Lewis Griswold

Griswold: Workers at Hanford plant donate their safety prize money

Exopack in Hanford, which makes bags for cement, dog food and other products, has donated $2,600 to Toys For Tots -- $100 in the memory of each of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

General manager David Serpa said corporate headquarters awarded the 80-employee plant $2,500 for its no-injury safety record in 2012. The money must be donated to a local charity.

Serpa met with employees to seek ideas and settled on giving the full amount, plus $100, to the Marine Corps-sponsored Toys For Tots in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.

"Our hearts go out to the families whose children and loved ones have been taken away and those local families that are less fortunate than us in our community," Serpa said.

Friday, Marines accepted the donation at the plant. Additionally, employees gave toys that they had collected to the Marines' toys drive.

CAR WINNER: Ursula Ybarra, 80, of Cotton Center, is the lucky winner of a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.

Ybarra, who drives daily to her job at a truck sales company, bought a raffle ticket from the Tulare County Deputy Sheriff's Benevolent Association, which was raising money for the Sheriff's Police Activities League. The winning ticket was drawn Dec. 16.

Ybarra got the keys last week at a special presentation at Giant Chevrolet/Cadillac in Visalia.

Jim and Jack Petty, co-owners of the dealership, donated the car.

RETIRING: Four longtime employees are retiring from the Tulare County Sheriff's Department effective Friday. In total, they've got 142 years of experience.

Undersheriff Dahl Cleek, 58, is leaving after 38 years.

He started as a deputy constable at the old Tulare Justice Court while still in the Army reserves, then was hired as a deputy at the jail.

He has worked in detentions, investigations, dive team, search and rescue and K-9. After being promoted to sergeant in 1986, he held several command positions. He has been undersheriff -- the No. 2 position -- since 2009.

In the community, he is on the board of Pro-Youth Heart, an after-school education program.

Capt. Jim Hinesly, 58, has spent his whole career at the Sheriff's Department -- and loved it. He started as a cadet in 1975 and worked every division. Currently, he is in charge of patrol. He also has managed detentions and investigations.

He has been president of the Deputy Sheriff's Association and the Professional Law Enforcement Managers Association.

His community work included serving on the board of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Tulare County.

Also retiring: Lt. Gary Chambers, 57, who joined the department in 1978 as a reserve deputy and is commander at the Cutler-Orosi substation; and Lt. Ramon Alanis, 53, who started as a cadet in 1980 and is a gang expert in charge of the Gang Violence Suppression Unit.