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Local News

Lunch menus: Week of Aug. 27

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The following is a list of this week’s lunch menus for area schools and LOEL Center. Choice of 1-percent milk or non-fat chocolate milk is ser…

I’ll do it: Regional shooting competition in Las Vegas

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Having a major crush on Captain America does not translate to expert shooting skills. I wore the shirt but Steve Rogers did not magically ensu…

Story times: Week of Aug. 27

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Lodi

Public meetings: Week of Aug. 27

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Tuesday

Tail-waggers

Tail-waggers

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Connor is an approximately 41⁄2 month old, neutered male, Orange Tabby. PALS rescued this handsome young kitten when he was just a tiny two we…

Lodi Unified settles with feds

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At schools in the Lodi Unified School District, discipline procedures and ways to handle behavior issues have changed.

Mexican American Hall of Fame to induct four members

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Four new Hispanic community leaders will be inducted into the San Joaquin County Mexican American Hall of Fame during a special induction cere…

Dick’s Sporting Goods to open in Lodi on Sept. 9

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Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced that it will open its Lodi store at the Reynolds Ranch Shopping Center to the public on Friday, Sept. 9 at 8 a.m.

Mixed results in LUSD testing

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State test results are in and schools, both locally and statewide, are reporting steady progress in English language arts and math since last …

Record-setting spirit: Lodi man seeks to set world record to help his daughter

Record-setting spirit: Lodi man seeks to set world record to help his daughter

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On a recent morning in Lodi, drivers going down South Hutchins Street encountered something out of the ordinary — a man, clad in red, white an…

Local Sports

Cross country: Lodi starts season with Flame Invite

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The Lodi High cross country team kicked off its season on Friday, hosting the 26-team Lodi Flame Invitational at Lodi Lake Park.

Hawks win with last-minute defensive stand

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The Liberty Ranch football team opened the season with a win on Friday, a 13-9 defensive slog against River City out of West Sacramento that s…

Football: Tigers stunned in opener

Football: Tigers stunned in opener

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In the early minutes of the third quarter, the Tokay High football team trailed visiting Heritage by two touchdowns in the season opener for b…

Sports shorts: Foundation matches on tap Monday

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Five of the six Lodi area high school volleyball teams will tip-off Monday in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Foundation Games.

Moore loses no-hitter with 2 outs in 9th, Giants beat Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES — San Francisco lefty Matt Moore lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning on a soft, clean single by Corey Seager, an…

High school football, Week 0: Ready for some football

High school football, Week 0: Ready for some football

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In recent weeks, Tokay High football coach Michael Holst has seen the continued improvement among his players.

SJS Media Day: No rain for playoffs benefited section coffers

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Profits from last year’s high school football playoff games, including the championships that featured a Lodi area squad, and a new site for b…

In This Corner: Is it football Friday yet?

In This Corner: Is it football Friday yet?

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On Friday night, the 2016 high school football season officially kicks off.

Alumni Update Aug. 23

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Zach Phillips

Sports shorts: Two Crushers make all-GWL

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Two members of the Lodi Crushers earned Great West League honors.

Most Popular

  • 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!”

  • Lodi Unified settles with feds

    At schools in the Lodi Unified School District, discipline procedures and ways to handle behavior issues have changed.

  • Niners QB Kaepernick refuses to stand for anthem in protest

    Niners QB Kaepernick refuses to stand for anthem in protest

    SANTA CLARA — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is refusing to stand for the national anthem before games because he believes the United States oppresses African Americans and other minorities.

  • Record-setting spirit: Lodi man seeks to set world record to help his daughter

    Record-setting spirit: Lodi man seeks to set world record to help his daughter

    On a recent morning in Lodi, drivers going down South Hutchins Street encountered something out of the ordinary — a man, clad in red, white and blue, pedaling away on a stationary bike.

  • Football: Tigers stunned in opener

    Football: Tigers stunned in opener

    In the early minutes of the third quarter, the Tokay High football team trailed visiting Heritage by two touchdowns in the season opener for both teams at the Grape Bowl on Friday.

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Upcoming events

  • Today, August 29, 2016
  • Lodi Unified School District 9th Annual College & Career Planning Night

    The 9th Annual Lodi Unified School District College & Career Planning Night will be a wonderful opportunity for students gather information, ask questions or representatives, and get ideas about their future after high school.  Over one hundred representatives from colleges, universities, trade schools, businesses, branches of the military, and other entities will be present to help our students plan their futures.

  • Saturday, September 3, 2016
  • Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

    Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

  • Tuesday, September 6, 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, September 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.

  • Saturday, September 10, 2016
  • 50th Annual Me-Wuk Indian Acorn Festival in Tuolumne

    The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians welcome you to the very special 50h Annual Acorn Festival. Traditional Celebration of the Black Oak acorn Harvest with Traditional Dancers, Hand Games tournament Native Arts & Crafts, Deep Pit BBQ Dinner, Indian Tacos (11am to 4 pm), and Inter-tribal Pow Wow. No pets, drugs or alcohol allowed.

  • Sunday, September 11, 2016
  • 50th Annual Me-Wuk Indian Acorn Festival in Tuolumne

    The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians welcome you to the very special 50h Annual Acorn Festival. Traditional Celebration of the Black Oak acorn Harvest with Traditional Dancers, Hand Games tournament Native Arts & Crafts, Deep Pit BBQ Dinner, Indian Tacos (11am to 4 pm), and Inter-tribal Pow Wow. No pets, drugs or alcohol allowed.

  • Great American Hero 5K/10K Obstacle Challenge

    Do you have ATTITUDE? BRING IT! The Eagal Lakes Resort Great American Hero 5k/10k Obstacle Challenge has over 40 obstacles to challenge your endurance and fitness level, and is the first obstacle run with modified obstacles for ALL fitness levels from beginner to advanced. The 10k “Elite Waves” are for those in top competitive fitness and are limited to first 200 participants. Cash prizes, and all bragging rights, will be awarded to the top male/female in the “Elite” category.

  • Tuesday, September 20, 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.

  • Saturday, October 1, 2016
  • “Handmade Parade” in Jamestown California

    Do you like masks? storytelling? electronics? puppetry? costuming? engineering? Walk, stroll, bike, drum, sing and dance down the street with fellow revellers. Think: Mardi Gras celebration in the Motherlode! Join us to celebrate California Arts Day--march in a "Handmade Parade."

  • Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

    Golden State German Shepherd Rescue Adoption Day

Multimedia

play Worms!

Worms!

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play New addition to Micke Grove Zoo

New addition to Micke Grove Zoo

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A young male Brazilian tree porcupine from Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada, is the newest addition to Micke Grove Zoo.

play Prayer vigil

Prayer vigil

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Lodi community members held a prayer walk for shooting victims Tuesday.

play Jackie's Homecoming

Jackie's Homecoming

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Jackie is welcomed home by family and friends in Lodi, Sat. Jan. 23, 2016. Pickett suffered traumatic brain injuries in an assault at Beckman Park in Lodi in early January. She spent a week and a half in the intensive care unit before being transported to a rehabilitation center, where she made great progress in her recovery.