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Local News

League of California Cities members gather in Lodi

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California, welcome to Lodi.

Lodi Lake nature area flooded

Lodi Lake nature area flooded

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A continuous series of storms that has slammed California with a torrent of water in recent weeks has taken a toll on Lodi. From flooding to d…

Two men arrested in Galt homicide

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GALT — Jose Luis Arriaga, 22, and Gonzalo Rodriguez, 28, both of Galt, were arrested Wednesday and booked into the Sacramento County Jail on s…

Lodi shopping center approved

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The Lodi Planning Commission unanimously approved a use permit and alcohol license for the retail center and Papapavlo’s planed for north Scho…

Victim in Parkwest Casino death identified

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LODI — The San Joaquin County Coroner has identified the man who died at Parkwest Casino during what may have been an attempted robbery on Fri…

City of Galt partners with youth commission for economic growth survey

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GALT — What top five entertainment venues would you like to see in Galt?

Rotary Club, Parks Department to combat erosion at Lodi Lake

Rotary Club, Parks Department to combat erosion at Lodi Lake

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In an effort to preserve Lodi Lake from the threat of erosion, the Lodi Tokay Rotary Club along with Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Servi…

Community members call for Lodi Unified to identify as safe haven

Community members call for Lodi Unified to identify as safe haven

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A son of immigrants, the family of a historical figure, a former refugee, teachers and many others took to the podium at Tuesday night’s Lodi …

Council votes to fund roof repairs for Hutchins Street Square

Council votes to fund roof repairs for Hutchins Street Square

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The Lodi City Council approved the appropriation of $50,000 in parks and recreation funds for one of several repairs needed at Hutchins Street…

Marcus Amann sentenced to more than 10 years for assaulting two Lodi police officers

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Marcus Amann, 19, of Lodi, who was charged with assaulting two Lodi police officers outside of his home last year, was sentenced Tuesday at th…

Local Sports

SJS Boys Basketball Playoffs: Hawks dismantle Blazers in opener

SJS Boys Basketball Playoffs: Hawks dismantle Blazers in opener

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GALT — One of the reasons why that the Liberty Ranch High boys basketball team won its second consecutive Sierra Valley Conference title is be…

SJS girls soccer playoffs: Flames fall in first round after late surge

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The Lodi High girls soccer team has trouble knowing when to stick a fork in its season and call it done.

Alumni Update Feb. 22

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Taylor Brooks

High school playoffs: Roseville outruns No. 12 Lodi

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Lodi High’s successful season in girls basketball came to a halt on Tuesday when the Flames ran into a buzzsaw in the first round of the Sac-J…

SJS Boys Soccer D-I Playoffs: Tokay win a long time coming

SJS Boys Soccer D-I Playoffs: Tokay win a long time coming

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The last time that the Tokay High boys soccer program won a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff game, none of this season’s current players…

Wrestling: Tokay sends 9, Lodi 5 to Section Masters

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Tokay High will send nine wrestlers to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Meet next weekend after they placed in the top eight at the D…

Tokay wrestlers moving forward with college plans

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STOCKTON — They helped put Tokay High girls wrestling on the map.

Girls wrestling: Back-to-back section championships for Tigers

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STOCKTON — Tokay High girls wrestling coach George Bozovich made a deal with his squad.

Twice is nice: Tokay’s Katie Price started for two teams this winter — goalkeeper in soccer and forward in basketball

Twice is nice: Tokay’s Katie Price started for two teams this winter — goalkeeper in soccer and forward in basketball

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For the last three months, Katie Price has been living life in the fast lane.

Soccer playoffs: Tokay hosting Division I opener; Galt earns No. 1 seed in D4

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Six area high school boys and soccer teams will begin their third season next week.

Most Popular

  • Victim in Parkwest Casino death identified

    LODI — The San Joaquin County Coroner has identified the man who died at Parkwest Casino during what may have been an attempted robbery on Friday, Feb. 17.

  • Katie’s Story

    Katie’s Story

    On a recent fall morning, in a booth at a Lodi coffee shop, Katie Romanek sips from a bottle of water and talks about her life.It is a life that’s had travails and trauma, but one that now holds great promise.Katie, 33, wears a striking autumnal print of orange, gold and black, along with a quick and radiant smile.“I feel like my life was in a rut for a time,” she says. “But I feel strong now. I want to speak up about what I’ve gone through. I want to help others.”More than 20 years ago, when she was a 12-year-old student at Vinewood School, Katie was kidnapped from her home in Lodi’s Sunwest neighborhood.Her abductor, an ex-felon high on meth, drove her into the rolling hills southeast of Lodi. After a massive search that drew national media attention, the ex-con, Steven Reece Cochran, was arrested, and Katie was rescued.Her story is part of an upcoming series titled, “They Took Our Child: We Got Her Back.” The series premieres Oct. 7 on the Lifetime Movie Network Channel. Katie’s case will be featured on Oct. 28.Katie, her sister, Elizabeth Christian, her father, Bob Romanek, and former Lodi police chief and mayor Larry Hansen are among those interviewed for the segment.Katie says she hesitated to be part of the show. Her ordeal was many years ago, after all, and it left painful scarring. Somehow, the distant nightmare seemed quite personal.“At first, I thought by speaking out, I would somehow be selling my soul,” she says. “But I am coming to see myself as a survivor, not a victim.”Crime of the decadeFor Lodi, it was the crime of the decade.On July 2, 1994, Cochran, 25 at the time and fresh out of prison, was roaming through Lodi, fueled by meth. He tricked Katie into letting him into the home near Lower Sacramento Road, where she was spending the afternoon with her sister, Elizabeth, 16 at the time, and a friend, then 13. (The friend has chosen not to speak publicly about the incident.)Cochran terrorized the girls, grabbed Katie at knifepoint, and fled with her in the family’s Pontiac Fiero. He rushed east into the brown hills southeast of Lodi, but the Fiero got stuck in a field, igniting a grass fire.With Hansen at the helm, the Lodi police reacted swiftly. Every available officer was called in and an all-points bulletin was issued. Supervisors were instructed to follow up the bulletin with calls to every law enforcement agency within 100 miles with an urgent message: Be on the lookout for the Fiero.Hansen had attended a seminar only weeks before on lessons learned from the case of Polly Klaas, the 12-year-old Petaluma girl who was taken from her home and killed in 1993, less than a year earlier.He knew time was of the essence.Smoke from the grass fire off Highway 26 drew the response of firefighters, who ran the Fiero’s license plate.What followed was the biggest search in the history of the Lodi Police Department.As day turned to night, police, sheriff’s deputies and FBI officers converged on the field. More than 100 officers were involved in the operation.In Lodi, meanwhile, fliers by the hundreds with Katie’s image were printed and distributed. Dozens of volunteers stepped forward to help. Local churches set up special prayer lines.The next morning, officers found Cochran wandering through the grass and oak-studded hills and seized him.Twenty-five minutes later, Katie was found.When word reached the Lodi Police Department that Katie was alive and safe, there was an immediate ovation.Inspired by atiny creatureKatie was alive and physically intact, but she had been abused by Cochran, as had Elizabeth. For Katie, the abuse continued, off-and-on, through much of the time she was held in the grassy hills, ending only a few hours before she was recovered.The night of the abduction, Cochran kept her partially submerged in a pond, trying to avoid heat-seeking technology being used by search helicopters.Desperate, she prayed, reciting the Lord’s Prayer to herself. Then, just a few feet away in the pond, she noticed a frog.“It was a living thing. For some reason, it reminded me of my pet chinchilla back at home,” she said. “With the frog close by, somehow I knew I was going to make it.”Repeatedly during the nightmare, Cochran said he was going to rape her, though his abuse did not escalate to that level.“I would phrase it as terror; he terrorized me, sexually terrorized me,” she said.When sunlight brushed across the hills in the morning, she asked Cochran if he still intended to rape her.“He said no. He said he’d been high on meth the previous day and night, but he wasn’t high anymore, and he was letting me go,” she said.Ultimately, Cochran was sentenced to 106 years in prison. He is 46 now, held at Salinas Valley State Prison, according to state corrections records.Cochran told probation officers he was abused as a child and was locked up at age 12 after burning down a house.Katie said she never felt Cochran was going to kill her.In fact, by the time he left her next to the pond in the morning, she felt an attachment to him.“I said, ‘You aren’t going to leave me here?’ It was a total Stockholm syndrome thing. Plus, there were cows around. It sounds weird now, but I was afraid the cows were going to trample me,” she said.If she were to send Cochran a message today, Katie said, “I would tell him I forgive him, and I hope he can forgive himself. I’m alive. I’m OK. He is not in a good place.”Her sister, Elizabeth, is married with a family and living in Elk Grove. She is also forgiving — to a point. Her college studies and career have exposed her to people who have struggled with varied forms of abuse.“You know, it is sad he was abused. But I’ve worked with people with horrible home lives, and many choose to rise above, to do better,” she said.A strong survivorAfter the kidnapping, Katie and Elizabeth both went through counseling. Both agree now it was not of much value. The Romanek family moved to Galt, and Katie attended Galt High. But she had difficulty focusing and following through. She attended Columbia College near Sonora but dropped out. She was using drugs and alcohol and had a series of relationships with men.She wound up as a server at the Jackson Rancheria, a job she held for six years.Last year, she went through a divorce. She has been working as a caregiver in San Andreas, where she currently lives.Through those difficult times, she stayed close to her dad and step-mom and sister Elizabeth. She maintained her buoyant personality and built strong friendships. Several of her friends urged her to speak out about being a survivor, and to get help.“I carried a lot of guilt. I felt it was my fault. After all, I was the one who opened the door (for Cochran to enter the house),” Katie said.Elizabeth said the ordeal shifted her life, as well. The kidnapping came just two years after the death of their mother, Beverly, from bone cancer. (Their dad later married his current wife, Elsa.)“When the kidnapping happened, Katie was still dealing with the death of our mom, and so was I,” Elizabeth said. “But Katie was younger. It was especially hard for her.”Katie went into therapy after her divorce last year and finally began to realize that she was still strong, still had many gifts. Still had a future.When the call came from Lifetime representatives earlier this year, she debated whether to participate.Eventually, she decided it was the right thing to do.“The therapy gave me the confidence to move ahead with the Lifetime program,” she said. “And doing the program has opened new doors for me.”‘Oh, my God — youare so beautiful!’Some of those doors have been opened by Hansen, the former police chief who commanded the rescue operation.In May, Katie and Hansen, who had not seen each other for 15 years, were reunited on camera in Los Angeles.“I looked at her and said, ‘Oh, my God — you are so beautiful!’” Hansen said.The two hugged and then talked for well over an hour.“We both bawling. I told him I was so grateful to him for finding me,” Katie said.Over two days and multiple interviews on camera, Katie spoke about her background, her life, and the kidnapping. Elizabeth was interviewed in detail, as was Bob Romanek.“I know Katie did it because she was ready, but also because she felt strongly that speaking out would help other people,” Bob Romanek said. “It was a brave thing for her to do.”Since the interviews, with Hansen’s encouragement, Katie has spoken out at several classes and seminars. She has become a strong supporter of the Family Justice Center in San Joaquin County, where victims can access a prosecutor, counselor, social worker and related services in one location. Plans call for the center to open next year.Suzanne Schultz, family crimes coordinator with the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, heard Katie speak at a seminar and was immediately impressed.“Katie is the face of what so many abuse victims go through: The drugs and alcohol, the difficult relationships. She is typical in that way. But she is unique in that she has come out the other side with such insight, and with such an eloquent and hopeful voice.” Schultz said.Katie has enrolled at Humphreys College in Stockton, where Hansen is on the adjunct faculty. She has plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in community studies.Hansen believes Katie is on a fresh course.“Katie survived a lot. She is amazingly resilient. She is still standing. She is still strong. And if she can survive what she went through, she can survive anything.”A radiant smileAt the coffee shop, Katie takes another sip of water and talks about what’s next. She wants to continue speaking out and helping others, and would like to make that part of her career.“For women and girls, it is so important for them to know they are not alone,” she says. “You don’t have to hold it in. Talk about it. Own it. Own it.”She’s not sure if the future includes another marriage or children. But she is confident the future will be good.“I am honest. I value my friends. I am becoming the person I want to be, not a victim, but a survivor,” she says.Earlier that morning, she received her grades from Humphreys for the most recent semester: Straight As.Her smartphone vibrates and she reaches for it.After a moment, she looks up, eyes gleaming.“It’s Elizabeth,” Katie says, smiling her radiant smile. “She wants to get together and celebrate my4-point-O!”

  • Two men arrested in Galt homicide

    GALT — Jose Luis Arriaga, 22, and Gonzalo Rodriguez, 28, both of Galt, were arrested Wednesday and booked into the Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of murdering a Galt man late Tuesday.

  • Lodi shopping center approved

    The Lodi Planning Commission unanimously approved a use permit and alcohol license for the retail center and Papapavlo’s planed for north School Street during its meeting Wednesday night.

  • Lodi Lake nature area flooded

    Lodi Lake nature area flooded

    A continuous series of storms that has slammed California with a torrent of water in recent weeks has taken a toll on Lodi. From flooding to downed trees, the area has felt the wrath of one of the wettest winters in two decades.

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Upcoming events

  • Wednesday, March 1, 2017
  • All Ages Sing-Along

    A group singing experience with projected lyrics and background soundtrack.  Revive your tired soul with a tuneful trip through vintage and new Americana, classic country, Irish pub songs and Disney favorites.  Bring the kids for a fun family night.  Woodbridge Hall, 1074 E. Academy and Lower Sac. Road.  (roadwork on Academy, but plenty of parking on Lower Sac. Road).  First Wed. of the month:  6:30 - 8:30 am.

  • Saturday, March 4, 2017
  • Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

    Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

  • Tuesday, March 7, 2017
  • Lodi Community Prayer Rally

    Scheduled prayer rallies every other week, twice per week in specific places around the Lodi community. Visit the Community Prayer Network web site @ www.communityprayer.net for information, times and locations.

  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017
  • Lodi Community Prayer Rally

    Scheduled prayer rallies every other week, twice per week in specific places around the Lodi community. Visit the Community Prayer Network web site @ www.communityprayer.net for information, times and locations.

  • Saturday, April 1, 2017
  • Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

    Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

  • Tuesday, April 4, 2017
  • Lodi Community Prayer Rally

    Scheduled prayer rallies every other week, twice per week in specific places around the Lodi community. Visit the Community Prayer Network web site @ www.communityprayer.net for information, times and locations.

  • Wednesday, April 5, 2017
  • All Ages Sing-Along

    A group singing experience with projected lyrics and background soundtrack.  Revive your tired soul with a tuneful trip through vintage and new Americana, classic country, Irish pub songs and Disney favorites.  Bring the kids for a fun family night.  Woodbridge Hall, 1074 E. Academy and Lower Sac. Road.  (roadwork on Academy, but plenty of parking on Lower Sac. Road).  First Wed. of the month:  6:30 - 8:30 am.

  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017
  • Lodi Community Prayer Rally

    Scheduled prayer rallies every other week, twice per week in specific places around the Lodi community. Visit the Community Prayer Network web site @ www.communityprayer.net for information, times and locations.

  • Tuesday, May 2, 2017
  • Lodi Community Prayer Rally

    Scheduled prayer rallies every other week, twice per week in specific places around the Lodi community. Visit the Community Prayer Network web site @ www.communityprayer.net for information, times and locations.

  • Wednesday, May 3, 2017
  • All Ages Sing-Along

    A group singing experience with projected lyrics and background soundtrack.  Revive your tired soul with a tuneful trip through vintage and new Americana, classic country, Irish pub songs and Disney favorites.  Bring the kids for a fun family night.  Woodbridge Hall, 1074 E. Academy and Lower Sac. Road.  (roadwork on Academy, but plenty of parking on Lower Sac. Road).  First Wed. of the month:  6:30 - 8:30 am.

Multimedia

play Flag Ceremony

Flag Ceremony

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play Randy's Wacky Turkey Races

Randy's Wacky Turkey Races

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Randy's Wacky Turkey Races at the Lodi Grape Festival

play Worms!

Worms!

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