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In the News - Friday, May 16, 2008


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)


3R youth center breaks ground

   With a blessing from Bishop John T. Steinbock, St. Anthony Retreat hosted a gala groundbreaking Monday evening (May 12) to mark the start of an ambitious construction project that in the very near future is expected to make Three Rivers the new home of the Santa Teresita Youth Conference Center. Though to some observers it might take a minor miracle to make it all happen on schedule and within the $5.5 million budget, according to Father John Griesbach. St. Anthony director, it’s all part of God’s plan.
   That plan was revealed many years ago to Ollie Craig, the owner of the adjacent property as part of the neighboring Craig Ranch who passed away in 2005. After Ollie’s husband Leon passed away in  1984, she gifted 17 acres to St. Anthony Retreat with the stipulation that the property one day be used as youth center for the use of all youth of the community.
   When the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno officially leased the retreat property in October 2003, a succession of events were set in motion that would eventually make Ollie Craig’s dream a reality.  The Bishop appointed Father John Griesbach, a diocese priest and Tulare native, to oversee St. Anthony Retreat and plan for the eventual youth center construction.
   In the summer of 2006, the Fresno Diocese completed the purchase of the $2.5 million St. Anthony Retreat from the Franciscans, allowing Father John to shift more focus on the youth center and draw up the actual plans. Two gifts of $500,000 provided the seed money while St. Anthony added another eight-acre parcel of former Craig Ranch property that was a critical link to the new youth center that was taking shape.
   So now in addition to the 17 acres that will be developed in three phases, the adjacent eight acres will add a green belt of trails linking with BLM land and furnishing access to fishing, hiking, and riding trails leading to Case Mountain’s ancient grove of giant sequoias.

  “From the very start of the Diocese’s involvement with the Three Rivers property, we wanted to fulfill Ollie’s dream to build a center to engage the community and to help youth grow stronger in mind, body, and spirit.”
   As a part of the $5.5 million construction plan, the new Santa Teresita Youth Conference Center will consist of six structures, including student residential dorms, assembly building, crafts building, swimming pool, chapel, and amphitheater.
   Time is of the essence because the budget is based on 2008 dollars. The contractor is Jeff Blagg of Tulare who successfully completed another church project in Kerman.

  “We are so fortunate to have this team onboard to complete the project,” said Father John. “The contractors have all pledged they will do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
   Father John also said that the builders have previous experience with both green-building techniques and supervising volunteers on Habit for Humanity projects. That’s critical, Father John said, both to the philosophy of the project and methods of how in reality a $10 million dollar project might be completed for $5.5 million.
   The project will utilize all kinds of donated materials as well as an army of volunteers every step of the way. Of the $5.5 million needed, nearly half has already been pledged or is in the bank, Father John said.

  “As more locals and our Valley community participate directly in the project’s ecumenical nature, they will realize that they own a part of Santa Teresita,” he continued. “Three Rivers is the ideal place to do these great works, and all who come will benefit from the unique resources we share.”
   The Diocese of Fresno is comprised of 600,000 Catholics who live in eight Central California counties.

Crimes on the rise

3R residents advised to be alert

   When the local Volunteers in Patrol (VIPs) were first organized in 2002, locals volunteered to patrol night shifts to quell a spate of smash-and-dash burglaries in the Three Rivers commercial district.  Now, after some bizarre incidents in separate residential areas, a group of locals are saying its time again to step up the VIP patrols.
   On Friday, May 9, a couple of would-be burglars pounded and kicked on a South Fork resident’s front door. What’s ironic is that the woman’s daughter, who left the residence just before the suspects arrived, may have seen the would-be burglars.
   The daughter, who after an evening visiting with her mom, returned to her room at the Comfort Inn. That’s when she saw two youths walking along the side of South Fork Drive.

  “I’m convinced the two strangers saw my daughter’s car pull out; my house was dark so they just figured they’d see if anyone was home,” said the frightened woman. “The approach to the front door is lighted by a trail of Malibu lights but I was sitting here home alone in the dark like I often do.”
   That’s when the two suspects began pounding and kicking on the front door. The woman inside, who had a loaded handgun, frantically asked what the intruders wanted and informed whoever was out there that she was calling the Sheriff’s Department.
   Evidently, the frantic woman’s startled presence was enough to deter the suspects. After driving from somewhere down the hill, three Tulare County Sheriff’s Department units arrived around midnight and took a statement.

  “There wasn’t really much they could do because there was no apparent crime,” the woman said. “The next day I noticed that one of the Malibu lights was missing and there were two distinct sets of footprints all around my house.”
   The woman later called Jim Fansett, Three Rivers resident deputy, who was unaware of the Friday night incident. He said he planned to contact a person of interest and that the case was still under investigation.
   On Wednesday afternoon (May 14), there was an attempted car burglary in the residential neighborhood above Three Rivers School. In that incident, the would-be burglar triggered a car alarm and fled the scene.
   The woman who owns the car came out of her house and saw a young man jumping into the passenger side of a small white sedan with body damage that sped away. She thinks that maybe the burglar was trying to steal her stereo and a collection of CDs that were on the front seat.
   When the young woman’s mother returned home from work, she noticed that both doors to the house had damage as if the locks had recently been pried with some sort of tool.
   One investigating officer said that with the summer season there are always more strangers and more break-ins around town.

  “It’s not uncommon to get a spike in the local crime rate this time of year, so everyone needs to be vigilant and keep their doors and windows locked,” the officer said. “To some of these suspects, if it’s not nailed down, and sometimes even if it is, it’s easy pickings, especially if it might fetch a few bucks from somebody.”

Reimer’s Candies goes coastal

New store opens Memorial Day weekend

   Reimer’s Candies, the historic Three Rivers landmark candy and ice cream store, announced earlier this week that they are heading to the Central Coast and will be opening a second location. In just three years after purchasing Reimer’s Candies, Gifts and Ice Cream, Lynn and Mary Anne Bretz will now realize the next part of their business plan by expanding to a new oceanfront store at 324A Front Street in Avila Beach.

  “We are so delighted for the opportunity to open our new store in Avila Beach,” said Mary Anne. “This will give us the opportunity to provide our products and service to customers who come from around the world to visit the coast.”
   The owners expect many of these coastal customers will be old friends from the Three Rivers store and new patrons who come for Reimer’s famous “Old World Style” ice cream. But just wait till they try the tempting line of small-batch gourmet chocolates, fudges, and brittles. The new store will also feature espresso drinks and a line of gifts.
   Lynn said he expects Reimer’s most popular ice cream flavor, “Three Rivers Wild Blackberry” to be a big hit at Avila Beach. The Bretzes are also developing a new coastal flavor for Avila utilizing local ingredients.
   Reimer’s will continue to manufacture most of the chocolates and ice cream at Three Rivers. The products will be shipped to the new Avila Beach location.

  “We are adding at least two full-time positions in Three Rivers to make more candy and ice cream,” Lynn said. “Now we will be better able to utilize the production capacity of the Three Rivers location to supply the new store.”
   Reimer’s is part of a half-century of gourmet candy-making in Three Rivers. The local tradition began when Ted and Millie Huffaker brought their Visalia candy shop to Three Rivers in 1957.
   The new store operated as Huffaker’s Country Candies until they sold the business to Uwe and Nancy Reimer in 1978. The Reimers eventually changed the name to Reimer’s Candies Gifts and Ice Cream adding the ice cream store to the property in 1985. In 2005, Reimer’s was sold to Lynn and Mary Anne Bretz of Visalia.
   Lynn said they bought the business with the hope that it could be expanded.

  “In the last three years, we have developed a great staff in Three Rivers and now we are in a perfect position to grow the business,” Lynn Bretz said.
   The Bretzes, who like to think of their Three Rivers business as an “over the top candy shop,” are planning for some sweet success.  That Reimer’s name recognition among some loyal Central Valley customers, they believe, will be a great launching point for the new coastal location.


The home you save may be your own

by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

   Our fantastic summer weather is one of the big reasons California is such a great place to live, to work, and to vacation. However, these dry months also make our state especially vulnerable to wildfires.
   That is why I proclaimed May 4th to the 10th as Wildfire Awareness Week.
   Now, everyone remembers the devastation from last year’s firestorms in Southern California. Ten people were killed, 518,000 acres burned, and more than 3,000 homes and structures were destroyed.
   It also resulted in the largest deployment of firefighting resources in our state’s history.
   This year, fire season has already begun, and we need every firefighting tool on ready alert so that we can spring to action when disaster strikes. Last week, I signed an executive order directing Cal Fire to immediately mobilize additional personnel and equipment.
   This means more fire crews, more engines, more helicopters, and more planes, including the Supertanker aircraft, which can drop 12,000 gallons of water or fire retardant on a single flight.
   But the public needs to do its part too. That’s because 90 percent of California’s wildfires are caused by people.
   I have instructed Cal Fire to step up education and enforcement of our fire laws. We will be more aggressive in cracking down on dangerous and illegal fireworks.
   And we are going to start citing property owners who don’t follow the 100-foot defensible space rule.
   I urge all Californians to be smart, be vigilant, and obey our fire laws. Working together, we can protect our communities and protect California’s beautiful natural resources for generations to come.
   ED. NOTE— Governor Schwarzenegger’s issuance of an executive order to mobilize resources and hire fire personnel comes a month earlier than last year. With the heatwave that’s forecast for this weekend, now would be the time to ensure that vegetation is removed 100 feet away from all homes and outbuildings. That’s the amount of space that firefighters need to possibly save a home during a fire emergency.

Garden Watchers will

tend native plantings

The public is also invited

to Redbud Garden Club training

   The Redbud Garden Club is having great success with its four public native plant gardens around Three Rivers developed in partnership with community organizations. With plans to plant even more, the club is launching an exciting new program — the Garden Watchers — to ensure that the gardens will remain healthy and beautiful.
   The Garden Watchers program will train volunteers, including non-Garden Club members, to monitor the gardens at the post office, the library (including plantings going in around the playground), the Three Rivers Memorial Building, and the Cal Fire Station.
   An initial training session will be held Saturday, May 17, 9 a.m. to noon, at the CalFire Station (adjacent to Valley Oak Credit Union).
   The training is open to the public. An informative, colorful guide has been prepared that shows the plants at each established garden and how to watch for problems regarding watering, pests and disease, weeds, and more in native plant gardens. The training and the guide will provide an opportunity for the community to learn how to successfully maintain native plant gardens at their own homes even if they are not able to join the Garden Watchers program.
   There is no charge for the workshop or the written guide.
Club member and national park horticulturist Melanie Baer-Keeley will provide a brief slide show to help in identifying native plants and to help participants learn their maintenance needs. After a refreshment break, there will be a guided tour of the garden to become even more familiarized with how to keep a native plant garden healthy.
   Why native plant gardens? The Redbud Garden Club is working to maintain the rural character and sense of place in this beautiful foothill community. As a gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the club feels a responsibility to provide a visual and physical connection to this national treasure.
   Native plants are pre-selected for success. They are not so thirsty or demanding of fertilizer, pesticides, soil amendments, and continuing intensive care. Native plants are adapted to the soil and climate of our region which, as most know, is incredibly harsh.
   Native plant gardens provide beauty and interest to visitors and residents, increase property values, and teach an appreciation of nature’s gifts in Three Rivers.


Free hotspot at

Chamber’s visitor center

   The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce and the Three Rivers Historical Society are pleased to announce Three Rivers’s newest wireless hotspot at the Chamber office and museum at 42268 Sierra Drive.
   This free hotspot does not require a password or even access to the building. Residents of and visitors to Three Rivers can bring their laptops and sit on the porch or in the parking lot to access the Internet (as long as their computer has a wireless connection).
   During the hot summer months, the Chamber office and Historical Museum will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for those seeking an air-conditioned web-surfing environment.
   In addition, many of the Chamber's member businesses throughout Three Rivers offer wireless access for their customers. For more information, call (559) 561-3300.


Robert Raybourn

  Robert Harvey Raybourn, who was raised in Three Rivers, died Monday, March 17, 2008, in Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo of congestive heart failure. He was 85.
   A memorial service is scheduled for what would have been his 86th birthday, Saturday, June 14, 11 a.m., at the Community Presbyterian Church, 43410 Sierra Dr., Three Rivers.
   Bob was born June 14, 1922, to Don and Effie Myrle Raybourn in Alhambra. In 1932, the family moved to Three Rivers where Bob entered the fifth grade at Three Rivers School.
   The family lived in tents while Bob’s father, Don, worked locally for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Bob enjoyed his upbringing in Three Rivers, telling tales of setting off in the morning with his cousin, Dick, a can of beans, two forks, and fishing poles in search of trout.
   Bob and his family were members of the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. He was a Boy Scout and his dad was a scoutmaster. In addition, his cousins — Etheleen, Dick, Harsh, and George Brown — lived close by in Dinuba.
   Bob graduated from Three Rivers School and, in 1940, from Woodlake High School. He attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo until the completion of his sophomore year, when he entered the U.S. Navy for four years during World War II.
   He returned to Cal Poly in September 1946, where that fall he met his wife-to-be, the former Mary Sleeter. They were married the following year, on November 26, 1947.
   Bob graduated in 1948 with his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture-Animal Science and a minor in Music.
   Bob was an ag teacher in Lancaster for a few years until he took a job in 1950 as a lineman with the Southern California Edison Company. In 1960, the couple moved to Tustin, where they raised their four children.
   In 1986, Bob retired from SCE as an underground installations inspector. After his retirement, Bob and Mary moved to Lake Forest.
   They enjoyed traveling with RV clubs and had visited all 50 states. They were active in their church where Bob was an elder and sang in the choir. Bob was a member of the Elks Club, a former scoutmaster, and was a Naval Reservist, retiring as lieutenant commander.
   In addition to his wife of 60 years, Mary, Bob is survived by his four children, David, Scott, Beth (Laurinitis), and Jon and their spouses; 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren; stepbrother Vernon Dixon of Three Rivers; stepbrother Bob Dixon; and stepsister Lois (Dixon) Smith.
   In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Bob’s memory be made to the Deacon’s Fund, Community Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 685, Three Rivers, CA 93271.

Alan Ewen

   Alan Douglas Ewen of Three Rivers died Thursday, April 19, 2008, of Alzheimer’s disease, complicated by pneumonia. He was 85.
   A memorial celebrating his life will be held Saturday, June 7, at 11 a.m., at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.
   Alan was born May 7, 1922, in Summerland, British Columbia. He was raised in Southern California, where he graduated from high school as valedictorian and president of his senior class.
   Alan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in three years from the University of Southern California, graduating in 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Medical Corps.
   As a medic, he led his platoon ashore in the early hours of D-Day on June 6, 1944, landing at the Easy Red sector on Omaha Beach, France. Alan earned five battle stars and was awarded a field commission for volunteering to lead the first medical platoon across the Bridge at Remagen into Germany; General Dwight David Eisenhower pinned the silver lieutenant bars on Alan’s uniform.
   At the close of World War II in Europe, Alan returned home to Southern California and was employed as the Assistant Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at his alma mater, USC. While there, he also earned his Master of Science degree in Education. Additional degrees earned during Alan’s business career included Advanced Management from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and a Doctor of Humane Letters from National University.
   In 1947, he married the former Margie Anne Hengst, the daughter of William and Golda Hengst of Exeter.
   Alan’s successful business career included serving as managing director for the VIII Winter Olympic Games, which were held in Squaw Valley in 1960. As senior vice president at McCulloch Properties (owned by Robert McCulloch of McCulloch Chainsaws), Alan oversaw the construction of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., the rebuilding of the London Bridge in the new town, and construction of Pueblo West, Colo., and Fountain Hills, Ariz.
   Other executive positions held by Alan were senior vice president of Pacific Molasses and director of the Sacramento Area and Trade Organization, where he lured about 150 companies to the capital region including major high-tech firms such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and NEC. He also served as president of the Sacramento Union newspaper.
   When Alan retired in 1999, the couple moved to Three Rivers to be closer to Margie’s family and their cabin in Mineral King, which provided many hours of enjoyment. Alan was instrumental in resolving water agreements between the West Mineral King cabins and the Park Service. Through his efforts, a mountain in the Mineral King area was named Hengst Peak after Margie’s uncle, Alfred Hengst, a cattleman in the Three Rivers area.
   Erudite and eclectic describe Alan and his interests and activities. A friend in Sacramento said that after a conversation with Alan, he would get the dictionary out.
   Alan was always ready to help someone in their educational or career pursuits. He enjoyed sports, especially golf.
   On the USC campus, Alan was a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity and a life member of Skull and Dagger. He served on the boards of many arts, business, and civic groups. Alan was an ordained elder of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church and a member of the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.
   Alan is survived by his wife of 61 years, Margie. His remains are interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
   Donations in memory of Alan may be sent to the Alzheimer's Foundation of Central California, 4411 N. Cedar Ave., Suite 102, Fresno, CA 93276.

Theodore Roberts

   Theodore Everett Roberts of Three Rivers, died Thursday, May 8, 2008. He was 83.
   Ted was born July 29, 1924, in Galesburg, Ill., where he was raised and educated.
   Ted served in the U.S. Coast Guard for three-and-a-half years. He was aboard the USS Roger B. Taney, which is the last surviving warship afloat today from the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. These days, the historic cutter is docked in Maryland and houses the Baltimore Maritime Museum.
   Ted’s career as a business manager spanned 32 years with the J.C. Penney Co. He was also in real estate sales with Century 21 Jordan-Link & Company.
   Ted and his wife, Pat, moved to Three Rivers 21 years ago. His family would gather frequently in Three Rivers, and those times were very special to him. Ted was dearly loved and will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
   In addition to his wife and friend, Patricia Ann, Ted is survived by three sons, Carl Roberts and his wife, Betty Jo, of Orange, Steven Roberts and wife Elaine of Laguna Beach, Leonard Roberts and wife Sandra of Moreno Valley; two daughters, Gail Johnson of Sonoma and Roberta Hase and husband Greg of Simpsonville, S.C.; two sisters, Betty Rose of Galesburg, Ill., and Margaret Mosley of Rock Island, Ill.; 21 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He is also survived by Carl Flowers and Steven Flowers of Colton, David Flowers of Nevada, Paul Flowers and wife Tawnda of Hesperia, and Sandra Flowers of Santa Monica.
   Private interment will follow cremation with arrangements by Miller Memorial Chapel.


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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