In the News -
Friday, march 31, 2006
31 PRINT EDITION:
out of the
a peek at
creating what where...
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
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
“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.”
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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.