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Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2005 10:00 pm

Woman sentenced to time served for child abuse

A Lodi woman accused of locking her son in a bathroom for days on end has been sentenced to time already served in jail.

Cindy Lawce, 44, was also placed on five years of formal probation at Monday's sentencing, according to Deputy District Attorney Janet Smith.

Lawce was arrested Oct. 6 after her son told his New Hope School teacher that she had locked him in the bathroom when he went to visit her, according to Smith and Sheriff's deputies.

The boy later testified in court that his mother only fed him tater-tots through the window.

The case slowed down when Lawce's mental health was questioned, though she was ultimately found competent to stand trial.

Then, on June 20, she pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of elder abuse when a judge promised to sentence her to no more than a year in jail. Lawce was then released from custody.

The plea and sentence came despite Smith's protests. She pointed to a pre-sentence probation report, which alleged that Lawce had tested positive for methamphetamine and had violated a stay-away order.

Drug charges dismissed against Lodi woman

More than a year after a woman was arrested when Lodi Police found an apparent drug lab in her boyfriend's apartment, prosecutors dismissed the case against her.

Citing insufficient evidence against Amee Deann Johnston, 27, San Joaquin County prosecutors dismissed all drug charges Monday, according to court records.

Johnston's boyfriend, Jeffrey Charles Berger, 31, pleaded guilty May 1 to one count of manufacturing a controlled substance. He has yet to be sentenced, but is scheduled to return to court today.

The two were arrested July 12, 2004, when police were called to a disturbance at an apartment complex near Turner Road and Rutledge Drive. While arresting Berger on a warrant, officers noticed a chemical smell and got a search warrant, detectives said at the time.

Inside the apartment, detectives allegedly found marijuana plants growing in the closet and ingredients commonly used for making methamphetamine.

Grant project list approved by Parks and Rec

The Lodi Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved a list of grant projects to be paid for with Propositions 12 and 40 funding Tuesday. The list will be reviewed by the City Council and then sent to the State Department for its approval. The state will make the final decision as to what projects on the list will receive funding.

If the state rejects any of the listed projects, the city commission can then go back and decide what projects members want to use to replace the rejected ones.

The projects on the list are: restroom replacements at Beckman Park, Henry Glaves Park and the softball complex; roof replacement of structures at Legion and Kofu Park; equipment replacement at Peterson Park West Playground; and replacement of the lighting system at Salas Park.

Funding for the projects total $1.115 million.

Lodi Unified gets down to business of new school year

Students and staff at McNair High School will be expected to work through their two-week fall break in October to make up for the school's delayed opening, after a Tuesday night school board decision.

Lodi Unified school board members unanimously approved the revised McNair's instructional calendar so that the school will continue to operate from Oct. 3-14.

The district's three other high schools will be out of session at that time, according to the modified-traditional school calendar.

In other matters Tuesday, board members:

• Heard a report on what effects the state budget will have on district finances. Trustees will hear recommendations on possible reinstatements later this month and are expected to approve a final budget in September.

• Welcomed the district's three newest student representatives to the board. Lyndsy Merrill, Rachelle Valenzuela and Brooke Shields will represent Lodi, Bear Creek and Tokay high schools, respectively.

• Announced the appointment of Gary Yokum to the position of facilities and planning manager and McNair biology teacher Valerie Rose to the position of assistant principal.

Galt police gets 5 percent raise

Galt police officers will receive a retroactive 5 percent raise under a contract approved at a special Galt City Council meeting Monday.

The salary adjustment is effective Jan. 1. A second 5 percent raise will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

The council approved the contract for sworn officers by a 3-1 vote. Councilman Tim Raboy voted against the contract, and Vice Mayor Randy Shelton was absent.

Raboy could not be reached for comment.

In separate action, council members:

• Approved changing the police officer probationary period to 18 months instead of the standard 12 months.

• Approved a change order not to exceed $25,310 for the Kost Road repairs project.

• Awarded a consulting contract not to exceed $47,450 to Frisch Engineering to deisgn a supervisory control and data acquisition system for public works projects.

• Adopted a resolution approving the change of the current assistant city manager/planning director job description by separating duties into the positions of assistant city manager and community development director. In the same action, the council approved an assistant city manager salary range.

• Accepted completion of the Lincoln Way road improvements.

• Approved closing Fifth Street between B and C streets for the Galt Fire Protection District open house/public safety day on Sept. 24.

• Postponed appointing anyone as an alternate at the League of California Cities conference in October. The council wanted to wait until Shelton returns.

Galt gets $2.4 million for interchange

President Bush is expected to sign a transportation bill next week that will give Galt $2.4 million toward installing a new Central Galt interchange on Highway 99.

The Galt allocation is part of a $286.5 billion bill Congress approved last week. The allocations aren't etched in stone since Bush has the authority to issue line-item vetoes.

Lungren initially put $3 million into the bill for the Central Galt interchange, but Congress agreed to reduce allocations by 20 percent across the board, as requested by Bush, Galt Mayor Darryl Clare said.

"As a conferee on the highway bill, I worked to ensure that residents of the capital region will receive a fair return of their gas taxes paid at the pump," Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River said in a prepared statement. His district includes Galt.

"After years of being shortchanged, Californians are finally receiving a larger portion of their federal highway dollars."

In Sacramento County, the bill also calls for $560,000 for a study and street sign safety program for a Rio Vista bridge realignment and $3.2 million worth of improvements for Highway 99 at Sheldon Road, north of Elk Grove.

Sheriff's Department seeking retired volunteers

The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department is looking for a few good retirees.

Any county resident who is over the age of 50 is invited to join the Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors, better known as S.T.A.R.S.

Training classes for new recruits will be held Sept. 12-23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sheriff's Department in French Camp.

The volunteers do everything from patrol to helping in the office, and with service and school programs.

Anyone interested in volunteering may contact coordinator Weldon Burson at 468-4469, or the recruiting office at 468-4622. The Sheriff's Department is located at 7000 Michael Canlis Blvd.

Park fees to increase

Parks and recreation fees at several San Joaquin County parks will increase as of Sept. 1. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved the hikes as part of the fiscal 2005-06 budget. Among those:

• Weekday parking fees will rise from $2 to $3 at Micke Grove, Oak Grove, Dos Reis, Westgate Landing, Stillman Magee and Mossdale Crossing. Weekend and holiday parking fees will remain at $5.

• Fees for added rental hours will be increased to $50 extra per hour at Micke Grove's Memorial Auditorium and $30 extra per hour at Harmony Grove Church.

• Seasonal fees for recreational fields used by youth leagues will be increased to $400 (with concessions) and $250 (without concessions).

Grenade, pound of meth found in house

A 31-year-old Tracy man was arrested Tuesday night after officers found drugs and a live hand grenade inside his house on Ninth Street.

Eric Dennis faces charges of possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation, and possession of an explosive device and a dangerous weapon. During a probation search at 214 East Ninth Street around 9:30 p.m., narcotics officers recovered a quarter-pound of crystal methamphetamine and a live military-style hand grenade.

When officers arrived and searched Dennis outside his house, they found about an ounce of crystal meth on him and inside his car, Sgt. Mark Duxbury said. More of the drug was found during a search of the house.

Duxbury said Dennis was believed to be a midlevel dealer of methamphetamine in San Joaquin County.

When officers found the hand grenade, the county bomb squad was called in to blow it up safely.

The grenade was placed in a protective container and its blasting cap was exploded at the police department's firing range off of Tracy Boulevard.

Also arrested were three unidentified women for obstruction of justice and a second man for possession of hypodermic needles. All four were cited and released. Dennis was booked into San Joaquin County Jail, where he awaits arraignment in Tracy court later this week.

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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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