NAVY MACHINIST Gilroy native Caleb Byrum is serving aboard USS Iwo Jima. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
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Gilroy native serves aboard USS Iwo Jima

A 2013 Christopher High School graduate and native of Gilroy is serving aboard USS Iwo Jima, a U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Caleb Byrum, who joined the Navy five years ago, serves as a machinist’s mate responsible for being a fuel oil tester, lubricating oil tester, boiler water chemist for steam propulsion ships, a steam turbine generator operator and O2N2 Cryogenic Technician. 

According to Navy officials, amphibious assault ships are designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts.

According to Byrum, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Gilroy.

“The thing that I learned from my hometown that helped me the most within the Navy is how to be a great leader and how to hold myself with pride and professionalism,” he said.

Byrum said he is most proud of completing O2N2 Cryogenic school and getting Oil King qualified.

“Serving on the Navy means a huge commitment, a lot of time invested away from family and friends into the nation’s mighty Naval force to not only maintain it but make it better and stronger,” he said. 

McPhillips appointed as interim city clerk

The Gilroy City Council appointed LeeAnn McPhillips as interim city clerk on April 19.

Shawna Freels retired as city clerk on April 16, and Suzanne Guzzetta departed from the position of deputy city clerk on April 23.

McPhillips, who has worked for the City of Gilroy for nearly 22 years, is currently serving as the city’s Human Resources director.

She will fill the clerk position on an interim basis as the city conducts a search to permanently fill the position.

According to a city staff report, McPhillips will receive a five percent increase in her monthly salary during this time, bringing her total monthly pay to $18,039.

Film festival awards community

The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival awarded 10 local people awards during the final day of the festival’s 2021 event on April 20.

The Community Achievement Awards were presented to members in five of the festival’s hosting cities and towns (Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, Hollister and San Juan Bautista), honoring activity by individuals and groups that help make the event successful.

Receiving the awards were:

• Fred Tovar (Gilroy)

• Donald “Elvis” Prieto (Gilroy)

• Luca Rutigliano (San Martin)

• Rene Spring (Morgan Hill)

• Gary Ponzini (Morgan Hill)

• Cesar Flores (San Juan Bautista)

• Fran Fitzharris (San Juan Bautista)

• Ramiro Rodriguez (Hollister)

• Monica Lopez Ramirez (San Juan Bautista)

In addition, Carol Peters of Gilroy received the Art Icon Award.

To see the honorees, visit

‘Power of Vulnerability’ on display at Gallery 1202

Gallery 1202 is presenting “The Power of Vulnerability,” curated by the Tessera Arts Collective. 

This exhibition is a group show of California-based LGBTQ BIPOC artists. The show will take place at 7363 Monterey St. through June 4.

The opening reception will take place on May 1 from 6-8pm and the closing reception will be June 4 from 6-8pm. Masks and timed entry required.

The exhibit showcases the work of Jay Katelansky, Brannon Rockwell-Charland Cook, Calvin Coloma, Lee Oscar Gomez, T. Jay Santa Ana and Vanessa Wallace-Gonzales. Each artist, in their own styles and mediums, seeks to explore what it means to reject the myth of vulnerability as a weakness.

For information, visit

Gilroy crime case on national television show

A 2016 sex crime case involving a Gilroy teacher is the subject of a streaming television show.

“Web of Lies,” a streaming series on Discovery+, follows Douglas Le in a recent episode titled “The Enemy Within.”

Le, a San Jose man and former Gilroy chemistry and biotech teacher, had taught for nearly three years in Gilroy when San Jose Police arrested him in April 2016 and charged him with sex crimes involving minors.

In March 2017, Le was sentenced to time served, or 16 months of a possible 11-year prison term, for soliciting nude photos of young boys and other sex crimes.

Pacheco Reservoir project to receive EPA funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project is eligible to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funding. 

The Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project for Valley Water will join 55 other projects selected nationwide, bringing the total FY 2020 invitation amount to nearly $7 billion to help finance more than $18 billion for water infrastructure projects.

“Providing access to safe drinking water is one of EPA’s highest priorities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Water Division Director Tomás Torres. “Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a key role in supporting the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project to ensure safe and reliable drinking water in Santa Clara Valley for generations to come.”

According to the EPA, Valley Water has met the WIFIA engineering and creditworthiness standards and is now being invited to apply for FY 2020 funding.

The project will receive a $693 million loan from WIFIA. It will expand the Pacheco Reservoir to 140,000 acre-feet of water from its current 5,500 acre-feet by constructing a new dam, pump station, conveyance facilities and related infrastructure.

For information, visit

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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