A.J. RICE, M.D. (1943 ~ 2012)
Three Rivers caregiver for 31 years
A. Joel Rice, M.D., died peacefully in his Three Rivers home, surrounded by family and friends, after a courageous fight with a rare cancer that he had been battling since 2008. He was 69.
A celebration of life will be held Sunday, June 3, from 1 to 5 p.m., at Lions Arena in Three Rivers.
A.J. was born January 7, 1943, in Pittsburgh, Penn., to Frank and Marlene Rice. He was raised in Pittsburgh and earned a pharmacy degree from University of Pittsburgh. From 1964 to 1971, he was enrolled at University of Iowa, where he earned his medical degree and a Ph.D. in medical education.
That’s when A.J. headed west, where during the next several years he interned at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, then landed a fellowship at UC San Francisco. While at UCSF, A.J. began taking 24-hour shifts as an emergency room doctor at Kaweah Delta District Hospital (today Kaweah Delta Medical Center).
That’s how he first caught wind of Three Rivers, where he settled in 1973 while continuing to work at Kaweah Delta. His first home was a teepee on South Fork Drive at Cinnamon Canyon, where he continued to reside while working with a friend on his days off to build his home.
In 1980, A.J. met Karen, a respiratory therapist, while working at the Visalia hospital. In December 1980, he opened his practice in Three Rivers where there was already one medical doctor: Harry Ison, M.D.
“I never intended to compete with Harry,” A.J. said in a 2010 interview with The Kaweah Commonwealth, commemorating his 30 years in private practice in Three Rivers. “I wanted to be the doctor for patients who wanted to live an alternative lifestyle.”
Karen began working in A.J.’s Three Rivers practice and soon was attending classes at U.C. Davis, where she obtained her physician assistant license. On June 12, 1982, A.J. and Karen were married.
Also in 1982, A.J. attended a professional course being offered by the National Center for Homeopathy at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. As a result, A.J. and Karen incorporated homeopathy into their medical practice and soon became known as the foremost proponents of homeopathy in the Central Valley.
“We always tried first to treat the person who has the problem and not necessarily the problem,” A.J. explained during his 2010 interview. “Our goal was to get that person back in balance emotionally, psychologically, and physically.”
For the next 20 years, A.J. and Karen continued their healing ways, but the medical industry was changing fast. In 2001, Dr. Rice merged his practice with Family HealthCare Network; Karen retired in 2002.
A.J.’s affiliation with FHCN was instrumental in helping garner a Complementary and Alternative Medicine grant that enabled FHCN to become the only rural clinic in the nation to offer alternative medicine to its patients. A.J. said the biggest change that he had noticed in 30 years of practicing medicine is that now insurance companies dominate what one can and cannot do.
“Personally, it’s a lot better for me now but I can’t say it’s better for my patients,” he said.
Last year, A.J. was preceded in death by his wife of 28 years, Karen (1955-2011).
He is survived by his daughter, Leigh Rice; son Shay Rice; and his brother, Marc Rice, M.D., of Pittsburgh.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the American Institute of Homeopathy, c/o Sandra Chase, 10418 Whitehead St.; Fairfax, Va. 22030 (note “Dr. A.J. Rice” in the memo portion of the check).
Woodlake city manager has 3R connection
Ramon Lara was sworn in Monday, May 14, as the City of Woodlake’s new city manager. Lara, 29, is replacing Bill Lewis who is retiring in June after 15 years with the city of 8,000.
Lara is married to a former Three Rivers kid, Cassie White, who is the daughter of Gary and Jeanne White, longtime owners and operators of the White Horse Inn. Ramon and Cassie have one child with another on the way. Both are graduates of Woodlake High School.
Ramon, a Woodlake native, emerged as a clear choice for the position coming from TCAG (Tulare County Association of Governments), a transportation agency responsible for providing some impressive grant funding recently for several Woodlake projects. Ted Smalley, TCAG executive director, addressing the Woodlake City Council that same evening, said his agency will miss Ramon’s professionalism as a planner and fiscal officer but, of course, wishes him all the best.
Smalley also provided an update as to how Measure R funds are being used and the implications for Woodlake’s redesign of its downtown. That project includes a traffic round-about at the intersection of Naranjo and Valencia.
Ramon will be the city’s liaison with TCAG to ensure that the funding portion of the project will move forward. He said that garnering grant money for Woodlake improvement projects will be his priority.
Woodlake’s new city manager is a 2000 graduate of Woodlake High School who went on to earn a degree from U.C. Santa Cruz in economics and finance. His base salary is $88,600 plus a car allowance and bonus incentives that were not made public.
In other Woodlake City Council news, Councilmember Rudy Mendoza made a plea for his colleagues on the council to stop trying to micromanage the police department. In referring to an agenda item to restrict Woodlake Police Officers from going outside City of Woodlake boundaries, he called the action a “crock.”
“In my three years on the council this is the third time we’ve had this discussion,” Mendoza said. “We can’t be reacting to rumors and innuendo. We are a community of laws and if you are not happy with the conduct of an officer or the department then contact the district attorney.”
The motion to restrict Woodlake Police officers from patrolling outside city limits was defeated 3-2.
Cruz Dominguez, the city’s public works director, said that as soon as Saturday, May 19, the contractor C.W. Roen will be turning over the keys to the city’s new $12 million water treatment plant.
“Once we work out the bugs we will be connecting the pipeline for the effluent and we will be up and running,” Cruz said.
Public lands entrance fees
waived for active military
The Department of the Interior announced on Tuesday, May 15, that as a part of the Joining Forces initiative they will be issuing a free annual pass to active duty service members and their families. The new pass, which becomes effective on Armed Forces Day (Saturday, May 19), grants free access to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, and a host of other public lands in the coming years.
The initiative was made public during a ceremony at Colonial National Historic Park in Yorktown, Va., where Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis, and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy distributed the first passes to one member from each of the military’s five branches.
Military members can pick up a pass at any national park or wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee. Members must show a current valid military identification card to obtain their pass. The pass is also available to dependents of active duty personnel.
In Kaweah Country, the pass will be honored at Lake Kaweah and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
“Our soldiers, sailors, and airmen give so much to this country,” said Assistant Army Secretary Darcy. “The Corps is proud to be participating in the program by accepting the America the Beautiful military pass at Corps recreational facilities.”
At recreation sites that charge per vehicle, the pass covers the owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle. At sites where per-person entrance fees are charged, it covers the pass owner and three accompanying adults age 16 or older. Children age 15 and under are admitted free.
While the pass is not available to veterans and retirees, many of these individuals are eligible for other discounted passes, such as the Senior Pass, granting lifetime access to U.S. citizens age 62 and over for $10 and the Access Pass granting free lifetime access for permanently disabled U.S. citizens.
For more information on the pass program, visit: http://store.usgs.gov/pass/military.html.
Annular eclipse will be visible Sunday
Free viewing program offered
at Ash Mountain visitor center
The western United States is in the perfect location for an event that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades. On Sunday, May 20, the first annular eclipse of the sun visible from the West Coast in 18 years will occur.
While the event won’t be quite as spectacular as a total solar eclipse, anyone within a 200-mile-wide strip of territory between the Oregon-California coast should have the chance to see a rare occurrence, weather permitting.
The annular “Ring of Fire” eclipse will occur near sunset. Annular solar eclipses differ visually from total eclipses as the moon isn’t large enough to block the entire photosphere from view, leaving the moon surrounded by a ring of bright sunlight.
It’s for this reason that annular eclipses must be observed with filters or using projection techniques. At no point of the eclipse on May 20 will it be safe to look directly at the eclipsed sun with the naked eye or with optical aid.
Taking the right precautions, though, it is well worth it to witness the incredible spectacle. Annular eclipses don’t come around often.
A Sequoia National Park ranger will host a special program on the eclipse Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Participants should meet at the Foothills Visitor Center where they will be instructed how to safely view the eclipse.
While the eclipse will last for more than three hours, the “Ring of Fire” effect will last less than five minutes. In days gone by, such an event filled people with fear and dread.
To see the sun, which reliably has shone day after day, disappear from view as though devoured by some great monster or at the hands of a disgruntled deity would have sent any observer into panic. Fortunately, today we understand what’s happening when the sun disappears from view and thankfully don’t resort to human sacrifice to bring it back.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Food adventures in the Caribbean
by Allison Sherwood Millner
PART FOUR: BARBADOS
This is the next installment about a two-week cruise that Dane and Allison took this past January to the Caribbean, visiting eight islands, tasting, experiencing, and sampling the food, drink, and culture.
Grenada slowly disappears on the horizon, the smells of nutmeg and cocoa fade into the salty air, and we are faced with what to do during our next couple of island stops; Barbados being the first. It will be hard to match the Grenadian charm that still lingers with us, but we are ready for the challenge.
And really, how bad can it be when you’re sailing around the Caribbean?
After some research, Barbados seems to be a great place to snorkel and swim with sea turtles, so Dane and I sign up for a five-hour catamaran tour. The air that morning is hot and slightly humid, sunscreen glistens on our pale skin and lazy puffs of white clouds traverse the sky.
We sign a waiver basically giving the tour company permission to lose us at sea and climb aboard a beautiful boat.
We set sail and work our way southward toward Turtle Cove, our first stop. Snorkeling gear is passed out, and Dane and I take our spots on the front of the boat in the shade of the sails.
The sea is choppy and we happily bounce up and down, our cute, young guide points out beaches and places of interest on the shore.
It’s hard to describe the satisfaction I get from spending an entire day sailing along the sea, or I should say, “being sailed.” The feeling of total relaxation while lounging on the bow of a boat is hard to beat.
It is with this mask of happiness that I accept the news that the water is too choppy for Turtle Cove; we have to abort our first stop. The boat turns around and heads back the way we came to another sheltered spot.
I don’t really care. Dane and I have done some amazing snorkeling already with turtles, sharks, and stingrays in Belize, Hawaii, and Mexico, and this just means I get more time on water.
We sail for a long time and the day slowly passes. We do eventually snorkel with some sea turtles and several small fish.
It is deep where we swim, and Dane and I try to swim away from the school of life-vested people and go off on our own to explore. The guides would rather we stay as a group, so we give up after a short while and get back onboard.
The free bar has opened by this time, along with the buffet, so we may as well get our money’s worth.
An open bar is always a hit but when it comes to buffets, I’ll say this: The food is almost never spectacular; it’s usually somewhat bland, cold, and generally unappealing. There are, however, exceptions.
When the right set of circumstances align just perfectly, a wondrous thing happens… the food is fantastic. I know this is hard to believe but I’ll give you an example.
Imagine that you’ve been cruising along cerulean blue waters for hours, your hair is wind-whipped, and your lips slightly chapped. You’ve been accidentally sucking seawater down your snorkel as you dive after turtles, and sunscreen has started to burn your eyes. The “underwater” camera you bought is now truly at home at the bottom of the ocean.
Your skin feels hot and tight as the salt dries on your arms and you know you’ve gotten a little too much sun. Your body tingles from a couple of rum-and-cokes and you feel happy and beautiful, even though mascara is smeared down your face. The desire to stay on the water is overwhelming and you wonder if someone in Barbados would hire you to help run catamaran tours.
And then the buffet opens. I guarantee you will eat the best macaroni and cheese of your life. The dressing on the iceberg lettuce and shredded carrot salad will be to die for and the rice pilaf, a thing of genius.
You’ll swear that the jerk chicken has some sort of secret ingredient in it that you could never copy and make at home. Even the rolls served with butter pats will possess some sort of magic.
This is my Barbados. The day has come to an end and we reluctantly make the trip back into port. One of the tour guides tries to convince me to push Dane overboard and stay with him. I laugh at him, but for a split second think of my life as a catamaran tour guide.
I am still under the island’s spell; a magical place where the breeze blows in happiness, the water blankets you with charm, and the buffets are always good.
Until she is hired by a Caribbean ocean-tours company, Allison Millner and her husband, Dane, own and operate Sierra Subs and Salads in Three Rivers.