Reader reaction to Memorial Day listing

I received a few calls today from residents asking why I didn’t include certain Memorial Day ceremonies or why a lot of information was left out of an entry in today’s “Showing Respect” article —
I feel bad, but what was listed today were all the events submitted to us by cities and organizations who planned the events. If there’s an event you feel is missing, then whoever is organizing it never sent the Record word it was happening.
As for some things being left out — that was a space issue once again. Sorry, but it happens.
In one case, however, it appears we left out a guest speaker. Why is that? Apparently, this particular event is being put on by American Legion Ed Stewart Post 803, with help from Veterans of Foreign Wars Luneta Post 52. The listing I received was from the latter group, and the guest speaker for Monday’s 8:30 service at MLK park in Stockton, was not mentioned in said listing.
Nikki from Post 803 let me know that Councilman Moses Zapien will be the guest speaker at the event.
Again, I feel bad, but I only printed what came across my desk. I hope in the future more groups submit their event — no matter what holiday — to

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Lots of events planned for Memorial Day

I think a lot of people take Memorial Day for granted. to many, it’s just another day off from the grueling work week — at least, that’s how it felt to me growing up on the Bay Area’s San Mateo peninsula. You’d be hard-pressed to find a memorial ceremony down there.
Out here in San Joaquin County, I’ve seen a lot of events take place to honor our veterans on Memorial Day, which I think is awesome. If you’d like to go to one, I’ve compiled a list of Memorial Day events taking place throughout the county:

-The California Department of Parks and Recreation announced this week that veterans and those on active duty will be given free admission to state parks on Memorial Day.
-The Veterans of Foreign Wars Luneta Post 52 and American Legion Ed Stewart Post 803 are hosting a service at the Vietnam Memorial in MLK Park across from the Civic Auditorium at 11 a.m., and then heading to a wreath-laying ceremony at Parkview Cemetery, 3661 French Camp road in Manteca at 1 p.m.
-Members of the Go-Devils G.I. Jeep Club and the Military Vehicle Collectors of California will participate in a convoy starting at Cherokee Memorial Park at Hwy 99 & E Harney Lane in Lodi 9 a.m. They’ll make stops at Lodi Memorial Cemetery, Stockton Rural Cemetery, Temple Israel Cemetery in Stockton, Park View Cemetery in Manteca, Union Memorial Cemetery in Manteca and Collegeville Cemetery in Stockton.
-Cherokee Park & Funeral Home at Harney Lane and Highway 99 in Lodi will host the 58th Avenue of Flags Memorial Day Service at 10:30 a.m. Flag displays include 999 large Veteran flags lining the avenues of the cemetery; 7,293 small flags marking the burial sites of veterans; a Field of Flags honoring 6,847 combat veterans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a flag and name plaque tribute honoring 34 local veterans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott will be the guest speaker at Lathrop’s Memorial Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. at Manuel Valverde Park, 15557 Fifth Street in Lathrop. Elliott is a retired colonel with the U.S. Army’s Green Berets and represents Lathrop as part of District 5 on the board.
-The American Veterans Traveling Tribute will be on display at Woodward Park in Manteca from 12-3 p.m. on May 25. The tribute is an 80-percent scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial, the World War II tribute Collection, the Korea War tribute Collection, the 9/11 Tribute, police and fire tribute panels and the Fort Hood Tribute Panel.
-The American Legion’s Karl Ross Post 16 will host a Memorial Day ceremony at 1 p.m. at 2020 Plymouth Road in Stockton.
-The Lodi Elks Lodge will host a Memorial Day Ceremony at noon at 19071 Lower Sacramento Road in Woodbridge. Admission is $5, but veterans will be admitted for free. Lunch is at noon, and the service will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Masonic Cemetery on the corner of Lower Sacramento and Turner roads.
-Kautz Family Farms owner John Kautz will unveil a 7-foot-tall bronze statue of a soldier at Micke Grove Park Monday. The statue, created to honor World War II veterans, will be flanked by a wall made of bricks engraved with the names of fallen soldiers. A ceremony to honor veterans will begin at 4 p.m. Admission to the park will be free. A complimentary dinner will follow the ceremony on the big lawn at SJC’s Historical Museum and is open to all attendees.
-The Calaveras County Community Band will present a Memorial Day concert may 25 at 6:30 p.m. in Murphys Community Park. There is no admission. The band will perform a mixture of patriotic songs, Sousa marches and show tunes, as well as oldies. Attendees are encouraged to pack a picnic dinner.

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Further on on the water fee approved this week.

I’ve been with the Record a little more than a month, and I finally have my own blog, which i will use to provide additional information to you regarding some of the articles I write.
I tend to write lengthy pieces coming out of County Supervisor meetings as there is much discussion on many topics. However, There’s not always enough room in the paper for what I report to you.
For example, a county resident I quoted in my water fee story today said I failed to inform you that this fee does nothing to help those who are paying it. Well, I had originally written that in my article. But due to space constraints, it was omitted. So, I will provide the original copy of my article below:

A new fee enacted on all county residents will take effect in July that is geared toward helping fund critical water conservation efforts in San Joaquin County.
The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve a county-wide property related fee for water investigation at its May 19 meeting.
With the approval, county residents – including those who reside in incorporated city limits – will be charged the annual property fee.
According to county public works, the $1.25 million generated from this fee will be used to fund costs associated with groundwater monitoring and maintaining regional water rights.
The fee will replace a 25-year-old voter approved assessment that expires June 30, 2015, and will be based on land use, acreage and estimated population per property as of July 1.
As an example, a single family residence on a half-acre lot will pay an annual fee of $5.25, while an agricultural use on 640 acres could pay $275.10 a year.
About a dozen residents spoke during a public hearing required by Proposition 218 to voice their concern with the fee, as well as the county’s method of outreach.
Proposition 218 requires local governments to give property owners the opportunity to vote on any new or increased assessment before approval, as well as send proper notification to residents at least 45 days prior to a public hearing.
The measure also requires agencies to accept protest votes in response to rate changes or increases. If more than 50 percent of the population votes ‘no,’ the proposed change does not take effect.
Interim public works director Michael Selling said notifications had been sent to all 217,699 property owners in the county. Only 37,398 protest votes had been received by a noon deadline Tuesday.
Several residents in attendance were frustrated with the fact the county modeled fees after similar rates in the San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland consumer price index, a monthly collection of data on changes in prices paid by urban consumers for certain goods and services collected by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Kimberly Walsh said the proposed fees are too high for residents in the San Joaquin Valley and should stay in the Bay Area. Walsh was one of many who suggested the county impose a fee based on water usage rather than parcel size.
“We don’t have the salary bases or incomes like they do in the Bay Area,” she said. “We’re all farmers. We don’t water all year. It’s your schools, businesses and industries that are using water every day.”
Selling told supervisors Tuesday that there are only three consumer price indexes in California – for the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles area and the San Diego area. Staff chose the CPI closest to San Joaquin County, he said. There is no CPI published for san Joaquin County, he said.
Rick McMaster argued that the fees collected at the end of the year will be used on administration and personnel, rather than replenishing the area with water, which is what the county really needs.
“There’s nothing in the notice you mailed out that says this fee will help maintain or restore our groundwater,” he said. “It’s getting out of hand. If the money really does go to restoring our groundwater, then that’s where it should go.”
Selling maintained the funds will go toward costs to investigate groundwater levels and make sure local water districts are able to keep their water rights and programs.
Last year, the state legislature mandated that local water districts and agencies submit annual groundwater sustainability plans to the Department of Water resources.
If local water agencies cannot manage their water resources to the state’s liking, then the state will move in and take control of the program to ensure water is being managed effectively.
Davis Gillingwater said sending notices out and only allowing one voter per property was unfair and not a proper way to gauge the community’s opposition to what many in attendance called a new tax.
Gillingwater urged the board to postpone any decision on the proposal until it could be retooled and presented a second time.
“You need to rewrite this, put it in the general election and let people vote on it,” he said. “Then you’ll get an accurate count of people who really do want it or not.”
Selling said state law prohibits the fee from being voted on in an election because it deals with water. He added that the new fee will not be significantly different than the assessment residents had already been paying for 25 years.
While the funds collected will not be used to purchase water or brig more water to the area, vice chairman Chuck Winn said the fee will help the county maintain its current supply so the state doesn’t take over.
“We are all trying to do everything we can to make sure the future is brighter, and that we have water for all residents,” he said. “I think we can come up with a plan that will better serve our needs and address (residents’) concerns.”

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Today is my last day at The Record. It has been almost 10 years since I started as an intern, then later became a full-time reporter covering the education beat. After more than two years, I switched beats, covering San Joaquin County government, mostly, since the tail end of 2007.

Until today.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Stockton and San Joaquin County while telling all sorts of stories over the past decade. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to all the readers, sources, friends and colleagues I’ve met in the process. And I am proud to have been a part of The Record and the role it plays keeping people informed, both about what is interesting and what matters most to the community.

I may be leaving The Record, but I’m not leaving this community. In a way I’m going back to where I started, covering education. I start a new job next week as the Public Information Officer for the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

So I won’t be contributing to this blog anymore, but you can still find me on my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter. I’ll still have the same cell phone number.

If you need to contact somebody about some news, call Deputy Metro Editor Barbara Zumwalt at (209) 546-8258 or send her an email at

Thanks everybody. See you around.

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Transparency at the pump

San Joaquin County’s weights and measures division is celebrating 100 years of making sure the scales and other measuring devices used commercially in the county are accurate reflections of the amount of goods being bought and sold. Today’s story also mentions the important of trusted standards of measurement for the economy.

Building up trust in customers is one of the reasons why Ye Olde gasoline pumps had glass chambers showing how much gas was being delivered. The San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum has one of those old pumps in its collection.

Or, to be more precise, it is a Vizo Cut No. 83 Gasoline Pump made by the Boyle-Dayton Co. of Los Angeles.



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14 common spots in homes where mosquitoes can breed

Courtesy of San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District

Mosquitoes can breed just about anywhere, as long as they have half an inch of water for more than five days. Officials with the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District said the warm weather this winter has started the population growing early. But residents can help slow it down by eliminating breeding spaces in their homes and gardens.

Here are some of those places, and how to keep them mosquito-free:

Record File 2004

Trash bins: keep lids shut tight and drill drain holes in the bottom

Boats: check boat covers every week for puddles

Bird baths and fountains: clean or hose out every week

Rain gutters: keep clean

Tires: drill holes in tire swings, store tires in covered areas

Water bowls for pets: rinse and fill once or twice a week


Record File 2007

Water troughs and ponds: stock with free mosquitofish provided by the district

Drains: make sure drains are not clogged

Lighting: check inside and on top of outdoor lights for water

Rot holes in trees: check with an arborist how best to deal with these

Record File 2011

• Chain-link fences: cover fence posts with caps

Water under home: remove using a sump pump

Septic tank: cover vent pipes with fine mesh, cover manhole lids with plastic and place several inches of dirt or sand over most of the area

Wheelbarrows: remove collected water or store them upside down

— Source San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District


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The 411 on 211

Today’s story was about a referral database that officials decided would be redundant when San Joaquin County gets a 211 system later this year. Basically, 211 is a phone number people can call to get hooked up to services. There’s a website, too.

I’m told that San Joaquin is the largest county in the state to not yet have a 211 system. But that is expected to happen later this year. Actually, it is expected to go live on April 1. That’s what Kay Ruhstaller told me when I checked in on its status today. She’s the executive director of the Family Resources and Referral Center, which is running the system.

The nonprofit organization is looking for any other nonprofits that have not already signed up to be a part of the system.  They can call (209) 948-1553 and ask to speak to Tran Nguyen.


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Advocates planning next steps after immigration decision

Since I filed my story about the response to a judge’s decision to halt executive action from President Obama that would allow millions of undocumented residents to work and live legally in the country I heard that planning is already underway on what to do next in San Joaquin County.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Elvira Ramirez and El Concilio President Jose Rodriguez said the local coalition met this morning.

There will be workshops in Stockton and elsewhere in the county in March for people interested in applying for the two programs can get help, Rodriguez said. One program expands a program allowing people who entered the country illegally when they were children to remain. The other program focuses on parents of citizens and legal residents.

“We are talking about real people with real lives,” he said. And those lives are being put on hold because of the court ruling he said.

But he think it will only be a delay, and encouraged people to count on turning in their applications.


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Old investigation into Supes still open

In the past month of brouhaha surrounding the chairmanship of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, there’s been a lot of talk — and some action – about calling for an investigation into whether or not the state’s open meeting laws had been violated at the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

It’s not something that falls under the purview of the Fair Political Practices Commission. But the political watchdog does currently have an “active and open” investigation into members of the Board of Supervisors, according to the FPPC today.  Here’s the original story about the complaint filed in 2012. Here’s a story on the creation of the PAC.

That was the year Measure D failed. It would have extended term limits. The political action committee supporting the measure was primarily funded from the campaign committees of former Supervisor Ken Vogel and current Supervisors Steve Bestolarides and Carlos Villapudua.

An opponent of the term-limits measure thought the three had run afoul of state campaign-finance law and filed a complaint that led to the investigation, which is still open more than two years later.



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New French Camp VA facility in proposed budget

Local and regional veterans who have had to drive as far away as Palo Alto for appointments in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health system have been pushing for years for the building of new facilities in French Camp.

The latest push has been to make the project a high enough priority to be included in the federal budget. Well that just happened. At least funding was included in President Barack Obama’s proposed FY2016 budget.

It’s inclusion drew bipartisan support from San Joaquin County’s two congressmen, who released  joint statements praising the news.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton:

The president heard our bipartisan call for action and included funding for the French Camp project in his budget for the VA. … I have been pressing the administration since I came to Congress to build this facility. Veterans in the Central Valley are waiting too long and driving too far to get the quality care they have earned.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock:

The inclusion of the French Camp Veterans Affairs clinic in the President’s budget request is a major step forward to bringing high quality healthcare to veterans right here in the Central Valley. … However, it is clear that we must remain vigilant in our oversight to ensure that the project is completed on-time and on-budget. We worked on a bipartisan basis to get to this point, and I’m pleased to see French Camp funding take priority in the President’s budget.

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    Wes Bowers

    A native of Pacifica, he lives in Lodi with his wife Lorraine. He’s covered just about every journalism beat in the Bay Area since 2000, as well as in the Lodi-Stockton area since 2013. He has a large collection of Judge Dredd comics, Spaghetti ... Read Full
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