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Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2005 10:00 pm

Judge to consider dismissing mosque suit

San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Carter P. Holly is reviewing a request to dismiss a lawsuit the Lodi Muslim Mosque filed earlier this year against the Farooqia Islamic Center.

Modesto attorney Gary Nelson, representing the Farooqia center and five men involved in the proposed school and worship center, said that Holly heard arguments from both sides of the case Thursday morning. A decision may take several days, Nelson said.

The mosque filed its lawsuit in March, alleging that Farooqia leaders used mosque money and individual donations toward the Farooqia project.

Also named in the lawsuit are Mohammad Adil Khan, who is currently in jail on immigration charges, former Lodi mosque Presidents Aman Khan and Nasim Khan, plus Ramzan Ali and Mohammad Hussain.

Burn victim still in coma

A Lodi man who suffered burns on 65 percent of his body three weeks ago remains in a medically induced coma.

Francisco Javier Rodriguez, 28, was found burning June 10 in the 500 block of West Century Boulevard.

Rodriguez, who is deaf and mute, was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where he remains, according to Lodi Police.

Witnesses, who helped put out the fire, reported seeing a black sport utility vehicle leaving the scene. Several days later, Rodriguez's black Jeep Cherokee was found abandoned in Stockton.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Lodi Police Detective Leo Ramirez at 333-6872. Anonymous calls may be made to Lodi-Area Crime Stoppers at 333-6771.

Fireworks prohibited this Fourth of July weekend

Lodi is not the place to light off your own fireworks this Fourth of July.

Anyone wanting to put on their own personal show must drive 10 miles outside of Lodi to legally buy and use fireworks.

In San Joaquin County, fireworks are only legal in Ripon, Escalon, the incorporated area of Vernalis and, for the first year, in Manteca. However, fireworks can be purchased in Sacramento County, including Galt.

Lodi police Lt. Chet Somera said that "poppers" are the only kinds of fireworks that are legal in Lodi. These are small fireworks that have a string at the bottom of them and when pulled, it makes a "pop" noise and streamers are ejected.

According to the California State Fire Marshall's office, the only legal fireworks are the so-called safe and sane type that are only sold during the week before July 4. These include fireworks such as spinners, sparklers, cone fountains, base fountains and novelty or smoke items.

They can only be used on an owner's private property and the street in front of that property. Lighting any fireworks is illegal on another person's property, public grounds such as parks and schools.

There are no daily time limits for the use of fireworks, but they can only be used during the week before July 4, and can not be used after 12 a.m. on the Fourth.

Family Faith Festival moves to Hutchins

It may be more than a month away, but the fourth-annual Family Faith Festival is being moved from downtown Lodi to Hutchins Street Square.

The Christian-oriented festival will be held from 3 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 7 on the east lawn of Hutchins Street Square, north of Lodi Avenue. Last year's event drew an estimated 15,000 people.

Musical entertainment, games and food will dominate the landscape, but event coordinator Cheryl McLaughlin said visitors will be more comfortable because it will be on the lawn instead of the hot asphalt of School Street and adjoining streets.

Avalon, which McLaughlin describes as "the biggest band we've every had," will perform at 8 p.m. They will come to the festival after playing Arco Arena the previous two nights, McLaughlin said.

For more information, call 334-3111.

CHP: DUI drivers beware

Local California Highway Patrol officers will be out in full force this Fourth of July weekend, putting extra patrol on area roadways.

"Every available officer will be on the road, and they're going to be especially watching for drunk drivers," said Capt. Steve Lerwill, commander of the CHP's Stockton Area Office in a press release.

"We want people to know we have a zero tolerance for drinking and driving anytime, not just during a holiday."

In all of 2004, CHP officers arrested more than 88,000 DUI drivers, according to CHP.

Also this weekend, the CHP will be joining forces with statewide traffic safety agencies from Nevada, Arizona and Oregon in C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, an enforcement focusing on speed, DUI and safety belt use.

Caltrans looking to reduce injuries, deaths

The California Department of Transportation has announced a two-year campaign to develop a traffic safety and educational program with hopes of reducing the number of people injured or killed on state highways on or near Native American reservations or rancherias, according to a press release issued earlier this week.

The Santa Rosa-based consultant will work directly with communities on how to improve roadway safety where they live. The efforts will include safety workshops, educational flyers and brochures, and informational signs.

There are 109 federally recognized tribes in California, many of which are located in rural areas and are highly reliant on the state highway system, according to Caltrans.

Nearby Jackson Rancheria, close to Highways 88 and 49, falls into this category.

Spare the Air Day today

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has declared today a "Spare the Air Day." It is the first of the season this year.

The declaration encompasses Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and the Valley portion of Kern counties.

On declared Spare the Air days, residents are encouraged to limit outdoor exertion, running all errands during one trip, taking public transportation and using water-based paints and solvents instead of oil-based products.

Spare the Air season typically runs June through September. For more information and tips, visit http://www.valleyair.org.

Pombo introduces water supply legislation

Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has introduced the National Water Supply Enhancement Act, reauthorizing the Water Desalination Act of 1996 and establishing an advanced water supply enhancement program.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Congresswoman Ellen O. Tauscher, D-Alamo.

It will direct the Secretary of the Interior to work in conjunction with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to develop unique, innovative means for water supply treatment and remediation, including desalination.

In addition, program will emphasize selective contaminant extraction and will use advanced supercomputer modeling to develop such technologies, according to the press release.

The program will also focus on moving technologies from the research and development stage to widespread commercialization. The program will partner with local water agencies and municipalities for demonstration programs.

"Communities in California, and throughout the country are faced with water supply shortages due to contamination," Pombo said in a press release issued Thursday by his office.

"It makes sense to tap our resources, share technology so we take care of problems at hand. I've witnessed contamination in my district and it is a quality-of-life issue. This bill is about bringing the Lab together with local communities facing problems with contamination and working together for solutions."

STARS reach 1 million volunteer hours

FRENCH CAMP -- On Wednesday, the San Joaquin County Sheriff Department's Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors program will have contributed more than 1 million documented hours of community service.

This volunteer program started on Aug. 6, 1991, with the concept of utilizing volunteers to be the eyes and ears of the sheriff's office, according to a press release issued Thursday.

The program is self-supporting with gifts, donations, contributions and fund-raisers without any expense to the taxpayer. It is managed by Crime Prevention Officer Weldon H. Burson.

As of Wednesday, STARS will have accomplished the following:

• 365 volunteers

• Completion of 600,000 vacation checks. (Not one being burglarized)

• 14 marked patrol vehicles to patrol the unincorporated areas for the Sheriff's Patrol Division

• 14 volunteers to assist in the school programs

• Fingerprinted more than 100,000 children

• Provided 24-hour assistance to local, state and federal public safety agencies when needed.

• Mobile Law Enforcement Center staffed and on call 24 hours a day by STARS volunteers with the ability to respond to any incident upon request from the Sheriff's Office.

• Supplies, equipment and expertise, in preparation of food for departmental staff involving emergency call out including disasters and drug sweeps.

• Patrol for all rural school districts to prevent child endangerment.

• Ability to call out 100 trained volunteers via a phone-tree system to assist in searching for a lost person, on scene in one hour or less.

• Transport evidence to the Department of Justice Crime Labs in Sacramento and Richmond.

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