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Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2006 10:00 pm

Mounce wants Lodi to use 'In God We Trust'

A Lodi city councilwoman wants to follow the lead of a Bakersfield official who's campaigning to display the motto "In God We Trust" on city buildings.

"If you look back at some of the documents our founding fathers brought to us, you can see how 'In God We Trust' is an important aspect of government," Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said.

She would like to see the words on City Hall, added to the city seal or placed in City Council meeting hall, she said.

Bakersfield City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan recently e-mailed every city clerk in the state about getting the words put on city buildings. So far, 14 cities have followed her lead.

"I have some hesitation about that. I think it opens a Pandora's Box and is better left alone," Lodi City Councilman Larry Hansen said.

Atheists have claimed that displays of "In God We Trust" on money and government property is a violation of separation of church and state.

The Lodi City Council will discuss the issue at its Feb. 15 meeting.

Home and Garden Show kicks off Friday

The Lodi Home and Garden Show kicks off Friday from 1 to 8 p.m. at the Grape Festival Grounds.

Said to be the largest show yet, the three-day event, which continues Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., features cooking demonstrations, garden displays, a plant sale and more.

Additionally, visitors will be eligible for door prizes, and can play booth bingo for a chance to win more prizes.

The Grape Festival Grounds is at 413 E. Lockeford St. For more information, call 941-1880.

Skate park to reopen

The Lodi Skate Park at Kofu Park, which has been closed the past two weeks due to vandalism and the subsequent repair, will reopen on Friday.

Park hours are from 2:30 p.m. to dusk on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to dusk on weekends.

The Parks and Recreation Department implemented a sign regarding the rules of the park - a helmet and protective gear must be worn at all times and the skater must have an identification badge, showing that they've signed a liability waiver - but those rules have not been followed regularly since the park opened a little over a year ago.

The vandalism that took place involved the removal of that sign from the ground.

Tokay High could lose last female PE teacher

School locker rooms can be intimidating.

But girls at Tokay High may have to just sweat it out alone next year if school administration follows through with a plan to move the last female PE teacher to another school.

The matter came up Tuesday night before a meeting of the Lodi Unified School Board.

Susan Shamber, a physical education teacher who also leads the school's dance team, got notice Monday that she would be one of as many as 14 teachers expected to leave next year to accommodate a shrinking student population.

Several positions will be open at McNair High School in north Stockton, which will add a junior class to its student body next year. Many of those jobs will be filled by qualified teachers from other schools like Tokay.

The problem, Shamber told trustees, is that there will be no support or supervision in the locker rooms, possibly no adult who is trained in CPR and first aid, no one to break up fights, no shoulder to cry on.

"When you go into PE, don't be surprised if you do more counseling than coaching," she said citing a professional adage.

Displacing teachers when new schools open and expand is a standard procedure used by the district, though the process happens more at the elementary level than at high schools.

All Lodi Unified teachers are not being laid off and will be guaranteed a job somewhere in the district, officials say.

Lodi, Galt mayors in fund-raising competition

Lodi Mayor Susan Hitchcock and Galt Mayor Darryl Clare will challenge each other to raise money to support Hurricane Katrina victims in Slidell, La.

Hitchock and Clare will appear at a press conference at noon Friday at the Lodi Wine and Visitors Center, 2645 W. Turner Road.

The two mayors will challenge each other to raise $10,000 between them to finance the transportation of 95 rooms of four-star hotel furniture donated for the cause.

Because Lodi has a population of 62,000, it will be expected to raise more money than Galt, which as about 23,000 residents. Therefore, Lodi will be challenged to raise $6,800, while Galt needs to only raise $3,200.

If either community fails to raise its share, the losing mayor must wear the other city's name emblazoned on a shirt and hat at their next City Council meeting.

If both cities reach their goal, Hitchock will present Clare with a case of Lodi Red wine from Michael David Winery. Clare, in turn will give Hitchcock a case of cookies from Spaans Cooke Co. in Galt.

Two Lodi churches, Calvary Bible and First United Methodist, have already donated $1,000 each. Teresi Trucking Co. has agreed to truck the hotel furniture from a warehouse in Fremont to a railroad line that will transport the furniture to Louisiana.

For more information, call Tom Hoffman, chairman of the Lodi Disaster Recovery Coalition, at 986-2763.

Three arrested on suspicion of carjacking

A man and two teens were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stealing a vehicle at gunpoint from a man returning home in the 13400 block of East Church Street, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department.

Gregorio Lara-Crispin, 18, and two teens, 15 and 16 years old, ordered the driver and a passenger to get out of the car at 8:19 p.m., according to the sheriff's report.

One of the suspects, holding a gun at his side, reportedly told the driver, "Get out of the vehicle and give me the keys."

The suspects took the car and drove away, according to the sheriff's report. With the assistance of the Lodi Police Department, the three males were arrested, and the vehicle was recovered, according to the report. Information was not available on when or where the arrests took place.

Lara-Crispin was booked into county jail in French Camp on suspicion of carjacking, vehicle theft, retrieving stolen property and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The teens, whose identity was not disclosed because they are minors, were taken to juvenile hall on suspicion of vehicle theft, carjacking and possession of stolen property.

Boys and Girls Club gain use of city building

The Galt Boys and Girls Club will use Chabolla Community Center for teen after-school activities beginning in March. The Galt City Council authorized the club to use the center at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

In other action, the City Council authorized the use of the Galt Market grounds on May 27 for Boom Boom, Inc., to conduct a fireworks demonstration. Also planned that day are a parade on C Street and a music festival by the Galt High Music Department at Veterans Soccer Field.

A report to the council on McFarland Ranch was postponed until March.

Officials recommend early WNV vaccinations

The San Joaquin County West Nile Virus Task Force is reminding horse owners to vaccinate their animals for the disease. The vaccine ha been found to be effective in helping to prevent horses from contracting the disease.

In 2005, 456 horses contracted the virus with 200 dying or being euthanized, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In San Joaquin County, 19 horses were reported to have the virus and nine died.

Horses become infected the same way as humans, by the bite of an infected mosquito. Signs of the virus in horses include stumbling, staggering, wobbly gait or incoordination, circling, hind limb weakness, inability to stand and paralysis.

For further information, contact your local veterinarian, or CDFA at (800) 268-7378. For general questions about combating the virus, call (800) 300-4675.

Union Pacific: Road closures will continue

Due to railroad crossing rail improvements at several Union Pacific Railroad crossings in San Joaquin County, The following closures will take place north of Lodi:

• On Friday, Acampo Road between Lower Sacramento Road and Des Moines Road, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• On Saturday, Peltier Road between Lower Sacramento Road and Des Moines Road, also from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• And, on Sunday, Jahant Road Lower Sacramento Road and the Highway 99 frontage, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, contact San Joaquin County Public Works, Road Maintenance Division, at 468-3074.

County receives federal disaster money

San Joaquin County was declared a major disaster area by President Bush on Friday, allowing the county to collect federal money typically unavailable in basic emergency declarations.

State and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations stretched thin by the severe floods, storms, mudslides and landslides that menaced the northern part of California from Dec. 17 through Jan. 3 can now get long-term assistance to rebuild.

"This is different from a typical emergency declaration, which is more limited in scope and without the long-term federal recovery programs of a major disaster declaration," said Michael Cocokrell of the county emergency services office.

An assessment revealed that the county sustained about $14 million in damages, according to Cocokrell. But it sustained only $25,000 in damage to individual businesses and to residential property - not enough to put into motion funding for individual assistance funds. There simply wasn't enough damage, Cocokrell said.

However, the city of Tracy will apply to recoup nearly $11,400 in overtime pay and public works expenses.

"We had some tree limbs fall and crews worked all day on New Year's Day, but it was relatively moderate," said Zane Johnston, Tracy finance director.

Now that the president made his declaration, county and local agencies can submit applications for funds, the bulk of which will go to pay for costs incurred by emergency services like ambulances, fire and police.

School pulls gay-friendly prom advertisement

TRACY - Administrators at a northern San Joaquin Valley high school said they pulled an ad for a gay-friendly prom from the school's daily announcements because it's being promoted by an outside group.

The April event was organized by West High School's Gay-Straight Alliance, but the statewide gay-advocacy group, Equality California, is helping sell tickets on its Web site.

The school's bulletin is reserved for school-related announcements, Principal Herman Calad said.

"It's not an outside thing. … It's a West High School club putting on a West High School event," said senior Justin Daley, president of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance and director of the Equality California's San Joaquin County chapter.

Organizers have sold about 125 tickets to students throughout the region, he said.

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