News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

In the News - Friday, march 31, 2006




Special photo section--


come out of the

woodwork for


Take a peek at

who's creating what where...

Rescue forebodes

springtime river hazards

   When it comes to the Kaweah River, Captain Steve Green of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) has seen plenty of action over the years while on duty at the Hammond and Three Rivers fire stations. He has helped save lives and also recover victims when rescue efforts were futile.
   So when the call came in late Wednesday, March 29, that a dog was in trouble in the river below the Oak Grove Bridge, he had the entire 30 minutes it takes to get there to imagine what scenario he might find.

  “I couldn’t help thinking about the tragic drowning that we [CDF and swiftwater rescue] worked at that very location not so long ago,” Green said.
   Would the owner enter the water and attempt to save the stranded dog or wait until help arrived?
   Six miles up the Mineral King Road and just below the historic bridge, the canyon narrows with such steep walls it is impossible to climb out without a rope or even more sophisticated rescue gear. Captain Green said he knows only too well that there are slippery, water-polished rocks there, and just being close to the water is an accident waiting to happen.

  “When I arrived, the dog was on a rock, but it was impossible for him to go anywhere but cascading down the swift-moving whitewater,” Green said. “The dog’s owner was on a rock ledge a few feet above telling the dog over and over to stay.”
   Captain Green, who worked the incident alone, tied off a rope and in a harness made his way down approximately 100 feet to where the dog was perched just a few feet from certain death. He then got some webbing around the dog and was able to carry the frightened canine and help the man back up to the safety of the road.
   The relieved dog owner, a resident of Three Rivers, told Captain Green that the dog, named “Smudge,” got into trouble after he slipped into the river. Fortunately, he was able to climb out on his own to where he waited about an hour until being rescued.

  “The river and its shoreline are extremely dangerous this time of year and we have yet to see what happens when all that snow becomes runoff,” Captain Green said. “If you are without safety gear and not in the company of a whitewater professional, you [or your dog] have no business even going near the river.”

Father John

achieves ‘Recognition’

   In more than a decade that the Three Rivers Lions Club has been recognizing an outstanding member of the community at its annual Jazzaffair kickoff, Father John Griesbach, the current director of St. Anthony Retreat, is the first clergyman to be honored. Under his tutelage, the spiritual retreat center has become more vibrant than ever.
   Among the traits used to describe Father John are humility, dedication, compassion, talented, and inspirational. But of all the things that this year’s honoree is and has accomplished in Three Rivers, this Recognition Night is really not about the revered padre.

  “This award is really more about Ollie’s gift to the Three Rivers community,” Father Griesbach said.
   Ollie, of course, is Ollie Craig, a Three Rivers resident for nearly 70 years who passed away Nov. 20, 2005. Since the Retreat’s inception in 1963, she was a very supporting neighbor.
   Along with her husband, Leon, Ollie made St. Anthony’s one of her principal causes. After the leasing of the retreat property to the Diocese of Fresno in October 2003, that group became the recipient of Ollie’s faith, hope, and charity.
   Leon and Ollie Craig had no children of their own but they were great philanthropists, especially when it came to the youth of Three Rivers. After Leon Craig passed away in 1984, Ollie searched for ways to permanently endow youth.
In the mid-1990s, Ollie offered a gift of 17 adjoining acres to the Franciscans to be used for a building site of a youth center. When the Diocese of Fresno purchased the retreat center, their plans made provisions to develop the property as a youth conference center.
   Ollie made no secret of her joy at seeing her dream become a reality but she did not live to see that day. Last November at her memorial service, Father Griesbach affirmed the Diocese’s commitment to build the youth center dedicated to Ollie, a longtime member of the Community Presbyterian church, and her dynamic faith as a universal Christian.
   Father John is very excited about his mission here in Three Rivers that includes the role of project manager. In addition to his 24/7 duties guiding the retreat center, he also “babysits” St. Claire’s, the mission Catholic Church located nearby.
   But he knows that among his greatest challenges will be to see that Ollie’s dream of a youth center be fulfilled. The fundraising is on schedule, he said, and the physical transformation of much of the property should be completed in 2008.

  “The center will be primarily for youth conferences and an overnight camp,” Griesbach said. “This summer, we will have another round of public meetings so we can hear more from the community what they envision this place to be.”
   Father John says he enjoys living in Three Rivers and often hikes in the local mountains where he is inspired to take photographs that in his spare time become paintings. As to his wondrous relationship with the people of Three Rivers and his job as director at the St. Anthony Retreat Center:

  “I just happen to be the guy who was lucky enough to get the work,” Father John concluded.

  …And now, he might add, honored at Recognition Night.

3R mom garners

playground grant

   Supervisor Allen Ishida called earlier this week with some very good news. The capital project grant has been approved to fund the playground project on the county’s Three Rivers Library property.
   That announcement was just what Maria Howell, a Three Rivers mom, and her playground committee has been waiting nearly a year to hear. Howell said she and all Three Rivers families with younger children will really benefit from adding a new “Little Tikes” play structure adjacent to the library.
   Seed money for the toddlers’ playground in the amount of $54,000 is being provided by First Five of Tulare County. The local community — in the form of labor, equipment, maintenance, and liability insurance — will furnish a 40 percent match that has the value of the equivalent needed to complete the $99,427 project.

  “What we are getting is a new ‘Pirate Cove’ at Three Rivers,” Maria said. “It has a pirate ship structure with two slides, swings, and a dinosaur climber.”
   The First Five money is being made available from local tobacco tax monies. The funding is set for late summer and several community groups, including the Three Rivers Lions and C-SET, will help with site preparation and assembly of the play structure.
   The timetable for completion is sometime in early fall.

  “The children are going to love playing here but it will be good for parents too who will have a chance to socialize,” Maria said.
   Maria said she had great cooperation from Brian Lewis, the director of the Tulare County Library. Liz Van Mantgen and Connie Meadows assisted her in writing the grant proposal.
   A chainlink fence will enclose the quarter-acre property. An assembly day is being planned for October 28 with a dedication and naming ceremony to follow.

  “An idea we had was to dedicate the playground as a memorial to Sara Ruehling,” Maria said. “Her courage in her battle against leukemia inspired us all.”

Woodlake High School

alum turns 100

   James Vaughn, who graduated from Woodlake High School in 1924, celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday, Feb. 18. The longtime resident of Springville was presented with a special proclamation from the Tulare County Board of Supervisors at an awards banquet.
   The Springville Chamber of Commerce also created a Pioneer Award in honor of Jim that was also presented to him at the community event.
   Jim was born in Anaheim in 1906 and moved to Woodlake with his family in 1913.

  “In those days there wasn’t much to Woodlake but the Stevenson buildings and the train depot,” he said in a 1994 interview for the book A History of Woodlake High School, by John Elliott. “I went to the old elementary school next to the Presbyterian Church.”
   Jim’s dad had passed away the year before the family relocated to Woodlake.

  “I had it real tough in those years, being the oldest in a family of nine kids,” he said. “It seemed like my mother was always in the hospital for one thing or another.”
   Jim’s class was the first to construct a “W” on a hill overlooking Woodlake. The students installed it by dragging the lumber up the hill during their senior “Sneak Day” in May 1924. The “W” was a local landmark for more than 70 years.
   Jim settled in Springville in 1933 and has resided there ever since. He built a gas station, which he owned and operated until the 1970s.
   He is a founding member in the local chamber of commerce and Lions Club. He was instrumental in reviving the Springville Rodeo after World War II.
   Out of 25 original Class of 1924 members, three survive.
   In addition to Jim, there’s Jessie Bequette, who was raised in Three Rivers and lived here her entire life until relocating to Visalia a few years ago. She will celebrate her 100th birthday on Sept. 11, 2006.
Lloyd Wacaser of Fresno will turn 100 on October 28. In recent years, he has attended Career Day at his alma mater.

Sequoia Fund raffle tickets

now on sale

   There are two benefits in purchasing raffle tickets from the Sequoia Fund. One, there is a chance that the ticketholder will win some spectacular prizes. Two, and most importantly, the donation will directly assist the Sequoia Fund’s ongoing support of projects in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   One prize, valued at $700, is a terrific vacation package, donated by Delaware North Parks and Resorts — two nights and breakfast at both Asilomar on the Monterey Peninsula and the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park.
   Other prizes include a mountain yellow-legged frog print, donated by the artist, David Littschwager, valued at $750; and an agate ball, valued at $400 and donated by Whitewater Contemporary Arts and Crafts in Three Rivers.
   Tickets are $10 each or three for $25. They are on sale locally at the Whitewater gallery, from Sequoia Fund board members and event organizers from Three Rivers — Bette Bardeen, Cris Carpenter, Maureen Swed, and Alex Picavet — or by calling 739-1668.
   The drawing will be held in conjunction with the Sequoia Fund’s Spring Feast (see Kaweah Kalendar page on this website for details of this event).



John More
1912 ~ 2006

   Richard “John” More died Monday, March 20, 2006, at his home in Three Rivers. He was 93.
John was born Sept. 5, 1912, in Needles to Richard and Isabella More. In 1929, he graduated from Fremont High School in Los Angeles.
   He and his wife Eleanore were married Sept. 18, 1936, in Bell, Calif.
John worked for the Challenge Cream and Butter Association, retiring in 1972 as a company supervisor. A favorite memory during his career was delivering dairy products to Mary See, which she used to make her now-famous See’s Candies.
   In 1965, the Mores purchased their Cherokee Oaks property. In 1972, upon John’s retirement, they built their home here.
   John was a life member of the Masons of California and enjoyed attending Three Rivers Town Meetings and Lions Club gatherings. He liked playing cards and outdoor activities, including fishing, gardening with Eleanore, and walking Bo, his black poodle.
   John is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Eleanore, who is currently residing at the Visalia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; two children, John Jay More and Bonnie Dianne Roloff, both of Southern California; his sisters, Mabel Schargitz and Anne Waggoner of Westminster; and brother Tom More of Needles.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL:
Entire contents of this website © Copyright 2003-2004 by The Kaweah Commonwealth