Lewis Griswold

Tulare Co. deputy rescues elderly woman far from home

Tulare County Sheriff’s Deputy Osvaldo Gomez is a hero in the eyes of the family of an elderly woman he found lost, confused and far from home.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said he thinks “it was pretty fantastic” how the deputy responded.

Late last month, Gomez, a deputy at the Pixley substation, drove to Tipton to check on a report of a disoriented elderly woman. He found her inside her car, outside a gas station, the car nearly out of gas. She was alone.

After some investigation, the department found the woman’s family in Northern California. The family contacted friends to drive to Pixley, pick up her and her car, and take her home to Oakdale.

But the friends had a three-hour drive to get there, so Gomez made sure she stayed safe in the meantime.

“Deputy Sheriff Gomez was calm, confident, reassuring and without a hint of condemnation,” the woman’s son wrote in a letter of thanks to the sheriff’s department. “…He, with his own money, bought my mother dinner, comforted her with a blanket and teddy bear, and entertained her with the kindest of conversation. I could not be more grateful for these acts of kindness.”

Boudreaux said he’s proud of all the men and women of the department, but Gomez “epitomizes the essence of what we do every day. He took that extra step. He performed a service above and beyond the call of duty.”

CAL WATER VISALIA: Visalia residents watching their greenery fade to brown in the drought can be compensated with another kind of green – if they’re lucky.

California Water Service, which serves most homes and businesses in Visalia, is having a drawing for customers who reduce water use by at least 32 percent.

Ten customers will win a credit of $500 on their water accounts.

A drawing will be held Nov. 2 for bills dated Sept. 23 to Oct. 22, covering water consumption in the month prior to the bill date.

Customers who reduce water use between 32 and 40 percent compared to the same period in 2013 (yes, two years ago) will automatically receive one entry into the drawing.

Those who lower consumption between 41 and 49 percent will receive two entries, and those who trim water use 50 percent or more will receive three entries.

The drawing is open to all customers except Cal Water employees and their immediate families. The customer must have been continuously receiving water service at the same location since May 2013.

Cal Water has about 43,400 connections in Visalia.

WOODLAKE: Eight new portable classrooms have been installed at Francis J. Whyte Learning Center in Woodlake, and three buildings with shingles at the school got teal blue metal siding, said Drew Sorensen, superintendent of Woodlake Unified School District.

The cost was $2 million.

The school district borrowed $3.5 million at 1.8 percent interest for those and other projects, using a funding method called a Qualified Zone Academy Bond in which the lender gets a tax credit.

The funding option was approved by Congress in 1997 to help schools serving low-income students.

Next on the list: Two new tennis courts with lights, permanent visitor bleachers at the football stadium, and remodeling of the performing arts building on the high school campus.

Reporter Lewis Griswold covers news of the South Valley: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold