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Tail-waggers

Tail-waggers

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Bear is an approximately 21⁄2-year-old, neutered male Rottweiler, and weighs approximately 102 pounds. Our big Bear has come a long way since …

Lockeford Tree of Lights ceremony on Saturday

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LOCKEFORD — Stop by the Wells Fargo Bank in Lockeford on Saturday at 6 p.m. for a beautiful tree lighting ceremony by the Hospice of San Joaqu…

Lodi schools prepare for bond projects

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Lodi Unified School District is continuing to plan for the new Measure U school bond, which voters approved in November. Much work needs to be…

Lodi’s Measure S does not pass

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SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY — The San Joaquin County of Voters has finalized the vote count and Measure S fell just short of the needed two-thirds majority.

Lodi pastor receives community service award for efforts to foster unity

Lodi pastor receives community service award for efforts to foster unity

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In an effort to create a sense of unity amongst the various races, religions, ethnicities, nationalities and cultures in his community, Pastor…

Lodi Rotary Satellite donates bikes to Adopt-a-Child ahead of Christmas

Lodi Rotary Satellite donates bikes to Adopt-a-Child ahead of Christmas

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Truckloads of bikes arrived at Lodi Adopt-A-Child on Friday afternoon as gifts for local children and families in need. Lodi Satellite Rotary …

Parade of Lights kicks  off Christmas season

Parade of Lights kicks off Christmas season

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The Kiwanis Club of the Greater Lodi area kicked off the Christmas season with the 21st annual Parade of Lights in Downtown Lodi on Thursday evening.

Hospice tree lighting ceremony remembers loved ones

Hospice tree lighting ceremony remembers loved ones

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Dozens gathered in front of Lodi’s City Hall to honor and remember loved ones and ensure those in their final days get the adequate care durin…

Lodi police arrest drug lab suspect

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Lodi police arrested two men on Tuesday and Wednesday for two unrelated incidents involving a butane honey oil lab and a domestic disturbance.

Scotto Cellars to raise money for Matthew Gress

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LODI — Scotto Cellars is having a fundraiser for Matthew Gress, a 9-year-old Lockeford boy battling a rare form of cancer, and his family.

Local Sports

Lady Warriors Shootout: Tokay knocks out Galt in overtime

Lady Warriors Shootout: Tokay knocks out Galt in overtime

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GALT — Six seconds was all the time Anessa Spradley needed to recover.

Sports shorts: Hawks bounce back, beat Chavez at home

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The Liberty Ranch High boys basketball team rebounded from its season-opening loss with a 65-51 win over Chavez on Friday.

Football: Locals playing in section D-I finals

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Six Lodi area high school players are part of the St. Mary’s High football team that is playing Folsom in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I c…

Wrestling: Flames take down Calaveras in opener

Wrestling: Flames take down Calaveras in opener

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Middle and upper weight classes pinned down a season-opening win for the Lodi High wrestling team Wednesday at The Inferno.

Boys soccer: Change of season brings new life for area squads

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Tokay High boys soccer coach Ruben Gomez feels as the new season progresses, so will his Tigers.

Sports shorts: Lodi basketball steals a win against Bradshaw Christian at Bill Cartwright Classic

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Defense led to the Lodi High boys basketball team beating Bradshaw Christian 83-70 in the Bill Cartwright Classic at Elk Grove High on Thursday.

Alumni Update Nov. 30

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Lisa Ferrero

Sports shorts: Hawks girls open with big victory

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The Liberty Ranch varsity girls basketball team opened the season with a big win, blowing out Linden 59-9.

Boys soccer: Early goals doom Tigers in opener

Boys soccer: Early goals doom Tigers in opener

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A close contest changed course in seven minutes in a non-league high school boys soccer game between host Tokay and Galt at the Grape Bowl on …

Lodi’s Ferrero aiming to get LPGA card back

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Lisa Ferrero is at a crossroads.

Most Popular

  • Lodi pastor receives community service award for efforts to foster unity

    Lodi pastor receives community service award for efforts to foster unity

    In an effort to create a sense of unity amongst the various races, religions, ethnicities, nationalities and cultures in his community, Pastor Steve Newman helped establish the Lodi’s first Peace Walk, held this past June.

  • He might have a prosthetic leg, but Lodi’s Josh Lilienstein is the real deal

    He might have a prosthetic leg, but Lodi’s Josh Lilienstein is the real deal

    Josh Lilienstein appears to be your average 17-year-old. The Lodi High junior balances his school work with a job and athletics as well as just being a teenager. Lilienstein had an active childhood, playing baseball, basketball and soccer. In the summers, he hit the waters on the family boat and wakeboarded. In the winters, he skied. Now he plays tennis for the Flames, runs and works out consistently, still loves to glide across the water and hit the slopes and relishes his year-old driving privileges.

  • Lady Warriors Shootout: Tokay knocks out Galt in overtime

    Lady Warriors Shootout: Tokay knocks out Galt in overtime

    GALT — Six seconds was all the time Anessa Spradley needed to recover.

  • Parade of Lights kicks  off Christmas season

    Parade of Lights kicks off Christmas season

    The Kiwanis Club of the Greater Lodi area kicked off the Christmas season with the 21st annual Parade of Lights in Downtown Lodi on Thursday evening.

  • 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!”

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Upcoming events

  • Wednesday, December 7, 2016
  • 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, December 13, 2016
  • 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, December 27, 2016
  • 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, January 4, 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, January 7, 2017
  • Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

    Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

  • Tuesday, January 10, 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, January 24, 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, February 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, February 4, 2017
  • Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

    Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

  • Tuesday, February 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.

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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