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Five great things about Stockton

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Posted: Friday, March 7, 2008 10:00 pm

Time after time, Stockton gets beat down for things like foreclosure rates, crime and unemployment. Most recently, Forbes magazine ranked Stockton as the second most miserable city in the United States. But maybe it's time to stop criticizing and celebrate the virtues that make our neighboring city great.

1. Stockton Fire Department ranks high nationally

Since 1976, the Stockton Fire Department has been ranked as a Class 1 department by the Insurance Service Organization. The ranking scored fires departments from one to 10 throughout the United States and is based on response times, water hosing, staffing on fire engines and trucks, water systems, how often hydrants are maintained and communication.

"It's a very prestigious thing and it takes a lot to get there," said Ron Hittle, chief of Stockton Fire Department.

Harrison Ford starred in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in which he played professor Indiana Jones. (Courtesy photo)

With a city growing as fast as Stockton, it is difficult to maintain the status, and Hittle is doing all he can to keep it.

In Stockton alone, there are 13 fire stations, 276 firefighters and 35 support staff members doing communication duties.

2. Hollywood can't get enough of Stockton

For decades, Stockton has provided a backdrop for numerous big-budget films.

"Dead Man on Campus," starring Tom Everett Scott

"Flubber," starring Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden

"Inventing the Abbotts," starring Joaquin Phoenix, Liv Tyler

"Raiders of the Lost Ark," starring Harrison Ford

"Fat City," starring Jeff Bridges

"Cool Hand Luke," starring Paul Newman and George Kennedy

"Blood Alley," starring John Wayne, Lauren Bacall

"All the Kings Men," starring Broderick Crawford, John Ireland

A Buddhist statue, standing at over 10 ft. tall, is one of several decorating the Wat Dharmaram Temple in Stockton. (Dan Evans/News-Sentinel)

"Animal House," starring John Belushi, Tim Matheson

"7 Brides for 7 Brothers," starring Howard Keel, Jeff Richards

"World's Greatest Athlete," starring Tim Conway, John Amos

"The Sure Thing," starring John Cusack, Anthony Edwards

Source: University of the Pacific,

3. Where else can you find a 100-foot-long Buddha?

One of Stockton's churches offers an awe-inspiring look into the Buddhist world. Located at 3732 E. Carpenter Road in Stockton, Wat Dharmararam Buddhist Temple is home to seven angels that each stand more than 10 feet tall. The Cambodian temple's huge statues represent angels that are the protectors of the trees, sky, sea and the earth.

The statues, including a 100-foot-long Buddha on his deathbed, are representations of Siddhartha Gautama before he became Buddha.

Douglass Wilhout, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, says it is truly unique and one of the most beautiful sites in Stockton.

University of the Pacific is ranked among the top universities in the nation. (Courtesy photo)

4. University of the Pacific stands out among the best

Stockton's University of the Pacific is ranked among the top 100 national universities, both by U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges 2007" and the Washington Monthly's College Rankings. With more than 6,000 students enrolled at its campuses in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco, Pacific is one of the smallest universities to be ranked this high in a category dominated by large research institutions.

University of the Pacific spokesperson Patrick Giblin says its not just its academic achievements that makes Pacific stand out. It's old brick buildings, unique buildings and great landscaping with overgrown trees and lush lawns is an attraction for even non-students. Giblin says he often sees people walking their dogs and admiring the beautiful architecture.

5. Clint Eastwood, a chair of the honorary board of The Brubeck Institute.

The honorary board of University of Pacific's Brubeck Institute is made up of well-known musicians and supporters of the arts and entertainment. Members include Ken Burns (documentary-film maker), David Benoit (famous jazz pianist), Herb Albert (musician), Norman Leir (creator of TV show, "All in the Family") and Clint Eastwood and George Lucas.

Clint Eastwood is a chair member on the honorary board of the Brubeck Institute in Stockton. (Courtesy photo)

"Dave Brubeck is an American legend. He is an original who continues to make significant contributions to music, introduced a whole new generation to the world of jazz, and continues to explore the international language of music," said Eastwood, in a 2007 interview with

The Institute honors UOP alumni Dave and Iola Brubeck for their contributions in jazz. With the organization, the university hopes to build on Dave Brubeck's legacy and lifelong dedication to music, creativity and education.

There are five components to the program: the Brubeck Archive, Brubeck Festival, Outreach program, Brubeck Fellowship program and the summer jazz colony.

Other reasons to love Stockton

1. Stockton hosts numerous festivals and fairs throughout the year, including the Asparagus Festival, the San Joaquin County Fair and the Brubeck Festival.

2. Stockton is centrally located between two waterways and two freeways. "You can get anywhere from Stockton," said Douglass Wilhout, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce.

3. The weather is better throughout the year than most other cities across the country.

4. The Downtown Cineplex is one example of what makes Stockton great. Wilhout says when the city built the cineplex they hoped to have a million visitors by 2010. But in only 10 and a half months after being open, they surpassed their goal with over 1 million visitors.

5. There are many famous Stocktonians, including singer and songwriter Ace Andres, author Darrin Atkins, "Fat City" writer Leonard Gardner, astronaut and engineer Jose Hernandez, musician Chris Isaak, actress Janet Leigh and inventor Benjamin Holt.

6. Proximity to wine appellations of Lodi and the Mother Lode.

7. Douglass Wilhout says the Stockton port is critical to the state and to the nation for its import and export.

8. The historic Bob Hope Theatre (formerly Fox Theatre) in downtown Stockton is one of only two "movie palaces" in the Central Valley.

9. Chartered by the Supreme Court in 1951, University of the Pacific is one of the oldest universities in California.

10. Stockton is home to Stockton Ports (baseball), The Stockton Thunder (hockey), California Cougars (indoor soccer) and the Stockton Lighting (arena football).



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