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Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2005 10:00 pm

Man pleads guilty to false imprisonment

Just before his trial was set to begin, a Lodi man pleaded guilty Monday to felony false imprisonment and was sentenced to two years in state prison.

Javier Rodriguez Estrada, 37, was the last of six defendants who had been accused of kidnapping and assaulting a Lodi man for 20 hours last October.

Four other area residents stood trial together and, after six weeks, a jury convicted them of false imprisonment. Another suspect pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the other suspects.

Estrada was sentenced to two years in prison, but given 200 days' worth of credit, according to court records. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped kidnapping and assault charges.

The remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced later this month and in early April.

State revises criteria for school district failure

Members on the State Board of Education voted Wednesday to revise how the state identifies school districts failing to meet requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Under an agreement reached Tuesday between the California and federal education officials, the state would place 184 districts, including Lodi Unified, on a needs improvement list.

The list identifies those districts who have failed to meet all federal standards for more than one year.

Lodi Unified officials have said in the past that the act, passed in 2001, doesn't take into account why some students fail to meet standards.

Superintendent Bill Huyett said Tuesday the district was put on the list because its special education students failed to perform on standardized tests at the proficient or advanced levels required by law.

California previously used measurement tools for determining district improvement that were not compliant with federal regulations.

Officials at the federal level guessed as many as 310 of California's 1,000 districts might be failing requirements, but the compromise saw only 184 districts left on the list.

Merchants meet again about crime issues

For the fourth time since January, business owners in downtown Lockeford discussed ways to combat burglaries and other crime to their stores on Monday night.

Like the three previous meetings, merchants discussed forming a business-oriented Neighborhood Watch group and the idea of hiring a private security company to patrol the Highway 88 corridor, especially in the middle of the night, said Jim Schardt, owner of Roadrunner Coffee on Highway 88.

At least six businesses in Lockeford and Clements were burglarized or damaged in attempted burglaries during the first half of January, Schardt said.

Bill Hughes, who coordinates Neighborhood Watch programs for the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department, told merchants on Monday what steps they can take to deter crime. They include watching out for each other's businesses and reporting any suspicious activity to the Sheriff's Department.

Another meeting has been scheduled for April.

Board to discuss long-term wastewater options

Lockeford Community Services District directors, meeting at 9 a.m. today, will continue their review of long-term plans to accommodate future residential development.

The district, which provides water and sewer service in Lockeford, lacks enough land to dispose treated sewage for any future development, except for the first 73 homes of the 307-home Lockeford Oaks subdivision northeast of Brandt and Jack Tone roads.

In addition to getting pressure from developer Ed Pestana to expand its sewer capacity to serve the remaining homes in his subdivision, a Pleasanton developer is anxious to build 70 to 85 homes south of Highway 88 in the east end of Lockeford. The district board will discuss today whether to issue sewer permits for the Black Mountain Development to build the 70-plus homes.

In other action, the Community Services District board will hear an update on the old Lockeford Schoolhouse renovation project and converting one of the district's four wells to solar power.

Today's meeting will be held at the Lockeford Community Center's McDonald Building, 19456 N. Jack Tone Road.

Fire board to discuss five-year building plan

The Thornton Fire board will discuss its five-year building plan at tonight's board meeting.

The board will also discuss one of its old fire engines that is up for sale. In closed session, the board will discuss a personnel issue.

Today's meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the fire station, 25999 N. Thornton Road.

Freeport water project to be discussed

Gerald Schwartz, Central Valley liaison for the East Bay Municipal Utility District, and Cecilia Curry of the Freeport Regional Water Agency will give an update on the Freeport water pipeline project at tonight's meeting of the Southeast Area Community Planning Advisory Council.

In other action, the council will hear about draft policies on open space and preserving prime agricultural land in Sacramento County The council will also hear a request by applicant Monte Seibel for a tentative map for a nine-lot subdivision on the north side of Twin Cities Road near Waldo Road.

Today's meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the community building behind the Herald firehouse on Ivie Road, just south of Twin Cities Road.

The planning council makes land-use recommendations to Sacramento County concerning areas north, east and west of the Galt city limits.

Higher insurance costs OK'd for county retirees

It's going to cost retired San Joaquin County employees more for health insurance.

Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved renewing the current health care packages for the retired employees, even though most providers have said they will increase premiums.

Health care costs continue to rise throughout the United States, a report from the county's Personnel Department said. h To reflect the increase, retired employees' premiums for health care coverage are expected to rise from 3.5 percent to 23.79 percent, depending on the plan.

The two exceptions are Kaiser Senior Advantage Plan and the HealthNet Seniority Plus Plan. Kaiser's cost, which has 424 retirees enrolled, will drop by 2.13 percent and HealthNet's cost, with three retirees enrolled, will drop by 7.8 percent, thanks to federal subsidies.

Dental costs will also increase for the retirees, from 3 percent to 14 percent. But it's the first increase in two years.

Under the Pacificare 144 dental plan, rates will increase from $18.16 to $20.77 a month per person. For retirees using Pacificare 844 dental plan, rates will go from $36.08 to $37.88 a month per person.

For retirees under Blue Cross, the monthly rate will increase from $282.23 to $327.27 per person. For two people under Blue Cross, the cost will rise from $579.34 to 671.61 per month.

Single retirees using Kaiser California will see a drop in their monthly payments, from $238.63 to $233.54. For two, monthly costs will drop from $477.26 to $467.08.

The changes will go into effect May 1.

Retired employees pay 100 percent of their health insurance costs to the changes won't cost the county any money.

Supervisor Jack Sieglock was absent from the 4-0 vote.

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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?

Total Votes: 216

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