In the News -
Friday, DECEMBER 2, 2005
Ollie Craig, philanthropist
resident of Three Rivers
nearly 67 years
Ollie Craig, a longtime resident of Three Rivers, died Sunday,
Nov. 20, 2005, at her Salt Creek home. She had just celebrated her birthday
on November 14, but Ollie preferred that her year of birth not be revealed
Suffice to say that Ollie lived more than nine decades, but
never lost her youthful vibrancy — physically, mentally, and socially.
She dressed impeccably and paid great attention to detail in her appearance,
which was always stunning, to say the least, whether entertaining dignitaries
or riding a horse on her ranch.
Two services will be held. First, a memorial service at the
St. Anthony Retreat is scheduled for today (Friday, Dec. 2) at 2 p.m.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, a graveside service will be held at the Three Rivers
Cemetery, also at 2 p.m.
Ollie was born in Sixes, Mo., to Aaron Van Ware and Mary
Emma (Fisher) Ware. She was raised in Cairo, Ill. While living in Ranger,
Texas, she met Leon A. Craig, whom she married in 1939.
That same year, the couple moved to Three Rivers when Leon went to work
with the local Edison Company. Upon arriving in town, Ollie and Leon stayed
with the recently-widowed Mary Barton on her North Fork ranch property.
The Craigs ultimately acquired vast landholdings in the Case
Mountain and Salt Creek areas of Kaweah Country. They built a home on
their “Craig Ranch” along what today is Salt Creek Drive.
Throughout her life, Ollie had several careers. She taught
second grade for two years while still in Ranger, Texas, and from 1920
to 1948, she worked in retail sales.
After getting married and moving to Three Rivers, she worked
alongside Leon in several successful ventures, including logging and ranching
on the Craig Ranch and real estate investments. Although the couple never
had children of their own, Ollie helped raise and care for her nieces
and nephews in their younger years as if they were her own.
From 1955 to 1966, the Craigs, in partnership with their
close friend Arnold Burnett (1915-2004), formed the LOA Corporation, a
mail-order company. A claim to fame of this company was that it received
the U.S. Postal Service’s computerized Permit No. 1, of which an
envelope with this imprint was sent to the Moon and back.
In recent years, Ollie has donated portions of her land to
the Bureau of Land Management. In 2004, the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Fresno, owners of St. Anthony Retreat adjacent to the Craig Ranch, announced
that Ollie had donated 17 acres of land on which a youth facility will
be built, including a lodge, four dormitories, riding stables, swimming
pool, and amphitheater.
Ollie’s other philanthropic activities include helping
establish the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance, a local daycare, and the
management of the Leon and Ollie Craig Foundation, which provides scholarships
to students with financial need to assist in their college education.
She was also a longtime member of the Three Rivers Woman’s Club
and a member of the Community Presbyterian Church and the former Lady
Ollie was just as comfortable hunting and fishing as she
was dressing formally and attending parties. She will be remembered by
many for her generosity and living life to its fullest.
In 1984, Ollie was preceded in death by her husband of 45
years, Leon. Her brother, Harry Edward Ware also preceded her in death.
Both are buried at the Three Rivers Cemetery, and Ollie will be laid to
rest between them.
Ollie is survived by her nieces, Jane Spooner and Lana Leake
of Arizona and Barbara Ainley of Elderwood; her nephews, Ed Ware of Colorado,
Todd Ware of Arizona, DeWayne Brewer of Oregon, Leon Brewer of California,
and Donnie Brewer of Montana; and more than 50 great, great-great, and
great-great-great nephews and nieces.
When the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
(CDF) began issuing hazard-reduction burn permits two weeks ago, it was
done with the expectation that more rain would soon be in the forecast
and landowners would take necessary precautions before lighting. Mike
Davidson, Tulare County’s chief of fire prevention who supervises
the burning, was well aware that the foothills remain tinder dry and are
It’s the law: 100-foot clearance in Three
Rivers-- But the decision was made to go ahead and grant permits,
Chief Davidson said, subject to “burn day” approval by the
San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, because of a new California
law that makes mandatory a 100-foot clearance around all structures.
The problem with the early jumpstart on the burn season is
that well-intentioned foothill residents are tempted to get busy on reducing
hazards but an out-of-control burn poses even greater hazards and the
scary potential for a tragedy.
Hot time in the old town... On Monday,
Nov. 28, a Dinely Drive property owner started a routine hazard-reduction
burn and, for a few anxious moments, found out that even with precautions,
burning can be very risky.
saw one of my neighbors burning across the canyon so that’s what
prompted me to go down to the fire station and get a permit,” said
the Dinely Drive resident, who preferred not to be identified. “I
did what I normally do when I have several piles ready. I cleared around
each area and had a hose ready just in case.”
But shortly after lighting a large pile of brush and leaves,
the property owner said, embers caught in an updraft and quickly ignited
brush on a hillside above the several structures on the property.
was nothing I could do to stop it on the hill behind my place,”
said the property owner. “I called 911 immediately.”
Within minutes, firefighters began arriving on the scene. The blaze burned
up a steep hillside but was contained near the flume after some quick
and effective hose work.
An assemblage of seven fire vehicles responded to the fire
and an air tanker. No aerial drops were necessary as crews on the ground
were able to get the fire under control within approximately 30 minutes.
On Tuesday, a hand crew from Mountain Home Conservation Camp
doused hot spots and conducted cleanup operations.
Three acres were burned in the fast-moving blaze. The property
owner now must make a court appearance and may be responsible for suppression
costs related to the incident.
the local fire department is going to issue burn permits some more information
as to the current conditions might be helpful,” said the property
owner. “I’ve asked the CDF in the past to conduct a burn in
our area but, so far, there has been no response.”
we have significant rainfall, it’s extremely dangerous to burn in
the Three Rivers area,” said Kirk Gramberg, a CDF firefighter stationed
in Three Rivers. “Although it is not illegal I’d advise waiting
a few more weeks.”
in the high country
With the falling of the first snow of the season, some changes
go into effect in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
First of all, tire chains must be in the car when traveling
to the high country. They may not necessarily have to be used on any given
day, but having them, making sure they are a proper fit, and knowing how
to use them could avert a potentially dangerous situation.
Travelers to the higher elevations should also be prepared
for winter conditions. Warm clothing, water, a flashlight and other winter
safety supplies should be on hand.
Also, once the snow flies and actually accumulates, the road
to Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow in Sequoia will be closed to vehicles.
The Panoramic Point road in Kings Canyon will also close when snow-covered.
The Sequoia National Park entrance station just beyond Three
Rivers is open year-round, as is the Generals Highway to the Wuksachi
Village in Sequoia. The stretch of highway after Wuksachi that connects
Sequoia with Kings Canyon may close during significant snowstorms and
remain closed until plows can clear it and/or the snow melts.
The Wuksachi Lodge is open year-round and offers overnight
accommodations and dining.
The John Muir Lodge in Kings Canyon is also open during the
winter as is nearby Grant Grove Village, which has a market, restaurant,
post office, and park visitor center.
Snow sports-- Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,
and snow play will all be available this winter in Sequoia and Kings Canyon
and nearby Giant Sequoia National Monument.
This year, the Sequoia concessioner, Delaware North, will
be opening the Wolverton ski hut with a snack bar and cross-country ski,
snowshoe, and sled rentals. In addition, the company will be grooming
some cross-country ski trails in the area, which will greatly enhance
the quality of the skiing experience by regulating snow conditions and
making it easier to route-find.
History in the making:
evolves into life’s work
New antiques gallery open by appointment
There are myriad reasons for living the good life here. The
mountain scenery, it’s a good place to raise a family or retire,
a hotbed of traditional jazz, close to nature, the river, and it’s
the gateway to Sequoia National Park — these factors are the most-oft
mentioned when folks explain what it was that attracted them in the first
place to locate in Kaweah Country.
For John McWilliams, it was his passion for history and Americana
that brought him here and actually gave him the means to become a first-time
homebuyer. In fact, he said, a rather circuitous trail that began when
he was born in Porterville in 1969 has led him to Three Rivers where he
discovered he is connected to some very deep roots.
John McWilliams is a 30-something guy who if he had a shingle
hung on his front porch it would read: “Old photographs wanted.
Buy, sell, or trade.”
Curiously, it was John’s passion for collecting old
photos — more specifically, the very first photographs called daguerreotypes
(1839-1858) — that led to one very big payday in 2004. John parlayed
that deal, the buying and selling of a single still-life image of a St.
Bernard, into a down payment on some Three Rivers real estate.
After spending more than a year transforming the property
into his own private museum, he’s ready to open a portion of the
place, by appointment only, as a very unique historical gallery.
Only John, who is a founding member of the internationally-renowned
Daguerreian Society in 1987, could adequately explain the preoccupation
that the group’s 1,500 members have for collecting and studying
these early photographic images. But, he said, once someone really looks
closely and takes what he describes as “the trip back in time,”
they realize why these silver-coated plates are so highly sought as collectibles.
image quality is what we call holographic,” John said. “Nothing
that we have produced since or are making today can compare to these pristine
But to understand John’s own history some background
is necessary. He explained that he is a descendant of “Okie types”
who settled around Pixley in the late-1930s. His father and mother both
worked for a time at the Porterville State Hospital, but it was his grandmother
who nurtured John’s affinity for Americana.
grandmother was a fifth- generation Texan and it was her stories that
turned me on to what life was like in the 19th century,” John said.
“I understood at a very early age that photos and other historical
documents were artifacts of the past and they had a great deal of value.”
By the age of 12, John was already collecting all kinds of
knew right then and there I wanted to spend my life researching and collecting
Americana,” John said. “I eventually learned that photos are
the most important of all the artifacts and that they can help us see
into our past.”
In the early 1980s, John began collecting vintage photos.
After graduating from high school in Stockton, he worked for several years
as a bail bondsman in his father’s business and nailed down a six-figure
salary while still in his teens.
Having all that disposable income really fueled his passion
for collecting that soon developed into an addiction. Although he has
thousands of photographic images that document more than a century of
the history of photography, it doesn’t get any more vintage than
This first process to make photos was invented in 1839 by
Louis Jacques Mende Daguerre, a French artist. The picture was made on
a silver surface sensitized with iodine and developed by exposure to mercury
John said that he is truly amazed by the thousands of daguerreotypes
that have survived intact and that new ones come to light all the time.
The process became obsolete because the plates were cumbersome and many
of the photographers succumbed to illness from working with mercury.
majority of the images [95 percent] are portraits because that’s
where the business developed,” John said. “The others were
mostly scenic landscapes or the world’s wonders and are even more
valuable to collectors than the portraits.”
Recently, a single image of the ancient Greek Parthenon sold
at an auction for a record $1 million. That, John said, means his large
collection will only appreciate in value.
Unlike many amateurs who collect in certain niches, John
is an accredited professional whose clients include prestigious repositories
like the Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley and the Oakland Museum. He
collects all Americana, he said, but his expertise and specialty are with
things from the West.
I come across a piece that should be accessible for the enjoyment of the
public, I have the contacts to find the best situation,” John said.
“I know by placing these items in an institution they will be properly
cared for and made available for researchers.”
John says his personal collection includes thousands of photos,
artifacts, diaries, books, manuscript materials, original paintings, art
objects, and even the cornerstone of the 1853 U.S. Mint in San Francisco.
His collection of Texas Rangers memorabilia, he admits, is the best in
Along with his Three Rivers gallery, he also owns the Tule
River Trading Company, an antiques shop on Main Street in Porterville.
He set up his retired father in that business as a way to socialize with
other collectors and stay connected with the Porterville community.
say I have a passion for history is an understatement,” John said.
“I guess how I feel about it is a little too much for most people,
but it’s a way I can make a living doing what I love.”
To arrange for a tour of John’s Three Rivers gallery,
Bertha L. Metz, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Friday,
Nov. 25, 2005. She was 92.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 10
a.m., at the Exeter District Cemetery.
Bertha was born Jan. 26, 1913, in Rake, Iowa, to Peter and
Nellie (Alderson) Peterson. In 1935, she married Harold Metz.
Bertha and her husband owned and operated the Kaweah Park
Resort in Three Rivers for 20 years. In 1989, she moved to Exeter.
Bertha is survived by her two children, Bernard Metz of Colorado
and Barbara Miller of Visalia; four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Gift-giving is a major part of the tradition of the winter
holidays. And although buying and giving gifts is a luxury enjoyed by
family and friends each December, there are those in need of the most
basic of items that can greatly benefit by the generosity of others in
the spirit of the season.
Often, giving a gift to someone truly in need is more satisfying
than actually being on the receiving end of the gift-giving.
Here are a few ways to spread the love:
This Three Rivers facility is gearing up to feed 40 families
or more, providing not just the holiday meal but also nutritious lunches
for dozens of children throughout the Winter Break.
Currently, the Food Pantry has 14 turkeys in stock, but needs
at least 40. Other food items needed for the holiday meal, which will
be prepared for distribution on Wednesday, Dec. 14, are russet potatoes,
onions, sweet potatoes (fresh or canned), stuffing, pumpkin, and 40 containers
of white cream-cheese icing.
Trish Stivers, who is organizing the food collection and
meal preparation, reports that she has enough cranberries and the necessary
boxes of cake mix.
For kids’ lunches, soups are needed, she said, as well
as peanut butter and Top Ramen. The Food Pantry also always needs nonperishable
food items and apples, which may be purchased by the case by contacting
Nataliya Dixon at Village Market.
Gifts will also be distributed to children in need this month.
Trish said that the Food Pantry has enough toys for younger children and
no stuffed animals are needed, but gifts for older children are in short
supply, such as sports equipment — basketballs, footballs, soccer
balls, etc. — and, for the girls, fun makeup items — eyeshadow,
lip gloss, lip balm — tights, and hair products.
Jackets, sweatshirts, raincoats, and other warm outwear,
whether new or nearly new, will also be accepted. Although the local chapter
of the American Heritage Girls organizes a sock drive each year for the
Pantry, socks are a well-received gift and are in demand year-round. Donations
of winter clothing and warm blankets will be needed throughout the cold
It’s important for donors to only provide season-appropriate
clothing items since the Food Pantry doesn’t have the space available
to store additional items.
Currently, there is a “Feed the Children” container
at the Village Market, where shoppers may conveniently drop off food items
for the Pantry while doing their regular grocery shopping. The Feed the
Children campaign will conclude on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Financial contributions are always accepted, which, at this
time, will help Trish and her assistants shop for fresh foods, such as
the cheese, lunchmeat, bread, and other items to be provided for the kids’
Donations for the holiday meal will be accepted through Tuesday,
Dec. 13. Drop off items at the First Baptist Church during office hours
or call Trish Stivers, 561-4834, to make arrangements.
CANNED FOOD DRIVE— For more than a
decade, Three Rivers School has collected food items in the late fall
to distribute to local families during the holidays. Students and their
families donate non-perishable food items. In recent years, Student Council
members sort and pack the food and it is delivered by Sue Sherwood, superintendent/principal,
and crew to local families and the Community Food Pantry.
The TRUS food drive will continue through Monday, Dec. 12.
COATS FOR KIDS— Drop off new or gently
used outer garments at various locations in Tulare County and they will
be cleaned and distributed to children who may not otherwise have a coat
to wear this winter. Through Sunday, Dec. 4, coats may be dropped off
at Gottschalks at the Visalia Mall or Enterprise Rent-a-Car, 1040 E. Main
WOODLAKE FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER— If
you miss the Coats for Kids deadline, this Woodlake center will accept
gently-used clothing and outerwear for men, women, and children all year
long. The office is located on Woodlake’s main street at 168 N.
TOYS FOR JOY— The annual Woodlake
toy drive is underway and will continue through Sunday, Dec. 18. There
are several ways in which to donate to this annual event that will ensure
toys for all the community’s children at Christmas.
First, there are currently collection containers for toys
(approximately $10 value) at Woodlake City Hall, the Woodlake branch of
the Bank of Visalia, 1st Choice Foods, and all the Woodlake schools.
Second, cash donations are needed so that specific toys may
be purchased. Checks may be made payable to the “Kiwanis Club of
Woodlake” with a notation stating Toys for Joy and mailed to P.O.
Box 650; Woodlake, CA 93285.
Third, volunteers are needed to wrap, sort, and deliver toys.
These tasks will be performed Monday, Dec. 19, through Wednesday, Dec.
21, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the YMCA afterschool building, located
adjacent to the high school swimming pool and behind the middle school’s
Crawford Center gym.
For an indication of the good this program can do, consider
these numbers from December 2004:
—200 toys were donated.
—$3,500 in financial contributions were received.
—60 volunteers helped shop, wrap, and deliver toys.
—2,000 children through the age of 18 living in the Woodlake High
School district, received a toy.
For more information, contact Laura Armstrong, 564-1441.
FFA CHRISTMAS TREES— While you’re
buying your own Christmas tree at Woodlake High’s Future Farmers
of America Christmas tree lot, pay an additional discounted price of $20
to buy another tree and FFA members will deliver it to a needy family.
Even if you don’t need a tree for your own home, this simple act
of kindness will ensure this Christmas tradition can be enjoyed by all.
The tree lot opens tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 3) adjacent to
the WHS ag building and continues through Sunday, Dec. 11. It will be
open weekdays from 3:30 to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sundays,
noon to 4 p.m.
For more information, call Steve Parker, ag teacher, 564-3307,
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD— For the
sixth year, Jennifer LaMar and her family and friends will be collecting
small toys and stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, and personal
hygiene items to assemble into gift bags for delivery to children in Three
Rivers, Woodlake, and Visalia.
Collection boxes for donated items are located throughout
the community. Financial donations are also being accepted and may be
dropped off at the Community Presbyterian Church office or mailed to the
church at P.O. Box 685 (note “Operation Christmas Child” on
Volunteers are also needed to assist in packaging the gifts.
For more information, call 561-4154.
Fatal crashes caused by
animals at all-time high
Cars and motorcycles crash into deer more than 4,000 times
a day and it’s taking an increasingly deadly toll on humans, too.
In 2003, a record 210 motorists were killed in collisions
with animals. That was more than twice the number in 1993, according to
a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Most of the accidents happen in November and December, the
institute said, as deer are stirred up due to hunting season, are foraging
in preparation of the cold season, and are in the midst of mating season,
all of which cause the animals to be on the move. Crashes are most likely
to occur during evening or nighttime and most often on rural roads with
speed limits of 55 mph or higher.
Deer are involved in about 90 percent of fatal animal-crash
accidents. Here are some other gruesome roadkill statistics:
4 million— Miles of roads in the United States.
226 million— The number of vehicles registered in the
23 trillion— Vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. in
6.3 million— Number of automobile accidents annually
in the U.S.
253,000— Number of animal-vehicle accidents annually.
50— Estimated percentage of vehicle vs. large animal
collisions that go unreported.
1 million— Number of vertebrates run over each day
in the U.S.
$2,000— Average minimum cost for repairing a vehicle
after a collision with a deer.
40— The percentage by which deer-vehicle collisions
were reduced after the installation of a deer crosswalk system in northeast
Exeter High volleyball team
playoffs at San Diego
The Exeter Monarch girls all-time best volleyball season
ended with a straight set loss (25-10, 25-17, 25-20) to Francis Parker
School in San Diego in the Division 4 Southern Regional Playoffs on Saturday,
Nov. 26. The loss was only their second in a season that included 40 wins,
an East Sequoia League championship, and the school’s third sectional
girls really played hard but we just couldn’t get any blocks on
their kills,” said Cindy Marinos, a former college volleyball player,
coach, and the mother of Exeter’s outside hitter, senior Tiffany
Marinos. “They [Francis Parker] were tall and talented and had one
player who we know from club that is one of the best players in any division.”
Cindy Marinos of Three Rivers and her husband, Manuel, also
have an older daughter, Janelle, currently a junior and playing at Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University in Florida on a volleyball scholarship.
Next season, Tiffany is headed to Fresno Pacific University
to join a team that is currently closing in on a national title and an
Cindy Marinos, as a coach, was instrumental in developing
the Three Rivers School volleyball program in the late-1990s. She helped
teach the fundamentals of the game to several girls who went on to become
In the last four seasons, Exeter has won three sectional
championships. In each championship season, an MVP from Three Rivers,
who formerly played in Marinos’s TRUS program, powered the Monarchs.
In 2002, playing in Division 3, it was Janelle Marinos who
was Exeter’s league MVP. She played two seasons at Cal State Stanislaus,
then transferred to Embry-Riddle.
In 2003, after making the switch to Division 4, it was Samantha
Davis, also of Three Rivers who was Exeter’s league MVP. Sam is
currently in her second year playing at Cal State Chico on a volleyball
This past season, Tiffany Marinos was Exeter’s leading
player in their charge to a League and a Valley title. Sometime next week,
Tiffany is expected to be named East Sequoia League MVP.
Next year, teams in the Central Section competing for state
championships in volleyball and basketball will enter the Northern California
regionals instead of the Southern California playoffs like in the past.
will really help, especially in volleyball, where all the powerhouse teams
are located down south,” Marinos said. “It won’t make
any difference in the finals but it will mean that our Valley teams will
be able advance a round or two deeper into the regional tournaments.”