Merced County Sheriff's hanger dedicated to former undersheriff Bill Blake

In the North Valley, the Merced County Sheriff's office recognized a late deputy they say helped the department take flight.

Sheriff Vern Warnke dedicated the department's air operation facility to former undersheriff Bill Blake, who passed away last year. Deputies say he was instrumental in helping establish the air operation unit back in 2003.

Boy Scouts member Nathaniel Cavallero proposed the naming of the facility. His dad is the former sheriff and knew Blake while growing up. Cavallero also helped Blake's son, Kevin Blake, install the flag pole.

"When it came to the department, I think he was very innovative and he was an integral part in developing the aviation unit, and getting to the point where we're at today -- we have two helicopters and an airplane. It's come a long way in a short period of time and it's something I'm very thankful to be a part of," said Kevin Blake.

Deputies say the effort was funded by donations collected by the Boy Scout.
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