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Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 10:00 pm

Students from Lodi, Tokay and Bear Creek High Schools won awards at the 40th annual SkillsUSA state competition held on April 19-22.

Lodi junior Nick Iturraran took gold in the technical drafting competition. He along with Tokay's Christain Rebustillo, who won the gold medal in the architecture drafting, will go to the national conference in June.

Other winners include Garett Neuvert and Michael De Grandmont from Lodi High; and Reyes Hernandez, Josh Longoria and Rachael Glick from Tokay High.

Lodi Sikhs to pray for Virginia Tech victims

Lodi Sikh Temple members will pray non-stop for about 48 hours for the 32 people who were shot to death on April 23 at Virginia Tech University.

The prayer will begin at 11 a.m. on May 11 and continue until 10 a.m. May 13 at the new Sikh temple at the northeast corner of Amstrong Road and West Lane.

The community, regardless of faith, is welcome to join the Sikhs in prayer, said Nirmal Samra, the temple's vice president.

The new Lodi temple is nearing completion. Lodi residents have traditionally worshipped at the Sikh temple in south Stockton.

North San Joaquin meeting moved to Grape Festival

Because Hutchins Street Square is already booked, Monday's continued protest hearing on a proposed groundwater charge by the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District will be held at 5 p.m. Monday in Burgundy Hall at the Lodi Grape Festival grounds on East Lockeford Street.

The water district's board of directors will continue to accept protest votes until the meeting night. Protests may be mailed to District Manager, P.O. Box 428, Clements, CA 95227, or delivered in person at Monday's meeting.

The proposed groundwater charge, intended to purchase equipment to pump additional water out of the Mokelumne River and pump much of it into the area's parched groundwater basin, varies depending on type of use.

Mini-Grant applications now available from city

The City of Lodi's Division of Arts and Culture is now accepting applications for the 2007-08 Mini-Grants program. The program offers financial support of up to $2,000 for promising arts and cultural projects that serve the interests of Lodi residents.

Mini-grant applications are being accepted through June 1. Financial support is contingent on project merit as well as availability of funds. Minimal funds are currently available, so organizations are urged to submit their applications soon.

Applications can be obtained by calling 333-5511.

'Pirates Tale 2: Blood Treasure' auditions

Changing Faces Theater Company will be holding auditions for "Pirate's Tale 2: Blood Treasure" on May 5 at 10 a.m. at Bear Creek Community Church, 11171 Lower Sacramento Road. The play is part of a summer theater program that will end with summer performances at Jessie's Grove Winery. Ages 8 to 25 are welcome. For information, call 747-8043.

A mother's best gift

Are you a mother who has received the perfect Mother's Day gift? Is there something you are hoping for? Do you claim to be the best gift giver? Mother's Day is just around the corner, and we are looking for people who like to give and receive unique Mother's Day gifts. It may be something as great as a cruise or something as simple as a box of homemade treats or just allowing mom to have the house to herself for a day. Whatever it is, we want to hear. To be part of an upcoming story, contact Lauren Nelson at 369-7035 or e-mail laurenn@lodinews.com.

Mokelumne River water proposal revised

North San Joaquin Water Conservation District board members revised a proposed agreement in which the East Bay Municipal Utility District would allocate 20,000 acre-feet of surplus Mokelumne River water during wet years.

Changes were made to a draft agreement during a special meeting of the North San Joaquin board Tuesday morning. The recommended changes will be forwarded to the Eastern Water Alliance, a coalition of the North San Joaquin, Central San Joaquin and Stockton East water districts, for its consideration.

If the Eastern Water Alliances adopts the changes, negotiations will resume with EBMUD, which has rights to transport a majority of the Mokelumne River water to urban areas of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The Eastern Water Alliance will review North San Joaquin's proposed changes at 10 a.m. Friday at the Stockton East office, 6767 E. Main St., Stockton.

County registrar, Hench, retiring after 30 years

Deborah Hench, San Joaquin County's elections chief, announced she will retire from her post in July.

Hench, 56, said because of her retirement benefits it just made sense to avoid the stress of the coming 2008 elections.

"Next year I'd be paying to work," she said Tuesday. "I didn't give up on elections. It's just sometimes, you have to decide when it's time to retire."

Hench said she has a salary of about $107,000 and had 14 employees in her department.

She has recommended the assistant registrar, Austin Erdman, to take her place although it is up to the county Board of Supervisors to make the final decision.

During her tenure as registrar, Hench helped usher in touch screen voting, a switch that has not been without its fair share of problems.

Hench joined the county in March 1974 and eventually moved into the position as auditor in 1980.

She became a senior elections technician in 1989. She graduated from Lodi High School and holds an associate arts degree from San Joaquin Delta College.

She said she may seek employment in the private sector as an elections consultant.

"I hope people register to vote and go vote in future elections," she said.

Deputy shoots dog; fragments hit girl, mom

A San Joaquin County Sheriff's deputy shot and wounded a dog Tuesday, and bullet fragments apparently struck a small girl and her mother, authorities said.

Deputies and code enforcement officers were called at 11 a.m. to the 2700 block of Munford Avenue, near Highway 99 south of Mariposa Road, to follow up on an investigation of unsafe living conditions, said sheriff's spokesman Les Garcia.

One deputy went to the rear of the home when he thought he saw someone running out the back door, while a second deputy remained at the front door.

A black and tan mix Rottweiler allegedly charged toward the second deputy, who fired once at the dog, Garcia said.

The bullet struck the dog's paw, and fragments apparently struck the young girl in the thigh and abdomen, and the mother in the thigh. Both were taken to an area hospital for treatment of wounds that were not considered life-threatening, Garcia said.

Animal control officers took the dog to a veterinarian for treatment.

Because the incident involved a deputy firing a gun, a countywide protocol team headed by the District Attorney's Office was called in. The case remained under investigation Tuesday evening.

McNerney to be in Stockton on Friday

U.S. Congressman Jerry McNerney will be in Stockton on Friday to talk with his constituents.

This visit is part of McNerney's "Congress at your corner" program, in which he makes regular visits to cities in his district.

McNerney represents Lodi and northern San Joaquin County.

"Instead of asking community members to come to one of my offices, I am going to go to them and make it easy as possible for them to see their member of Congress," McNerney said in a statement released Tuesday.

McNerney will be at S-Mart Foods, located at 4725 Quail Lakes Drive from 5 to 6 p.m. on Friday.

Ex-student accused of threatening Linden High

A former Linden High School student was arrested Monday on allegations of threatening to shoot up the school, San Joaquin County Sheriff's officials said Tuesday.

The 17-year-old boy had been expelled from the school for fighting and making threats, but then threatened a 14-year-old student, according to a sheriff's report. The suspect said he would shoot the 14-year-old and also get gang friends to "shoot up the school," the report said.

The 17-year-old, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was booked into the Juvenile Justice Center on suspicion of making criminal threats.

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Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

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