By Reggie Ellis
The Board of Supervisors approved a new sheriff's field office near Woodlake at its Aug. 23 meeting.
The Sheriff's Department will lease a 720-square-foot modular office building located on farmland near Highway 245 north of Woodlake. Sheriff's Capt. David Williams said the facility will provide the deputy assigned to the Woodlake-Lemon Cove-Three Rivers area with a place to do paperwork, conduct interviews, meet with area residents and serve as a command post for major incidents in the area. The area around the office includes a kennel where deputies assigned to K-9 units can exercise and water their dogs in a secure environment.
"It's a lot easier than doing paperwork in the front seat of your car," Williams said.
The deputy assigned to that area covers a large area including Highway 198 from Visalia to Three Rivers and Highway 245 from 198 to Badger. The locations provides easy access to Highway 245 and Highway 216 from Woodlake to Lemon Cove.
The news is welcome for Lemon Cove as a lack of public safety was a major concern voiced by all during a town hall meeting with District 1 Supervisor Allen Ishida on Aug. 10. Residents of the small community said they hardly ever see a sheriff's patrol car in the area and that several hours have passed before a deputy has shown up. Williams said the facility will help keep the officer in the area, as he will not have to drive to Visalia (the nearest sheriff's office) for basic office work and reports.
"This is a convenient location for us," Williams said.
The modular facility was donated by the George A. And Margaret A. Mollis Trust, which is leasing the property to the sheriff's department for no rent and free water now through June 30, 2008. The sheriff's department will pay for utilities and phone service charges. An existing well and utility hook up was used by a caretaker of the facility until last year. The Mollis family has been farming citrus in the Woodlake area for 35 years.
"This was my father's decision to do something for the community," Ron Mollis said of George Mollis. "The deputies have kind of thankless job and we wanted to help them too."
Now living near Newport Beach and not knowing many people in the sheriff's department, Ron asked Assemblyman Bill Maze to contact the sheriff's department to give some credibility to the offer.
"If we would have walked in off the street they might have thought we were cuckoo," Ron said. "I have to give a lot of credit to Bill Maze, Capt. Williams and Sheriff Bill Wittman for making this thing happen."