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Probe: June 24, 2002

June 24, 2002

QUESTION: After I got out of federal prison, I found out I owed $17,000 in back child support. I had only one child and was separated from my child's mother only because I was locked up.

When I was in prison, I had no income and no way of paying child support.

Since I have been out, I can't get on my feet. The interest on the back support is building up faster than I can pay it. Now I owe $23,000. The state grabs my income tax refunds. I am riding a bicycle because the Department of Motor Vehicles took my driver's license.

About a year ago, I read in PROBE there is a movement to give amnesty to fathers so far in arrears on child support they can never catch up. What's going on with that? — In-the-Hole, El Centro

Why don't you go in and talk to George Holbrook, currently heading up the county family support office.

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He said he's familiar with your case and may be able to help you.

The Child Support Amnesty issue seems to be dead in the water, according to Holbrook. With the state facing its own lean times, the governor is not inclined to write off millions of dollars in unpaid child support, he said.

But most of the money will never be collected, he said. Some men who make minimum wage in seasonal jobs owe $20,000 or $30,000. Some have gone underground where they work "under the table" at the mercy of unscrupulous employers.

QUESTION: I am from Alabama, visiting my sister in El Centro. Why is there no help for a man with children? A woman with children can go to welfare. A man always has to go to his mama's house. — Visitor, El Centro

A man with children and no income can go to welfare and get the same benefits as a woman can get.

But let's face it, man or woman, you'll get help quicker at mama's house than you can get at the welfare department.

A FAMILY TREE — I am trying to put together a family tree on their father's side for my daughters. I know their grandfather died in October or November of 1977 in an accident involving a back hoe or crane in one of your canals. I am sure there must have been something in your paper about this.

The name of my children's grandfather was John Troy Walton. His wife was Kathy Walton. — Searcher, e-mail

That was almost 25 years ago. Our newspapers that old are on microfilm. It would help if we had an exact date so we would have fewer issues to search. A crane or a backhoe in a canal makes us think he might have worked for Imperial Irrigation District. That's our water and electric company.

We're going to turn this search over to our always helpful PROBE readers. OK, readers, if you knew Mr. Walton or recall that accident, call us at 337-3448 or e-mail Searcher at areu69@aol.com

HOT FOOTING IT — My husband worked at U.S. Gypsum at Plaster City until he retired after 33 years. He always said lizards run across the hot sand with a wood chip or leaf in their mouths. When their feet get hot, they drop the chip or leaf and stand on it to cool their feet. Has anybody else heard this? Or is my hubby kidding me? — Skeptical, Seeley

Either your hubby stood out in the sun too long, or he's kidding you.

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