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Posted: Sunday, March 5, 2006 10:00 pm

Planning commission to meet

The Lodi Planning Commission will meet Wednesday to discuss a subdivision of one parcel into six at 495 N. Guild Ave. and the expansion of a self-storage company by 18,000 square feet at the existing business location, 645 E. Hale Road.

School officials to examine high school academies, student reading program

Lodi Unified School District officials will hear a progress report Tuesday on as many as 10 high school learning academies introduced to local high schools this year.

The district receives $243,000 in state grants each year and matches those funds to establish personalized learning environments that focus on a particular emphasis of study.

The practice helps students form groups on heavily populated campuses and encourages the bond between teacher and student.

Academies currently being tested are the Sun Institute for science and technology and Apple, an education training program, at Lodi High School.

In other matters Tuesday, board members will vote to apply as much as $211,000 toward a technology-based reading program that would target needy students in all low-performing schools in Lodi and north Stockton.

Destination Reading, a program developed by Riverdeep, Inc., allows teachers to display lessons on a liquid crystal display (LCD) projector and incorporates visual graphics with sound clues.

Some of the schools which would stand to benefit from a yes vote include Lawrence, Heritage, Needham and Nichols elementary schools as well as Delta Sierra and Morada middle schools.

The meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the James Areida Education Support Center, 1305 E. Vine St.

Mokelumne River group, groundwater projects to be discussed

Reports on an agreement among participants in a Mokelumne River water forum, groundwater recharge rental agreements for this year and the controversial Auburn Dam will be among the topics at Tuesday's North San Joaquin Water Conservation District meeting.

Water district directors will also review a requirement by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board that permits are needed to conduct a pilot test to spread Mokelumne River water onto private property in Acampo. Also on the agenda is a report on the Micke Grove Trust groundwater recharge project.

Tuesday's meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Lodi News-Sentinel office, 125 N. Church St.

Vice mayor to meet with public

Galt Vice Mayor Randy Shelton will be available to the community from 1 to 4 p.m. on Mondays preceding regular City Council meetings. Shelton will be at City Hall, 380 Civic Drive, but residents are encouraged to call the city clerk's office, 366-7130, to make sure Shelton isn't meeting with someone else.

Chamber to host St. Patrick's party

Live music by Donnie and the Wayrads, steak and scampi, green beer, margaritas and a silent auction will highlight the Galt District Chamber of Commerce's St. Patrick's Day party.

The dinner-dance will begin at 6:30 p.m. March 17 at Littleton Community Center, 410 Civic Drive.

Tickets priced at $25 are available at the Galt chamber office, Farmers and Merchants Bank on C Street, Realty World - Parker and Del Grande, Chicago Title, LaVine Insurance and Hair Works.

Part of the proceeds will benefit the chamber's political action committee. For more information, call 745-2529.

Water watchers hope for more snow in March

State water watchers hope last week's storms will bring more snow to the Sierra after the most recent measurement showed a lower-than-average snowpack.

The California Department of Water Resources considers the snowpack as the state's largest reservoir, as the spring runoff fills reservoirs in the foothills.

Frank Gehrke, snow survey section chief for the DWR, said a couple dry weeks in February put the snowpack below average, but March has the potential to produce enough precipitation to keep state reservoirs full.

"The encouraging part for many areas is that reservoir storage for this timeframe is above average," he said. The southern Sierra, he added, is slightly above average for accumulated snow.

"Whether precipitation comes down as rain or snow has a big impact on how we manage it," he said.

More than 4 feet of accumulated snow near Echo Summit, just south of Lake Tahoe along Highway 50, indicated between 70 percent to 84 percent of the average snowpack at four measurement stations. But electronic measurements of water content in the snowpack showed 96 percent to 106 percent of average.

The California Farm Bureau Federation will wait to see the results of the next two snowpack surveys in early April and May before it expresses optimism.

"They like to see it above average this time of year," said Ron Miller, farm bureau spokesman.

Miller added that this week's snowfall in the Sierra, expected to continue into tonight, is encouraging.

Dan Nelson, executive director of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which operates the Tracy Pumping Plant and Delta-Mendota Canal, said he's not worried about enough water in the state's reservoirs as much as how water flows through the Delta this spring.

"In a year like this, the thing we're watching the closest is the restrictions to the pumping plants in the Delta," he said.

Even if there is plenty of water this year, the federal pumps the authority manages are at the mercy of the Delta smelt, a threatened species that can shut down the pumps if the already-slim populations of the fish show up near the pump's intake canal along the Old River.

"There's a lot of uncertainty this year because of the low numbers of Delta smelt," he said. "In a year like this, it's more of a regulatory drought."

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