Lewis Griswold

Visalia makes list of nation’s happiest cities

The new Tulare County Office of Eduction building has a Clement Renzi statue near the entrance.
The new Tulare County Office of Eduction building has a Clement Renzi statue near the entrance. Special to The Bee

Visalians are happy – just not as happy as it seemed at first blush.

Esquire.com published on its website a list of the 30 happiest cities in the United States, and Visalia came in at a very respectable No. 6.

Alas, it was not to be. Not No. 6, anyway.

The happiest-cities list made the rounds on the Internet via Facebook, so I figured I should include the happy news in this column.

I started researching it and ran into a confusing mess.

The list came from the annual Well-Being Index by Gallup-Healthways, which considers good health, sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security and relationship to the community in its rankings.

But when I looked at the original Gallup-Healthways report, it didn’t have the same list that Esquire had in its story. Baffled, I contacted Jill Meyer, director of public relations at Healthways, and sent her a link to the article.

She quickly figured it out: “It looks like the Esquire list inverted the top 30 – No. 30 is actually No. 1 and so on,” she wrote back.

San Francisco isn’t No. 1; it’s No. 30. Naples, Fla., isn’t No. 30; it’s No. 1.

Visalia (Visalia-Porterville) is not No. 6; it’s No. 25.

I sent an email to the editor of Esquire and maybe others did, too. Within hours, the online article was repaired.

But look at the bright side, said Suzanne Bianco, the city’s tourism and marketing manager: Visalia is in the top 30.

“That we made a positive list is something to focus on,” she said. “Visalia has a lot of people who are dedicated to the betterment of the community. … I’m not surprised in the least.”

EDUCATION CENTER: The new Tulare County Office of Education building on South Mooney Boulevard had its official dedication and ribbon-cutting this month.

Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, an elected official, hosted the event. The building, called the Jim Vidak Education Center, has been occupied since mid-January.

Previously, the administration occupied a county-owned building in the Tulare County civic center. But when the county expressed interest in using the building for its needs, Vidak and the board of education opted to build new.

The three-story, 67,000-square-foot building is on the site of the former Mooney Drive-In Theater.

Out of sensitivity to the drought, no lawn was installed, but several oak trees were planted around the perimeter of the site to replace oaks trees removed for construction.

There is an electric vehicle recharging station, and the Graduation Day statue by Clement Renzi – a gift from Educational Employees Credit Union – was moved from the front of the old building to near the new entrance.

THE CALF RANCH: Eighth-grade student Tyce Griswold (no relation to the columnist) at Live Oak Middle School in Tulare raises calves on his family’s calf ranch at Nunes and Sons dairy.

Based on his experiences, he wrote “The Calf Ranch,” a short story about the ranch’s daily routine. His story was entered into the annual “Imagine This …” story-writing contest for third- to eighth-graders sponsored by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

Out of thousands of entries, two judging panels selected Tyce’s story for a statewide award.

Last week, his parents and teacher took him to Sacramento to receive the award at the Capitol.

“I hope readers will enjoy learning about all the work that goes into caring for calves,” Tyce said.

BUTTONS: Cynthia Fischer of Visalia still is collecting buttons for her Holocaust button project and is on her way to 6 million – the number of Jews killed in the death camps.

She and Congregation Beit Shalom in Visalia have collected well more than 3 million buttons. That’s progress: Three years ago, they had 200,000.

“They come in the mail, get dropped off at the door, sometimes are delivered to my house; my husband picks them up from Fresno, and often I pick up a batch from a local caller,” she said.

Someday, all those buttons will be placed into clear pillars for public display and contemplation.

Buttons still are needed, she said.

“Will you host a button container at your place of business, school or classroom?” Fischer asked. “If you have loose buttons, we have a home for them.”

For more information, contact the California Holocaust Education & Resource Center, 114 S. Stevenson St., Visalia, at 559-308-1333.

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Fresno Bee: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold