Retired architect watched demolition of old court plaza fountain he designed

A construction crew began to tear down the iconic water feature at the downtown Stockton court plaza Monday

Glen Mortenzen, 90, stood on a grassy mound and looked on as a construction crew tore down the iconic water fountain he designed half a century ago.

“It’s a tearful thing,” said the retired architect. “Since 1956-57. We designed it. It’s been a long time.  The plaza. The walkway. Now it’s all gone.”

The court plaza in Stockton is under demolition, soon to be replaced by a new courthouse. The old court building is outdated and unsafe, officials say.

It was emotional and nostalgic for Mortenzen to watch the water feature be removed. “It’s something that should be preserved,” he said.

(I shared with him my experience as a child. My mother used to take us shopping downtown to Newberry’s, Rosenthal’s, Kress, etc. We bought lunch and sat by the fountain. We tossed coins in the water and made wishes. Watching the water fall down from this gigantic structure was the coolest thing to me — then about 6 years old.)

“There’s a story about somebody putting an octopus in it many years ago,” Mortenzen said.  True story, he said.

“There’s a lot of things that have happened,” he said. “It’s given a lot of people joy and happiness.

“It’s tearful. When you design something like that for the community, it tugs at the heart.”

It’s not all sad news for the fountain.

A new organization — Save Downtown Stockton Foundation — is planning to preserve the tall, copper, water-spewing sphere that used to be attached to the basin.

The organization is looking for a place in Stockton where the feature can be installed, said Christina Frankel, a board member of the foundation and a local architect.

“Hopefully, it will be re-installed someplace in the city and continue on,” Mortenzen said.




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Undocumented immigrant admitted to practice law

The California Supreme Court today announced that it granted a motion filed by the State Bar of California to admit Sergio C. Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, to the state bar.

It was a unanimous decision that he may practice law based in part on a new statute passed by lawmakers in September 2013 that clearly authorizes the court to allow undocumented immigrants to be admitted into the bar in 2014.

Garcia, born in Mexico in 1977, immigrated to California with his parents a couple of times as a minor. His father became a permanent resident in 1994 and filed an immigration petition for Garcia the following year.

“But, under current federal law, the number of available immigration visas that may be issued each year is limited and is based upon an applicant’s country of origin,” said a statement from the courts. ” Because the backlog of persons of Mexican origin who are seeking immigrant visas is so large, as of the date of the court’s opinion — more than 19 years after Garcia’s visa petition was filed — a visa number still has not become available for Garcia and may not become available for many years.”

Garcia attended Butte College; California State University, Chico; and Cal Northern School of Law, where he received his law degree in May 2009.  He passed the bar examination the same year 2009.


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ID featured Stockton case

Investigation Discovery last night featured a Stockton case in its “A Stranger in my Home” series.  Robert Turner, Valerie Nessler and Allen Periman were all convicted in the brutal murder of Jeffrey Wheatley, who was beaten, shot, stabbed and burned alive in his Stockton home.

View the schedule of upcoming show:

Read The Record’s story of Turner and Nessler’s sentencing:


For more coverage on this case visit


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Guerrero vs CDCR complaint

View the employment discrimination lawsuit filed by Victor Guerrero, of Stockton, against CDCR in the U.S. District Court: GutierrezLawSuit.


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San Joaquin County DAs Office benefits from $1.8 million lawsuit settlement

The Ventura County Star reported that several counties, including San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, have entered into a $1.8 million settlement with Blue Rhino and AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange in a consumer protection case. The lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court. Story:

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Victims of violence tree lighting

The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Unit and the Victims of Violent Crime of San Joaquin County jointly held a tree-lighting ceremony in honor of victims of violence.

The event, held Thursday (Dec. 5) evening at Weber Point, drew about 200 to 300 people.

Families of victims were provided tree ornaments to hang on a tree in memory of their loved one.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Freitas said there was a mix of families whose cases have been adjudicated and families whose cases are still pending.

For those with pending cases, Freitas said: “I think it gave them hope that someday their loved ones killer will be brought to justice.”

The event, he said, “is a tribute to their loss. And I think it gives them hope that things will get better and our community will get better and help is on the way.

The event featured speeches from a local chaplain and from Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Mulvihill.

Participants walked in procession around the block after the program.

The DA’s Office provided hot chocolate and cookies.

“The holidays are real tough times to be without loved ones,” Freitas said. And although, the event has a somber aspect to it, Freitas said, people were very positive about the changes to come.



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CDCR to hire about 7,000 correctional officers

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in a press release today said it expects to hire bout 7,000 correctional officers over the next three years.

The hires are due to an increase in retirements.

An outflow of  1,800 officers retiring annually has led to an urgent need, in some cases, to fill the positions statewide.
CDCR said new cadets get paid while they attend the state correctional academy. They also start earning health, dental and vision benefits and start accumulating retirement credits.
Job requirements:
•    High school diploma
•    Proof of U.S. citizenship
•    At least 20 years of age; must be 21 at time of appointment
•    Pass a drug test screening
•    Provide history of law-abiding behavior
•    Legally be able to own, posses and have custody or control of a firearm or other weapons     authorized by CDCR

Candidates will be tested and will undergo physical exams and a background investigation.

Then, there will be more training for those hired.
For more information:

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Drivon law school to hold swearing in ceremony

Press Release:       

“On Friday, December 6, 2013 at 6:00 p.m., Humphreys College Laurence Drivon School of Law will hold a “Swearing In Ceremony” for 16 Juris Doctorate candidates that recently passed the California Bar Examination.  The event will be held at Drivon School of Law located at 6650 Inglewood Ave. in Stockton, California.  Judge Franklin Stephenson will be officiating the event ….

The Drivon School of Law JD graduates who passed the July 2013 California Bar Exam are:

Claudia Aceves

Ashley Albertoni

Tamran Amaral

Hong Choi

Zachary Drivon

Janell Freeman

Tracy Fritch

Dru Hunt

Harmandeep Kaur

Richard Moths

Vita Palazuelos

Nicole Parsons

Ryan Roth

Spencer Sinclair

Kathy Trosclair

Rosalinda Ruppel


Please contact Patrick Piggott, Dean of Law for further information at (209) 478-0800.”

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Parenting classes address child abuse

The Women’s Center/Youth and Family Services of San Joaquin County works to prevent child abuse. Here is some information they sent me after I called regarding a story on an unusual verdict on a case of child abuse resulting in death (View story). The center did not comment on the case specifically.

“Parenting Classes
For parents who are stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, or just need a little help, Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services offers free parenting classes in English and Spanish at multiple sites and various times throughout San Joaquin County. Women’s Center-YFS provides education, resources and referrals to help restore parents’ self-esteem, their courage to set limits and their ability to cope with stress, anxiety and anger. The goal of program is to help parents become more confident and effective, reducing conflict and frustration in the family and giving children a more positive environment in which to thrive.

Women’s Center-YFS’ Basic Parenting Program offers an 8-week parenting course that covers self-esteem; ages and stages of development; appropriate boundaries; coping with stress and anger; communication; misbehavior and discipline; child sexual abuse prevention and the effects of domestic violence on children. Parents learn healthy discipline techniques and ways to encourage positive growth and development in their children.

Women’s Center-YFS’ Cooperative Parenting Program offers an extended 12-week parenting course for divorced or separated parents. Parents learn how to shield their children from parental conflict and establish a positive, long-term relationship as “co-parents.”

Classes are free and open to any local parent or guardian of children or teens. For more information, and to sign up for parenting classes, call Women’s Center-YFS’ Main Office at 209-941-2611 or email

Reporting Abuse
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect. Some individuals, because of their profession, are mandated reporters and are required by law to report suspected abuse. These include, but are not limited to, teachers, clergy, child care providers and medical professionals. Women’s Center-YFS encourages anyone who sees or suspects the abuse or neglect of a child to report their concerns. Reporting can get help to a family who needs it, it can protect children – it may even save the life of a child. To report abuse or neglect, contact your local law enforcement agency or call the Child Protective Services Hotline at(209) 468-1333.”

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Pat Withrow posts campaign video

The campaign for San Joaquin County Sheriff is heating up with the jail being a center topic. Pat Withrow, who is running against Sheriff Steve Moore, posted a campaign video on Youtube:

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