport itself evolved from a standard ranching activity
when a couple of cowboys turned roping the front and hind ends of a steer
for branding or doctoring into a competition. Nobody knows for sure where
“roping” first started but, recently, the sport has exploded
to a point where ropers of varying skill levels — professional and
amateur — are often in the arena during “go rounds”
of the same events.
LEARNING THE ROPES
Team roping competition, now one of six standard rodeo events,
begins with a steer in a chute and ropers on horseback to either side.
A run begins with a steer being released from the chute and given a head
start down the arena of about 10 to 15 feet.
At this point, the ropers give chase and close what is known
as the “barrier distance.” The first roper (the header) comes
up on the steer’s left side and, throwing the loop, ropes the animal
around the horns or neck.
Next, the header secures the steer by wrapping the rope remaining
in his hand around the saddle-horn (called dallying). After making these
dallies, the rider then steers his or her mount to the left across the
arena, pulling the steer along behind.
It’s now the job of the partner (the heeler) to follow
with steer, approach from behind, and throw a loop so that it encircles
both of the steer’s hind feet. A great deal of skill and timing
are required to throw a loop, so ropers must practice long and hard to
perfect a winning technique.
All of the action in a team-roping run usually occurs in
less than 15 seconds with the very best partners doing it in approximately
five seconds. It’s all about time, as the team that performs their
job the fastest wins the event.
Time is called by an arena judge (the flagger) who signals
the timekeeper to stop time when both ropes are taut and each roper’s
horse is facing the steer. Penalties may be added for false starts or
if the heeler loops only one foot. “No-times” result when
one of the ropers miss their mark altogether.
Most sanctioned events like the Three Rivers Roping are three,
four or six-steer averages, meaning that a winning team must catch up
to six consecutive steers and cumulatively do it faster than any other
team in the competition. If a team misses just one steer they finish out
of the money. Those teams that rope their steers faster than anybody else
can win a lot of money and maybe even a trophy saddle or a coveted buckle.
But be forewarned. It’s a rush — racing headlong
down an arena after a fast-moving steer and a successful run or two can
turn into a lifelong addiction.
Roping is the only rodeo sport not limited by age and encompassing
the essence of the cowboy way — riding, roping, and sharing time
recalling one’s exploits on horseback.
The Three Rivers Team Roping is a very special social gathering
that celebrates the American desire to compete and win.
For the ropers, it’s a simple matter of being the mostest
with the fastest and, best of all, it’s the local Lions doing what
they do so well for the Three Rivers community.
When opening a business in Three Rivers, the best-laid plans
seem to take a little longer to reach fruition. This is especially the
case when trying to time a grand opening with the busy visitor season,
which runs from April to September.
Consider the popular coffee and book emporium in Three Rivers
— The Cabin.
The planning, the building, the furnishing, and, finally,
getting the place open took several years of effort and substantial capital
investment. Within two years of its highly anticipated opening in May
2003, the property was recently placed on the market, and after only two
weeks, is “sale pending.”
Although no details about the sale have been made public,
initially some real estate agents were skeptical whether the asking price
of $485,000 could “pencil out” as a business opportunity.
Most patrons of The Cabin would agree that there is ample value in the
riverfront business property.
The owners, Ken Woodruff and wife Bette Bardeen, worked tirelessly
to develop a business that the community has welcomed with open arms.
But like any successful business in fickle Three Rivers, to do it right,
the yeoman’s share of the work has to be done by the owners. For
The Cabin, there was much accomplished but apparently the right time to
step aside is now.
For others in Three Rivers, the dream of owning a local business
is only beginning. Anthony Moreno, who relocated with his wife from Seal
Beach, had hoped to open an Internet café in the building next
to Chumps Videos and DVDs. That building, he said, won’t be ready
for at least another two months, so he’s going to move into the
former location of Heart’s Desire near the Main Fork Bistro.
Moreno said he sees his business, which will provide computer
expertise and Internet services, as vital to locals and visitors. He says
that getting Three Rivers some exposure on the Internet will help the
entire business community and his café will be a friendly place
where visitors can stop by to access local information.
a sign hanging out front that will read ‘Tourist Information,’”
Moreno said. “What I don’t know or have in the shop I’ll
be able to guide the user through the resources available on the ‘net.
I want to send my customers to local businesses.”
For locals, Moreno will also offer computer repair, tutorials, and custom
“I think the key
for all our businesses is in developing more links to potential customers,”
Moreno said. “Helping our businesses develop these resources will
be my community service.”
Like the proverbial prodigal son, Mike McCoy, a former longtime
resident of Three Rivers, returns to Three Rivers after a brief respite
in Redondo Beach. Mike is working to develop the property adjacent to
the former Three Rivers Fire Station.
Last year, he sold the thriving Texaco mini-mart business
in Lemon Cove after transforming that property and is ready to reinvest
in a retail hardware store.
the research looking at the demographics from Tehachapi to Oakhurst, and
Three Rivers can support a full-service hardware and supply outlet,”
McCoy said. “I think local customers will appreciate the competitive
prices, and what we don’t have, they can order right from the store’s
McCoy says he will have the support of “the best co-op”
in the industry. He brings business experience and capital to the venture
and says he hopes to interest a younger partner who one day might want
to be the sole owner.
Tom Sparks of the Three Rivers Village Foundation reports
that new businesses and old businesses alike will be interested to watch
the progress on several fronts, including the development of a new “Village
Center,” a scenic highway designation for parts of Highway 198,
and especially the Three Rivers portion of the Community Plan. County
Supervisor Allen Ishida said earlier this week that he plans to press
staff for action on a separate planning element for Three Rivers.
“Three Rivers is
unique because of its geographical location,” Ishida said. “It’s
going to take some specific ordinances to deal with the planning issues
that are important to the community.”
Ishida said another edition of the monthly Town Meeting is in the works
for May. A date and time for the upcoming meeting will be announced soon.
At Tuesday’s regular board meeting, Tulare County Supervisors
finally agreed with California Department of Forestry (CDF) on a plan
to meet a shortfall in this year’s budget and also to pay for fire
protection in the upcoming fiscal year. After a lengthy negotiating process,
the plan reduces services in certain outlying areas by eliminating at
least 15 full-time firefighters at five stations — Visalia, Dinuba,
Woodville, Doyle Colony, and Lemon Cove.
Two battalion chief positions were also eliminated. The employees
who lost their local funding will be transferred to other CDF positions.
The two chiefs will remain in the county as “training captains”
and also funded by the state.
As soon as Tuesday, April 26, Dave Hillman, Tulare County
fire chief, said the agency will replace those relocated firefighters
with paid on-call firefighters. As volunteers, on-call personnel do not
monitor emergencies at the fire station but routinely take calls at home
or at the workplace.
According to a local emergency volunteer, the closure will
add more response time to Lemon Cove calls, and in the busy fire season,
could also impact Three Rivers. At Tuesday’s meeting, Dave Spooner,
a CDF firefighter who addressed the meeting, warned against a dependence
on the paid-call personnel. Spooner said some volunteers are unavailable
for a percentage of their calls and that can make the critical difference
in a medical emergency.
Personnel from the Three Rivers Fire Station routinely are
first-responders on any local calls arriving at most addresses within
10 minutes. If calls were referred only to volunteers, the response time
on the average would be 20 to 25 minutes at minimum.
The restructuring probably won’t affect Three Rivers
unless multiple calls come in at the same time. Lemon Cove area residents,
though their station receives only a small number of calls, are faced
with lengthier response times now.
Eric Coyne, spokesperson for the board, said the Supervisors
are taking a hard look at restructuring the county’s fire department.
The newly signed agreement will allow the county to save $250,000 this
year and $1.5 million next, he said.
The board is also committed to exhaust all the options before
they seek ways to enhance revenue or vote for a tax increase. Coyne also
said that even though they downsized five stations they actually upsized
“We [the board]
were able to get some cost reduction in the new plan with no actual loss
in manpower,” Coyne said. “This is not a fix but a short-term
restructuring that down the road will provide even better fire protection.”
in Three Rivers
For the first time in Tulare County, Three Rivers voters
will be treated to a new voting experience when they cast their ballots
in the June 7 election.
The registered voters in the Three Rivers Memorial District
will be having a special parcel tax measure election on Tuesday, June
7. The Tulare County Elections Office will be using some new voting technology
in this election called Direct Record Electronic (DREs) units or what
is commonly referred to as “touch-screen voting.”
Coincidentally, the new machines are provided by Sequoia
Voting Systems. The company is based in Oakland.
After the events surrounding the 2000 presidential election
(remember the “chads”), the federal government passed the
“Help America Vote Act,” which adds some requirements to the
voting process and allocates funds to purchase upgraded voting equipment.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2006, every polling place in the country will be required
to have at least one voting unit to allow visually-impaired people to
vote in private.
Currently, the only technology that will allow this is the
touch-screen, which can be supplemented with an audio headset. Tulare
County’s current optical scan system does not meet this new requirement
and the Registrar of Voters office is reviewing the options.
Touch-screen technology is similar to a bank’s ATM,
department store gift registry computers, or self-checkout registers at
the grocery store. The touch-screen voting units are very easy to use
and have many benefits to voters:
races that have no votes in them in case they were skipped by mistake.
allow a vote for more candidates than are allowed in a race.
—The print size
of the text is larger than a printed ballot so reading is easier.
—A voter can choose
either English or Spanish text.
—With the touch
of a finger, a vote can be changed or a mistake corrected prior to telling
the unit to “Cast Ballot.”
—The voting can
be reviewed on the screen and on a printed log.
—Similar to the
current system, the results will be tabulated throughout the day so election-night
results will still be timely.
“Although we believe
touch screens are easy to use, accurate, and secure, we do, however, understand
that some voters may not feel comfortable with the idea of voting on a
touch-screen unit and may want a paper ballot instead,” said Jerry
Messinger, county Registrar of Voters.
Paper ballots will not be available at the polls, he explained.
But if a voter does not want to vote on the touch-screen unit, paper ballots
are available via the absentee-ballot process.
To obtain an absentee ballot, a voter needs to simply complete
the absentee application on the back of their sample ballot booklet, mail
it in, and an official paper absentee ballot will be mailed.
“On the other hand,
any permanent absentee voter that has already been mailed an absentee
ballot, but wants to try the new touch-screen voting equipment for this
election can take their unvoted absentee ballots to the polling place
on Election Day and surrender it to the precinct board,” said Messinger.
“They will then be able to vote on the touch-screen voting unit.”
Questions, comments, or concerns may be directed to the Registrar
of Voters office at 733-6275. For those who want to see a demonstration
of how the touch screens work prior to the election, go to the following
REGISTER TO VOTE
The only issue on the June 7 ballot in Three Rivers is a
proposal that is being reintroduced by the Three Rivers Memorial District
board of directors to levy an annual tax of $23 per parcel that would
provide much-needed funds for the maintenance and operation of the half-century-old
Veterans Memorial Building.
The last day to register to vote in the June 7 election is
Tuesday, May 23. Voter-registration cards are available at post offices,
libraries, and other locations throughout Tulare County.
Absentee ballots can be requested by mail from Monday, May
9, to Tuesday, May 31.
To obtain a mail-in registration card or to request an absentee
ballot, call 733-6275 or go online to:
By Melanie Baer-Keeley
This is the second installment of three about the local
management of non-native weeds.
The best way to manage invasive non-native weeds is to recognize
potential weed problems early in seedling stages; controlling them before
they mature, reproduce, and spread; then monitoring them to prevent re-infestation.
In our wild environment, it often seems difficult and overwhelming
to control invasive plants, but there are some great resources available
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a vital
local agency. They partner with other organizations to help conserve,
maintain, and improve natural resources and environment on private lands.
One of the community projects spearheaded by the NRCS has
been the removal of Yellow Starthistle, as well as Giant Reed in Three
Rivers and throughout the county. A continuing effort that also involves
the Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers as well as many volunteers,
it is making a significant impact in the reduction of these noxious weeds.
NRCS offers the public educational materials and assists
in pest identification, in addition to providing removal, monitoring,
and control recommendations on these weeds and other pests.
In conjunction with the Tulare County U.C. Cooperative Extension,
NRCS sponsors a low-cost herbicide-spraying program, made available to
the public to curtail outbreaks of Yellow Starthistle. Future plans are
to expand this program to target Italian Thistle.
Conservationists Elizabeth Palmer and Joe Williams of NRCS
are the public contacts for NRCS and can be reached at 734-8732, ext.
3, or via email at: Elizabeth.Palmer@ca.usda.gov.
The U.C. Cooperative Extension, whose goal is to “…to
provide the citizens of Tulare County access to University of California
educational and research programs,” is also a terrific asset to
the community. It gives all property owners — homeowners, ranchers,
and farmers — access to knowledgeable advisors familiar with cutting-edge
scientific studies. Much of this information is available at their office
or on their Internet site free or at low cost.
The Cooperative Extension’s “Weed Management in Landscapes”
web page —
—gives suggestions on,
for example, “How to Manage Weeds in Five Types of Landscape Plantings”
and offers weed-eradication techniques including the relatively unusual
hot water, steam, or propane treatments. Specific tips on herbicide selection,
performance, and safety are also useful.
Many other practical landscape solutions can be obtained
from this website as well. The director of the county Cooperative Extension
is Jim Sullins, who may be reached by calling 685-3303.
Of the weeds found in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks, most either pose minimal impact upon natural systems or are already
so pervasive that it is unlikely they could ever be contained. However,
many of the parks’ resources are being directed at controlling the
top dozen most pernicious weeds within the park.
The Natural Resources Division website — www.nps.gov/seki/snrm/nnp/nnp_index.htm
— profiles those dozen plants, providing a good guide to identifying
them and great insight into the parks’ methods of managing several
of the species that also occur in Three Rivers.
For further information, call the NPS Resource Management’s
Jonathan Humphrey (565-3720), Athena Demetry (565-4479), or me (565-3775).
In the next installment, the invasive plants of greatest
threat to Three Rivers will be identified along with recommendations on
Websites to assist in weed control and eradication:
Extension Weed Research and Information Center: http://wric.ucdavis.edu
of Agriculture weed identification and information:
Plant Council (Cal-IPC):
—Cal Photo (with
photos identifying plant, fungi, and animal species and more): http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/
is a restoration horticulturist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
This article was initiated by Diana Glass of Century 21 Three Rivers and
sponsored in part by Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks.
TIME WILL TELL
10 years ago this month
FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 1995— The Tulare County
Planning Commission voted to recommend that
the Board of Supervisors certify a zone change from rural-residential
to commercial-recreation on a portion of the Thorn Ranch. The action,
if adopted by the Board of Supervisors, would pave the way for a multi-million
dollar destination resort.
A NEW AMBULANCE arrived in Three Rivers.
A TOTAL OF 1,400 teams competed at the 45th annual Team Roping.
OBITUARY: VAN DIXON (1903-1995), of Laguna Hills, a Mineral
King cabin owner since 1950.