Lewis Griswold

No fireworks, no fun: Visalia seeks to revive Fourth of July tradition

Fireworks explode at Mineral King Bowl in Visalia for a Fourth of July celebration in 2006. The fireworks show was last held in 2014.
Fireworks explode at Mineral King Bowl in Visalia for a Fourth of July celebration in 2006. The fireworks show was last held in 2014. Fresno Bee file

Visalia is very close to getting back its Fourth of July fireworks show, last held in 2014.

“A Visalia fireworks show is as all-American as motherhood and apple pie,” said Mayor Warren Gubler.

The city is offering a carrot – $20,000 toward expenses if a group will take on the show this year and hopefully keep it going from year to year.

That $20,000 is actually $10,000 plus a one-time incentive of $10,000, due to the short time until July 4. The idea is that the selected group will get a $10,000 annual contribution from the city in future years but will do fundraising for the rest.

The rule of thumb for putting on a show is $1,000 a minute, Gubler said.

The show had been held for nearly 50 years at Mineral King Bowl but reportedly lapsed when the group hosting the event had trouble getting volunteers.

There will also be a new location: Groppetti Stadium at Golden West High School. The new location will allow for larger and more dramatic fireworks than the old location, Gubler said.

The deadline for groups or organizations to express interest in hosting the event was March 8.

The city received proposals from two groups, while two other organizations that have expressed interest before the deadline are being allowed a little extra time to submit their proposals, said Assistant City Manager Leslie Caviglia.

It’s expected the City Council will choose a group by March 20.

History in Exeter

The Exeter Historical Museum has installed a large artifact out front: a restored electrical transformer that was once a Southern California Edison warhorse.

It’s an appropriate statement piece because the museum occupies the former Mount Whitney Power and Electric Co. building, which opened in 1913 and was in use into the 1930s. The company evolved into Southern California Edison.

The transformer was manufactured by General Electric, purchased in 1931 and first put into service in 1937. In February 1955, it was moved to Southern California Edison’s substation in Exeter and was in use until 2015, said historian Chris Brewer of Exeter.

Southern California Edison restored the transformer for the museum.

“It’s unbelievably well-restored,” Brewer said.

The new installation was dedicated March 3 in honor of the late Roger Taylor, born and raised in Exeter and a 37-year employee of Southern California Edison. In his career, he was responsible for the Exeter substation and 70 other substations and switching centers in the San Joaquin Valley.

A better fountain in Earlimart

Earlimart Elementary School in Tulare County has installed a hydration station, a modern drinking fountain where a student can fill a water bottle.

It was installed as part of a program to improve nutrition education.

Parkview Middle School in Kings County also got a hydration station.

Maria Gutierrez, a nutrition educator at the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Tulare, played a key local role in making it happen.

It started when the University of California CalFresh nutrition education program received a $20,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools to advance the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement seeks to improve diets, reduce food waste and increase sales of healthy food through low-cost, or even no-cost, modifications of lunchrooms.

About $4,700 of the grant money was used to obtain four hydration stations at schools in California.

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Fresno Bee: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold