Lewis Griswold

Griswold: Visalia soccer mom rounding up used gear

Debbie Winsett gazes at boxes holding her son's old but usable soccer gear.

"What do you do with perfectly good cleats that he outgrew?" Winsett asked.

And there's tons of soccer gear gathering dust in garages up and down the Valley, she realized.

That led Winsett to put out collection barrels at American Youth Soccer Organization soccer games in Visalia, Odyssey South soccer games in Visalia, the Pro Soccer store at Willow and Herndon in Fresno and some schools in Visalia.

She's sending home fliers with soccer players on how to participate in the program, which will redistribute used gear so that families don't have to pay new gear prices.

"I want this to go to the soccer families that need it," Winsett said. "I don't know anybody else who is doing this."

She and fellow volunteers are collecting the gear and sorting it. In spring or summer of 2013, they'll have a distribution day.

"Those who donate can pick for free," Winsett said. "If you didn't donate or didn't register, we'll sell it for $3 to $5."

Donors must include their name and contact information to be notified when the distribution will take place. The date has yet to be determined.

Information: www.soccergearroundup.com.


: Dave Stamey, who lives on a small ranch near Orange Cove, won four major awards last weekend at the Western Music Association gathering in Albuquerque.

The singer and guitar player walked away with Songwriter of the Year, Album of the Year, Male Performer of the Year and Entertainer of the Year awards.

Gary Brown of Visalia, who stages western music performances at Maverick's Coffee House in Visalia, had the honor of serving as a co-presenter at the awards ceremony. Brown, along with actor John Wayne's oldest grandchild, Anita LaCava Smith, gave Stamey the award for Male Performer of the Year.


: Every now and then police see something new in crime.

Last month in Visalia, police were called to a residential burglary where the home was in the process of being fumigated for pests. The home on College Avenue in central Visalia had been "tented" -- wrapped in a large tarp -- to contain a poison gas that kills drywood termites, bedbugs or wood-destroying beetles.

The homeowners were out of town.

The fumigator called police to report that someone had broken into the tented home.

"We haven't heard of it before," Sgt. Amy Watkins said.

A firefighter on the Visalia Fire Department hazardous materials team went inside to inspect for a dead body or someone passed out from breathing fumes but found nothing.

Such break-ins are rare but not unheard of, said Eric Paulsen, a 30-year veteran of the pest control industry who works at Clark Pest Control in Lodi. It's kind of a trend, he said.

"It started about two or three years ago in Southern California, in Los Angeles and Orange County," Paulsen said. Lately, there have been reports of incidents in the Bay Area, he said.

Fresno police reported more than a dozen such break-ins earlier this year.

The industry believes that gangs are involved, Paulsen said.

Common sense would seem to prevent even a determined thief. Someone could die from breathing the fumes but more likely they'd get sick, he said.

Police said whoever did it in Visalia probably sought medical attention. The crime remains unsolved.