Betty Walden Francis, 87, may be most senior hiker to trek Rock City Park, Olean NY


Olean Times Herald

OLEAN - Eighty-seven-year-old Betty Walden Francis' recent hike along the dips and curves of Rock City Park's historic trail could have worn out many younger seniors.
Add her recent visits to Watkins Glen and Letchworth Park, as well as her float down the Allegheny River and viewing of Olean's fireworks, and it could be said Francis has more energy than some middle-aged people.
A resident of Trinity, Texas, Francis stayed in the Olean area this past week while visiting the family of Michael Walsh, a native of Olean. Walsh, also of the Houston area, served as a police officer for 30 years in that community before retirement. He and his wife, Nora, met Francis through their church in Texas about eight months ago.
"She was sitting in a pew that was saved for somebody else," he recalled. "When she got up, my wife invited her to sit with us, and she's been sitting with us ever since."
Walsh said Francis was invited to travel with them to the Olean area the last week of June to visit his mother, Betty Kameck, 80, a former drapery seamstress. Francis flew back to Texas Thursday. "My mom and Betty Francis did (Rock City) trail together," Walsh continued.
He said Francis also walked in Letchworth State Park in Castile and Watkins Glen State Park, floated down the Allegheny River and watched the Bradner Stadium fireworks from Adams Street on Tuesday.
"My mom did Rock City Park and Allegheny River, but she did not do Letchworth State Park or Watkins Glen," Walsh added.
For her part, Francis said she enjoyed Rock City because it was different than any trails she has encountered.
"Michael had me stand where I was on one rock and I put my hands up like I was holding a big rock up. That was kind of fun," she said.
Dale and Cindy Smith, who own the historic ' Rock City Park on Route 16 South in the town of Olean, said there have been a number of older people who have walked the trail. Dale Smith believes Francis, however, is one of the older individuals to complete the trail.
He said the trail is three-quarters of a mile long and winds through gigantic rock formations with steep steps as it circles back to the visitors' center and gift shop.
"It really is a pretty good workout," Dale Smith said of the trail. "If somebody moves right along, it takes about 40, 45 or 50 minutes.
"Over the last few days we've had some people in their 80s go through and walk the entire trail," he remarked. "I always marvel at that - my gosh, when I was a kid, people 80 years old were gone." Francis said at Rock City she was "tired, but I was OK"
"When we went to Watkins Glen, my legs felt very weak ... but I didn't have to go to bed" after returning home, she said.
A former elementary teacher, Francis is twice-widowed and has two children and three grandchildren.
She has visited New York state in the past, but this is her first trip to the Twin Tier area.
"Teaching school was much easier than climbing," she kidded. "I taught 26 years, mostly first grade. I loved my babies."
Francis said her personal exercise regimen includes a one-mile jaunt in the morning and a mile in the evening every day in the Houston area.
"I have a funny dog that's kind of hyper, and I say he needs to walk, but I do, too," she shared. She believes her regular walking routine has helped her overall health, stamina and longevity.
"You couldn't tell it yesterday, because I still needed help," she admitted. "But I'm getting stronger again."

Trinity Co. Youth Livestock Show results announced

The 30th annual Trinity County Fair and Livestock Show came and went the weekend of March 16, 17, and 18, hosted in its usual location at the Groveton fair grounds. Buyers, spectators, and the loved ones of participants came from all over to watch and bid as the children of Trinity County auctioned off the animals they had spent months nurturing and preparing. An array of baked items and shop projects were sold this year, in addition to 146 animal projects and five sweetheart cakes that totaled almost $145,000.

This year, the centerpiece of any fair event, the awarding of Champion Steer, went to 10 year-old Groveton Elementary student, Jack Cutter Sullivan, brother of the last year’s Champion Steer winner, Cole Sullivan, holder for highest selling champion. Cutter’s steer, "Wolfpack", was an intimidating creature that sold for $4,200 to Stevenson Distribution, but this is far from Cutter’s only win among livestock circles. Across the state, Cutter has won numerous other awards in the past, including Reserve Grand Champion Red Angus Heifer at Rodeo Austin, Red Angus class winner at HLSR and the Fort Worth Stock Show, Reserve Calf Division Champion at the San Antonio Stock Show, was in the Top 10 in ORB for Texas Junior Livestock Association (TJLA), Reserve Grand Champion ORB at Rodeo Austin 2016, Reserve ORB Calf Division Champion at the 2016 San Angelo Stock Show, and Reserve Grand Champion Chianina at the 2015 East Texas State Fair.

“I've been raising steers for show for two years now but have been doing it longer than that with my older brother,” Sullivan said. “My family raises show heifers and steers all year long. My dad showed steers in Angelina County from 3rd-12th grades. My mom took a steer to majors too. Agriculture is big in our family all the way from my grandparents to myself!" 

“Winning means a lot to me becuase it shows how much time I have put in with that animal,” Sullivan continued. “Wolfpack was one of my favorites because he was a calf out of my brother's very first show heifer. Since my steer died last year, I felt like I made a comeback! Wolfpack knew what his job was and he did a mighty fine job at it. He weighed 1,345 and was really big but we talked before going in the ring. We just made a good team! He made me very happy! I think I am the youngest steer exhibitor to ever win the county fair so that is super neat!”

In other categories, Emily Eccord’s Grand Champion Lamb was sold to Trent Ashby for $1,600; Morgan Robertson’s Grand Champion Goat was sold to the Old Indian Club for $1,000; Hanna Antley’s Grand Champion Swine was also sold to the Old Indian Club for $1,500; Caitlin Ray sold her Grand Champion Heifer for $5,000 to Teresa Ray; Tristin Eddins sold his Grand Champion Briolers to Trent Ashby for $700; and lastly, Mercedes Wilson sold her Grand Champion Fryers to the Old Indian Club for $750.

Local author publishes mystery novel

Trinity resident Barbara Chamberlin recently added “published author” to her list of accomplishments after her Murder-Mystery novel, “Double Take” hit the shelves at several book stores this month, including Barnes and Noble.

Chamberlin has a varied history, with years of experience in information technology, and much time working as a volunteer on the local Library Board of Directors, as the Vice President and Treasurer of the Trinity Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, and more. In 2015, the Trinity Chamber of Commerce even selected her as Volunteer of the Year. Though she still volunteers, after retiring, Chamberlin felt it was time to try something new.

About three years ago, Chamberlin said she woke up and just decided to write. “It was amazing because I had the very thinnest of plots outlined when it started. From that point on, it developed,” Chamberlin said. “It got deeper and deeper and deeper, and more intricate… and it became very fun to write.”

“Double Take”, Chamberlin said, is the story of a girl who gets kidnapped with many twists and turns along the way, not to mention a bit of romance. The story takes place in a small California town, but doesn’t reflect Chamberlin’s experience with small-town Trinity life. She said the culmination of many other books, stories, and her own imagination helped develop the characters, and not her personal experiences. 

Chamberlin moved to Trinity with her husband Richard Chamberlin in 2006 when she retired to be close to her family. Unfortunately, Chamberlin’s mother passed away before she was able to read “Double Take”, but most of her other family members have taken the opportunity and have given her valuable feedback.

There have been five total iterations of the book with several friends and family members who have helped out with the editing process. Chamberlin and her husband have a blended family of four children, and eight grandchildren ranging in age from five to 24 years old. Her daughter, Lisa Opie, was one of the first to read “Double Take” and offer feedback. 

“She’s always been an avid reader and she passed that on to both of [her children], so it’s gone through the generations,” Opie said. “She’s always had that love of reading, and storytelling.” 

Opie has many memories of her and her mother spending afternoons reading together, which is a pastime she’s passed on to her two girls. 

 “My girls love to read,” Opie said. “They’re always reading.”

Chamberlin’s next step is to promote her book, and possibly write another in the future. She held a book signing on Tuesday, March 21 in Livingston, TX. To keep up with Chamberlin and her work, check out her Facebook page at

Dorrance Publishing Company has “Double Take” available in hardback and paperback on their website at Additionally, it’s available on, as well as in Barnes & Noble bookstores with digital copies also available for purchase. 


Trinity business endures heavy fire damage

On Friday, March 24, the beloved Trinity Café endured a fire and heavy damage that will require extensive repair. 

The Trinity Volunteer Fire Department received notice of the fire at 10:04 p.m. and was able to completely extinguish it by 11:45 p.m. There were no injuries.

Café owners Dolores and Roland Kane began receiving phone calls around 10:15 p.m. notifying them of the fire, which will affect them, their nine employees, and loyal customer base. 

The Trinity Café not only donates to local fundraisers, but also hosts several each year for the Boys and Girls Club of Trinity. The Club is important to the Kanes because they believe it helps educate children and fill their time with positive experiences. 

“There are no words to express how truly blessed and thankful we are feeling,” Dolores Kane said. “We’re so grateful for the outpour of love and concern from our little town. The speed at which our awesome firefighters responded and contained [the fire] -- as no other businesses were involved -- it could have been so much worse. All the call, texts and prayers, offers to roll up sleeves and dig in with us is overwhelming! Our employees and their dedication to us is humbling.”

In the meantime, the Kanes plan to offer a limited breakfast at their other business, the Trinity Meat Market, which is located five blocks north of the café on Hwy. 19, and extend the menu there. Breakfast will be offered from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

“This will give some of our employees a place to be as we move forward to rebuild the café, as well as a place for our regulars to meet,” Dolores Kane said.

Trinity Volunteer Fireman Scott Womack said the fire started in a storage space, but the cause is currently unknown. 

The tragedy might have felt a bit nostalgic for some, as a similar fire took place in the mid 1960s when the Hudson Café burned to the ground across the street from the Trinity Café’s current location. The Hudson Café was considered a pillar in the community at the time, and had been bought and renamed “Triple A” before its demise. Trinity Volunteer Fire Department Chief Hayne Huffman fought that fire as well as the one at the Trinity Café. Firemen at the time thought the Hudson’s fire had been extinguished, but it somehow rekindled and diminished the building. 

To support the Trinity Volunteer Fire Department, attend their upcoming fish fry fundraiser on Sunday, April 2 at the fire department from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Bear Chase Marathon to celebrate tenth year in Groveton

By Chris Edwards

For the tenth year now, Groveton will be the site of an event that one of its organizers considers to have a “cult following” in the world of marathon running. 

The Davy Crockett Bear Chase Marathon, which begins bright and early at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 8 is a 26.2-mile total test of fitness that keeps participants coming back year-after-year. From runners who make the sport their life to novices and everyone in between, the event organizers promise that the Bear Chase is a way for participants to “get back to the roots of running.” Houston-based runner Paula Boone, along with her husband Steve, started the event in 2007. Paula Boone said initially the event was launched to help out with the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce, but proved quite popular. “The community has really gotten behind it, and that’s why we keep going back,” she said.

Aside from the outpouring of local support, the Bear Chase is also a great marathon for first-timers to cut their teeth on, Paula Boone said. However, from novices to veterans of hundreds of marathons, the Bear Chase boasts a varied base of runners. Participants come to Groveton from all over the country, and in the past the race has even hosted runners from the United Kingdom. The Boones, who also run the 3,700-member strong Fifty States Marathon Club, credit a great deal of what gives the event its appeal to the idyllic setting. “The small-town America feel is what people really like about it,” Paula Boone said.

A big part of the appeal for Paula Boone, personally, also has to do with the level of involvement that the city of Groveton offers to the event, as well as the camaraderie and opportunity of meeting new people. Prior to the race, on Friday night, a pasta dinner will take place for the runners and their families in the Groveton Elementary School cafeteria, free of charge. 

It lasts from 5 p.m. until 7. The dinner that has become a tradition during the race and something that Paula Boone considers one of the many highlights of the event. “The pasta party is always a lot of fun,” she said.

The marathon itself has different events, with each accommodating runners of varied levels of experience and age. The 26.2-mile main event is a cycle of twice around a 13.1-mile course, which features pavement and forest roads in and around the city. 

It will start at Groveton High School Athletic Field and proceed to the roads and streets, eventually returning to the starting point. 

Runners are also able to compete in a half-marathon, a 5K run or a Possum Walk event, which is one mile (four laps) around the track. All participants in the event will receive a medal and a stuffed bear. In keeping with the race tradition, Paula Boone noted that T-shirts for this year’s event will feature caricatures depicting 10 bears in hot pursuit of Davy Crockett. Boone said the number of bears increases with another year and race on the books. 

Each of the Boones have hundreds of marathon appearances to their credit, yet it’s the thirst for the camaraderie that keeps them participating, Paula said. “It’s also a great way to meet new people, to travel and see the world,” she said.

 The entry fees for participants range from $15 to $90. Registration can be done online (until April 6) by visiting Participants can also print their application to bring on Friday evening or before 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

You can also call the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce office at 936-642-1715 for information or a registration form.