Lewis Griswold

Griswold: Navy revives Lemoore copter search/rescue unit

The search and rescue helicopter team at Lemoore Naval Air Station is back in business.

For Navy pilots who might have to parachute to safety in training, the revival of the unit means a quicker rescue from dangerous environments, such as the ocean or mountains.

The unit's territory includes the Pacific Ocean, Sierra Nevada, China Lake, Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada and space in between.

A third Sikorsky MH-60S helicopter will be delivered Nov. 20.

For the general public, the search and rescue unit -- called "The Wranglers" -- means that other governmental entities such as the Park Service and local law enforcement can ask for help in emergencies such as wilderness rescue.

The Wranglers set up last month with about 40 active duty military, including pilots and crew, but must pass evaluations before being officially ready to go to work, base spokeswoman Melinda Larson said. That's expected by mid-December.

The base's previous search and rescue unit got the ax in 2004, but Lemoore's brass made the case to bring it back on the grounds that the West Coast training base for Pacific Fleet F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets needs a search and rescue unit.

MUSEUM: In a sign that a longtime dream is about to come true, ImagineU Interactive Children's Museum in Visalia announced last week that Monique Miron of CM Construction Services will be project manager for construction.

Groundbreaking will take place in spring 2013 and the museum will open a year later, said Cheryl Christman, president of the museum board.

ImagineU is the only children's museum within a three-hour drive of Visalia, she said.

The 14,000-square-foot, single-story building will be built at the southeast corner of Tipton Street and Oak Avenue. Russ Taylor of The Taylor Group is the architect.

Mill Creek runs by the site, and Brian Kempf of the Urban Tree Foundation will design a creekside trail, Christman said. Eventually, a city park will be to the east of the property.

Construction will be covered by a $5.4 million state grant from Prop. 84 parks and recreation money. Staff and programs must be covered by local fundraising, Christman said.

KIWANIS PARK: Visalia's newest neighborhood park is now open. Kiwanis Park, near McAuliff Street and Tulare Avenue in southeast Visalia, was dedicated Saturday.

The Parks and Recreation Commission asked the three Kiwanis service clubs in Visalia whether they'd like to have a park in their name, said Allison Lambert, city recreation specialist. The park has a basketball court, trail, tot lot, play area and lawn.

The Kiwanis clubs agreed to adopt the 3-acre park and do an annual cleanup.

Visalia has about 40 parks, and neighborhood parks provide open space and recreation within walking distance of homes.