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Gas leak prompts evacuation

WILLCOX — Monday, April 8, was disrupted as a gas leak led to the evacuation of homes.

The gas leak was located in the area near Austin and Wasson streets in Willcox. A 2-inch plastic gas pipeline was punctured, causing the gas to escape at 9:20 a.m. The police and fire departments were called to the scene, notifying residents in the area to evacuate their homes.

The Willcox Public Works Department was called to shut off the gas valves. By 10:15 a.m., residents were given the go-ahead to return to their homes.

The leak, located directly on the southwest corner of Austin and Wasson, was caused when a Willcox City Streets worker punctured it accidentally with a backhoe. The Range News contacted the Public Works Department and spoke to Director Galo “Nalo” Galovale regarding the incident.

Galovale told the Range News it was because of soil conditions in the City of Willcox that the road crew were digging so deeply as to disturb the pipe. Also, the markings depicting the gas line’s location were slightly off. It was due to these conditions the crew hit the pipe.

“We were able to shut off the valve, make the repair, get it tested and get all 18 homes that were shut down (the gas to the homes that were turned off) back on. There were a few homes, maybe two or three homes, that were left off because the homeowner wasn’t in the home,” Galovale said. “Normally we don’t do turn-ons, for gas. But in this case, the situation was on our side and not the customer’s fault. We were the ones that caused the turn-off. The guys were able to respond, nobody was hurt, and everything was taken care of in the end.”

Before having individuals return to the affected neighborhood, the Public Works Department tested the pipe that was patched for additional leaks. To effectively fix the leak, 5 feet of the pipe was replaced.

Annual health fair debuts telemedicine

WILLCOX — The annual health fair boasted familiar faces representing community resources but also premiered a new virtual app for doctor visit access.

Brooke Curley Photos/Arizona Range News  

Visitors to this year’s health fair were able to learn how various medical instruments, such as sonogram machines, can detect illnesses.

The fair, located at Northern Cochise Community Hospital, was a free event, with nearly 40 booths manned by individuals from within the community on Thursday. Noted booths included WASA (Willcox Against Substance Abuse) and the Willcox Food Pantry, the Volunteer Interfaith Caregiver Program (VICaP), as well as the Willcox Fire Department and Cochise County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue.

“The telemedicine program that we’re talking about at the community health fair today is TMC NOW, which is virtual urgent care. This is care for certain things like lower-level illnesses such as cold, flu, pink eye, ear infection, things that may happen outside of your regular physician’s office hours. You can access physicians 24/7, 365 days a year, through TMC NOW, and you can do that through your phone via video teleconferencing,” said Tucson Medical Center Telehealth Programming Coordinator L’Don Sawyer.

Brooke Curley Photo/Arizona Range News  

Tucson Medical Center Telehealth Program Coordinator L’Don Sawyer was at the fair and was giving demonstrations on how the TMC NOW app works to connect patient to doctor by technology.

“You download the TMC NOW app, then you can put in what your program is and why you want to see a physician. They will come on the screen and it costs $49, and they will evaluate, diagnose and call in a prescription to a pharmacy. Within 30 minutes, you can be on your way. It’s available to anyone, anywhere.”

“We have everything from opioid prevention, health and the Cochise County Search and Rescue,” said Ainslee Wittig, community relations coordinator for Northern Cochise Community Hospital.

“We are trying to make sure that people know what services people have in our area, not just in our hospital but also in the area. We have a bunch of behavioral health places that are here. Starting next month, we have telemedicine, which is going to be really exciting to have.”

Brooke Curley Photo/Arizona Range News  

Roxy Roffey, administrative clerk of the Cochise Health and Social Services, gave away kits that deactivate prescription drugs.