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Posted: Monday, October 20, 2003 10:00 pm

Halloween costume contest for dogs planned for Saturday

Pet owners are urged to dress up their dogs and take them to the Vinewood Dog Park on Saturday for the second-annual Halloween pet costume contest.

The $15-per-dog entry fee will go toward cash prizes and gift certificates. Participants will also receive a T-shirt with entry. The fees can be mailed to organizer Jerry Perrin, 3575 W. Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242.

Entry forms are available at Robinson's Feed Store and at the east gate of the dog park. The deadline is Thursday.

The contest begins at 1 p.m. and will be held rain or shine. Categories include most original, funniest, scariest and cutest.

The dog park is located on Virginia Avenue, off West Tokay Street.

For more information, call 368-4459.

Galt elementary district to discuss boundaries for new school

The Galt Elementary district will discuss redrawing boundaries for the future Lake Canyon Elementary School Wednesday night.

"We need to look at boundaries and distribute student enrollment as evenly as we can," said Jim Bauler, assistant superintendent of the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District on Monday.

The Board of Trustees will not take any action on boundaries Wednesday.

Construction of Lake Canyon (which will be located on the West side of Carillion Boulevard) is expected to begin in June 2004.

"We will essentially take students from Marengo Ranch Elementary (located on the east side Carillion) and River Oaks Elementary (south of Walnut Street)," Bauler said. All of the schools are located on the east side of Highway 99.

"The boundaries ultimately will be defined by certain streets," Bauler said. "The most natural boundary is Walnut and Carillion. However, there may be students that we want to enroll … outside of that natural boundary. We will looking at other areas, simply to yield more students at Lake Canyon."

Transportation will be provided but students within a three-quarters of a mile of the school will be required to walk as that is the district's policy, Bauler said.

Board trustees are also expected to pass a resolution allowing the district to find a bidder for the expansion of the district office.

"We've been in our district office for six years … and there is an area inside the office now that is considered to be future office space," Bauler said.

The contract would be for putting up walls, adding carpeting, constructing a drop ceiling and other construction to make the area a workable office space, he said.

Also, board trustees will discuss taking over a special education program at Fairsite Elementary School from the Sacramento County Office of Education. The program is one for emotionally disturbed children and the take-over would allow more local control of the program, Bauler said.

Public safety employees take part in Special Olympics event

Four teams of five from Lodi participated in the second-annual fire-engine pull challenge held Saturday at Weber Point in Stockton.

Participants included Lodi Police dispatchers and officers, said Laurie Gagnon, development manager of the Special Olympics Northern California Northeast Region.

Members of the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office took first place in the event, she said.

Funds raised through the event will help fund the training and competition of hundreds of Special Olympics athletes in San Joaquin County.

Called the law enforcement torch run, it is one of the largest grass-roots fund-raising program and public awareness vehicle for the Special Olympics, Gagnon said.

Delta wetlands project slows amid contamination concerns

A project to restore wetlands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is slowing down amid reports new wetlands could worsen mercury contamination in the Delta and the San Francisco Bay.

A group of state and local agencies working together under the name Cal-Fed have been buying farmland along the Delta as part of a restoration plan to covert 140 square miles back into wetlands and wildlife habitat. The group has spent $50 million on the land purchases since 1996.

More than a dozen scientists interviewed by The Sacramento Bee say Cal-Fed acted too quickly with some of the purchases, overlooking studies showing that wetlands and marshes can intensify mercury problems.

Mercury is a strong neurotoxin that can cause brain damage.

Microbial processes in wetlands can turn mercury into a more dangerous form - methylmercury - that is more easily absorbed by fish and passed onto humans who eat fish.

"Unfortunately, Cal-Fed purchased land for wetlands in the exact spots where we already have methylation 'hot spots,"' said Darell Slotton, a mercury expert at University of California, Davis. "Ideally, they would have found out these things and then started buying the land."

But Slotton said he can see the constraints Cal-Fed is under to buy land when it becomes available, before opportunities disappear.

To address the issue, Cal-Fed is slowing down its plans and putting $4 million into studying mercury.

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