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l iving here COMMUNITIES: EXETERBY VALERIE GIBBONSvgibbons@ visalia. gannett. comhen one of Exeter'soldestbuildingsburned to theground in the mid- 1990s, city leaderswere left with ahole in the middle of downtown. Out of tragedy came inspiration. Instead of rebuilding with a newerbuilding, officials turned the lot into asmall park. On the wall of a neighbor- ing building stands a larger- than- lifemural of an orange grove at harvesttime. That was in 1997. Since then thesmall east county city that prides itselfon its small- town atmosphere hasadded 25 more pieces of public art toits streets. The mural project continues today, with the 26th mural in the seriesunderway at the time of this writing: atribute to Mineral King and memoriesfrom the rustic cabins still owned bysome Exeter residents. It's just one of the surprises in thesmall town where the local bookstorestocks titles by local authors and histo- rians and free hot cider and carriagerides are available downtown duringthe holiday shopping season. Land perfectly suited for raising cat- tle and growing grapes and orangesfirst attracted settlers to the rollingfoothills at the base of the Sierra Neva- da south of the Kaweah River delta tothe area that eventually became thetown of Exeter, the " Citrus Capital ofthe World." The descendants of those early set- tlers were successful, too. Exeter's Gill Cattle Company, whichis still in operation today, was at onepoint the largest cattle company in thestate. The Wall Street Journal also oncereported Exeter was home to thelargest per- capita population of mil- lionaires in the United States. " The streets are clean and we take itupon ourselves to be friendly," saidSandy Blankenship, the executivedirector of the Exeter Chamber ofCommerce. " Most of our businessesare owner- operated." Blankenship said the chamberappoints business " ambassadors" whotry to make visitors feel welcome. " It's very much about the small- towncharm." Artist JanaBotkinworks on amural ofMineral Kingon the 100block ofNorth EStreet inExeter. It'sthe 26thmural forthe city. Steve R. Fujimoto Exeter City CouncilMeets 7 p. m. second and fourth Tues- days at City Hall, 137 N. F St. Informa- tion: 559- 592- 9244Web site: www. cityofexeter. comPublic SafetyPolice: 559- 592- 3103Fire: 559- 592- 3174UtilitiesWater/ sewer: City of Exeter, 559- 592- 3710Trash: City of Exeter, 559- 592- 3710Gas: The Gas Co., 800- 427- 2200Power: Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 800- 896- 1245MiscellaneousPublic transportation: Dial- A- Ride, 559- 592- 8100; Visalia City Coach, 559- 713- 4950Schools: Exeter Public Schools, 559- 592- 9421Library: Tulare County Library, Exeterbranch, 230 E. Chestnut Ave., 559- 592- 5361COMMUNITY EVENTSiIndependence Day is a day of funand entertainment in City Park with ath- letic competitions and the annual ExeterLions Club Fireworks Show at Lions Sta- dium. iThe Fall Festival in October includesa parade, competitive walk and 10- Krace, a car show and a day of entertain- ment, food, crafts and activities in CityPark. iThe city also hosts a chili cook- offeach November. iThe Tule Gem and Mineral Society'sannual show is in January. CLIP IT | ESSENTIAL INFOWExeter's beloved murals rose from the ashesLIVING HERE May 21, 2009| 59

0000 12730360| May 21, 2009| LIVING HEREliving here COMMUNITIES: FARMERSVILLEEl Quinto Sol perform at Diadel Nino Veterans Park, Farmersville. Johanna Coyne