Saturday Shorts: There are heroes among us

01/31/2014 6:40 PM

01/31/2014 9:02 PM

It was a week of heroes and H2O. First to the heroes.

What can anyone say to a man who would reach into a burning vehicle and pull a child to safety? “Thank you” doesn’t seem adequate.

Chandra Barnard’s pickup swerved into the path of another pickup truck on Tuesday, crashing into it head-on. She was apparently killed in the impact. But her 3-year-old was strapped into his car seat in the back of the crew cab.

Jonathan Carroll was behind the truck Barnard hit. He rushed to the aid of the victims just as smoke started to appear from Barnard’s pickup.

That’s when he found little Jason.

If Carroll hadn’t acted immediately, there would have been another fatality on that road. Carroll works as an emergency-room nurse and spent 20 years as a paramedic. He has probably been involved in life-saving acts many times before and he’s probably come across worse scenes on highways. We doubt he’s ever had a greater impact on the life of one child.

We’re also grateful that Amanda Weimer happened onto the scene. She held young Jason, providing what little comfort she could as the horrific scene unfolded.

There are heroes among us, and we’re happy for it.

Though it wasn’t quite as dramatic, a man in Turlock likely saved the city’s play park. The unknown hero was passing by and spotted something suspicious, i.e. flames. He called the fire department then grabbed an extinguisher, limiting damage to only $500. Again, we’re glad he got involved. Not everyone would face a fire alone.

Perhaps the most welcome aspect of the rainfall we got Wednesday and Thursday was that it cleared the air. After 53 rainless days, everything seemed dusty, hazy and dry. After the rain, it was as if we were looking at the world through crystal, seeing clearly for the first time in weeks.

One thing remains abundantly clear: We are in a severe, prolonged and dangerous drought. The modicum of rain and snow that fell this week did almost nothing to relieve it.

The impact of that drought became even more pronounced Friday when the state delivered the devastating news that no water would flow from the State Water Project to south valley farmers this year. For the first time in history, they would get a “zero” allocation. It is now entirely likely that hundreds of thousands of acres will be fallowed and other steps will be taken to limit losses by those farmers.

Is it time to stop fooling around with calls for “voluntary conservation” and impose similarly drastic penalties on urban water users who ignore the real peril of going without that is being felt across our valley? Put water restrictions in place, increase the price of water from taps and use any money raised to mitigate the hardships on those who suffer the most.

It’s an interesting list of 21 people who have been chosen to sit on Stanislaus County’s new Water Advisory Board, whose task it is to develop recommendations for the county’s new groundwater rules. This week’s events – charges that Oakdale Irrigation District and others are water mining; Jerry Cadagan’s lawsuit to turn off recently permitted pumps – provide ample evidence of the importance and difficulty of the task facing this commission. They could have an enormous positive impact on groundwater use, but only if they do their job well. We have a lot of faith in many of the people on this list. But one thing is clear, if they don’t recommend real restrictions on removing groundwater and sending it to other counties, their efforts will be meaningless.

Finally, we should take note that tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. So do we root for the Seattle Seahawks, whose loudmouth defensive back knocked away the 49ers’ last chance at a berth? Or do we root for Denver, whose once-great rivalry with the Raiders has fallen into a demoralizing pattern of five straight Bronco victories? We’ll just hope for a game that keeps our interest into the second half. If not, it should be a nice day to mow the lawn. Never mind, the grass is already dead.

More about Valley issues

The Maddy Report offers excellent insight into the state’s most pressing issues each week. This week Bill McEwen, editor of The Fresno Bee editorial pages, and Visalia Times-Delta senior editor Melinda Morales join The Maddy Institute executive director Mark Keppler and California Auditor Elaine Howle. Expect to hear more about the drought. You can tune into KMJ (580-AM) at 10 a.m. or go to and grab the podcast.

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