Lewis Griswold

Farmersville to dedicate bench for abused children

A children’s bench similar to this will be dedicated in Farmersville as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
A children’s bench similar to this will be dedicated in Farmersville as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council

Farmersville – small, low-income and mostly Latino – is the first community in Tulare County to declare itself a Community for Child Well Being.

At 3:30 p.m. April 28 – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month – a children’s bench will be unveiled and dedicated at the White Church Museum at 811 Farmersville Blvd.

The public is invited. Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and other elected officials will be there.

Balloons will be provided for children, and the Farmersville High School band will perform.

“This is no ordinary bench,” said Billie Shawl, executive director of the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council. “The bench will be a permanent reminder that we are all responsible for the well-being of all children.”

The granite bench has the inscription “Dedicated to the Well Being of All Children,” a carving depicting a bear reading a book, and carved on the book is “Sophia’s Story.”

Sophia’s Story refers to Sophia Acosta, the 3-year-old girl allegedly killed by her mother’s boyfriend, who faces a death penalty trial.

“Sophia represents all children who are victims of abuse and neglect, not just in Farmersville or Tulare County, but everywhere,” Shawl said.

Shawl is working with Woodlake to be the next Community for Child Well Being.

KAWEAH OAKS: Kaweah Oaks Preserve east of Visalia will get permanent restrooms after years of porta-potties.

A U.S Army Reserve Innovative Readiness Team will do the construction, said Aaron Collins, communications director at Sequoia Riverlands Trust.

“It’s kind of unusual,” he said.

The Innovative Readiness Team, or IRT, is a national program that performs civil-military projects for training.

While here, they will visit La Sierra Military Academy in Visalia.

Digging is scheduled to begin Thursday.

Kaweah Oaks Preserve – a remnant of the oak tree forest that once carpeted the area – gets a lot of school field trips.

“Restrooms have been a long-term goal,” Collins said.

PROMOTIONS: Daniel Underwood has been promoted to Tulare County chief deputy district attorney, a position created last month.

Underwood will oversee the administrative functions of the District Attorney’s Office, including budget planning.

He graduated from the University California, Davis, in 1992 with a degree in mathematics and a juris doctor from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento in 1998.

Additionally, Kerri Lopez has been named assistant district attorney.

She began her career at the D.A.’s Office as a certified law clerk in 1996 and as a prosecutor in 1999. She graduated from California State University, Fresno, in 1994 with a degree in business and a juris doctor from San Joaquin College of Law in Clovis in 1998.

MIKE NOVIN, R.I.P.: Mike Novin, a retired sportswriter who worked at the Visalia Times-Delta for decades, has died. He was 75.

I posted the news on my Facebook page, and former colleagues wrote remembrances.

“One of the most likeable people you could ever meet, and the keystone of the newsroom,” Jim Freschi wrote.

Mike’s nickname was Bunky.

“Rest in peace, Bunky. You were always the nicest person in the room,” Dave Burns wrote.

Frank’s Superette store was only two blocks from the newsroom.

“We were just talking about Bunky last weekend and his runs to Frank’s for ‘sodies,’ ” Jamie Bray wrote. “A kind and gentle soul.”

He covered more Cowhide games than any other sportswriter.

Mike helped novice stringers to succeed.

“He made it fun even while I was scared out of my mind writing on deadline just minutes before the presses began to roll,” Justin Stoner wrote. “He was great.”

He knew sports and movies, and he had a vast collection of record albums.

For the past few years, Mike was a resident of Westgate Gardens Care Center in Visalia. He had Parkinson’s disease, but he managed to keep his sense of humor and exhibited tremendous spirit despite difficult physical challenges.

Mike was a good friend, and I will miss him.

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