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Three careers coming to end at Williams CHP
They have worked out of three offices — and a trailer — and to a man said the day the first of those buildings went up in smoke is one of the most memorable in their long careers.
David Dawley, Bill Cobb and Kent Rockenstein have a combined tenure of nearly 89 years of service with the California Highway Patrol — about 75 percent of which was spent in Williams.
Each is calling it quits today.
"I will sweep the stoop, raise the flag and empty the trash," said David Dawley of his last day on the job, which will be a lot like all the other days on the job.
He has been the only janitor for the Williams CHP office for 36 years.
But Feb. 25, 1999, was a different day.
"My scanner went off and it said there was a fire at the California Highway Patrol office," Dawley recalls.
At first, it was believed the fire was in the back shed, but that proved to be wrong.
Instead, hot tar from a roofing project dripped down into the back of the office, ignited tires that were hanging on the wall and burned down a good portion of the CHP office.
It meant the office staff and patrol officers worked out of a trailer for a number of months before moving into the old Williams police station at Seventh and North streets.
The trio of retirees look back with some fondness of that old building, laughing at the fact they had to sandbag portions of it because it always flooded after a big storm.
Still, it was better than the trailer.
Dawley looks back at it with some fondness because it was smaller than all the other facilities, and considerably smaller than the new building the CHP moved into in 2005.
Rockenstein started his career as an auto technician in January 1989 at what was then called the Motor Transport Section. It is now referred to as the Fleet Operations Section.
Raised in the Yuba-Sutter area, he has never moved from the Yuba City region, commuting to Sacramento and then Williams for the last 21 years.
He holds the distinction, of sorts, as working on the last Dodge Diplomat in the CHP fleet.
Mostly, however, he worked on Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Caprices and the current motor pool of Crown Victorias that are being phased out.
And like Dawley, was the only auto technician at the office.
His twin brother, Keith, who works out of the Fleet Operations Section, has been assigned to Williams until a replacement is hired.
Kent Rockenstein said he will turn woodwork to fill his time.
"I plan on keeping busy. I enjoy woodworking, so I am going to build furniture," he said.
One of the first projects, though, will be a fireplace mantle that his wife has been asking him to build for a long time.
If someone wants to find Cobb, the likely location will be on the Arbuckle golf course or somewhere out riding motorcycles, or out fishing or hunting.
In short, after nearly 29 years of chasing speeders and other criminals, Cobb plans to slow down.
The Arbuckle native and Pierce High graduate spent 20 of those years in Williams.
His last arrest is a memorable one, and one Cobb said is a good one to go out on.
A man who nearly caused a huge wreck on Highway 20 was chased down on Lonestar Road.
"It was nice to say, 'You are arrested,'" Cobb said.
But it has not always been great.
After spending four years as a motorcycle patrolman in Los Angeles, another four in South Sacramento, coming home has meant responding to crashes and other calls involving family and friends.
Still, the two time Colusa Rotary Club CHP Officer of the Year has no regrets.
"All of it's been good," Cobb said.