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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2005 10:00 pm

Family awakes to find burglar in house

A Lodi family awoke early Thursday morning to discover that an unknown man had broken into their home and was going through every single room, police said.

The residents were asleep at 12:34 a.m. in their home in the 800 block of Alder Place when a child first woke up, Lt. Bill Barry said. The suspect, who was wearing dark clothing, fled and dropped jewelry on the sidewalk in the process, Barry said.

The man had apparently gotten into the house through an open garage window, Barry said.

Nobody was injured, but police warned residents to secure windows and doors, close gates and consider installing extra lighting outside.

By Thursday evening, there had been no arrests.

Jury convicts man of armed robbery spree

A man accused of eight armed robberies last summer, including three in Lodi, was convicted Wednesday by a San Joaquin County jury and could spend decades in prison.

Alex Gabriel Rodriguez, 21, of Isleton, will return to court Sept. 26, where he will be sentence to perhaps as much as 68 years in state prison, Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott said.

Rodriguez was arrested in September after a string of armed robberies that caused Lodi Police to warn businesses and distribute fliers, then form a task force between several law enforcement agencies.

In Lodi, three small businesses were robbed, each time by a man demanding money. At Tokay Market, 2525 S. Hutchins St., the suspect fired shots when the owner ran out the back door, police said at the time.

At both Weinerschnitzel, 220 S. Cherokee Lane, and USA Gas at Lodi Avenue and Lower Sacramento Road, the suspect pointed a gun and demanded that money be placed in a pillowcase.

The case began to break Sept. 9 when Turlock officers responded to an ATM burglary and got into a shoot-out with the suspect.

After Rodriguez is sentenced in San Joaquin County, he is expected to be transferred to Stanislaus County, where he is wanted on a $1 million warrant for attempted murder charges.

Forgery suspect gets 3 more months jail time

A Lodi man who pleaded no contest to forgery and was sentenced to six months in jail will spend an extra three months in jail.

When he pleaded no contest June 28, Jason Hosking, 23, was allowed to wait until Aug. 2 to go to jail, according to San Joaquin County court records. When he failed to appear, an arrest warrant was issued and Lodi Police arrested him last week.

On Monday, a judge increased Hosking's total jail time to 270 days, according to court records. This time, the judge did not allow him to report to jail at a later date.

Hosking was first arrested March 10 when officers arrived for a probation search and allegedly found counterfeit money in his Banyan Drive home. Detectives arrested both Hosking and Jennifer Pierstorff, 23.

Pierstorff, who is charged with one count of making a false check, waived a preliminary hearing in June and is scheduled to return to court June 22.

Council approves litigation costs

The Lodi City Council approved more than $200,000 to pay for ongoing litigation concerning the city's groundwater contamination at its meeting Wednesday night. And, in other action, the council:

• Honored the Greater Lodi Area Youth Commissioners, Gabi DelCastillo, Brent Dutra, Ricky Gill and Elisa Villarreal with a City Council resolution of appreciation.

• Approved the installation of a stop sign at the corner of Giannoni Way and Legacy Way, near Larson Elementary School.

• Authorized allocating $15,844 of the city's Public Benefit Program funds for Cottage Bakery to install energy efficient lighting and other improvements to save power.

• Adopted a resolution to support for Assembly Bill 438 to protect families living in rental communities from serious and high-risk sex offenders.

• Announced a Sept. 7 public hearing for a discussion on the city's unmet transit needs.

Electronic waste cleanup event Saturday

The City of Lodi Electric Utility is sponsoring the city's third electronic waste clean-up and recycling event on Saturday from 7-10 a.m. at the Grape Festival at the corner of Calaveras and Lockeford streets.

Lodi residents may bring computer hardware, computer monitors and television sets to the event for proper disposal and recycling. Customers may recycle a maximum of three computers and two television sets.

Eligible customers must present a valid California driver's license, a copy of their current City of Lodi utility bill or another utility billing statement. The first 150 eligible customers will receive a coupon valued at $50 toward the purchase of an EnergyStar computer system or TV set from a Lodi retailer.

The project promotes the appropriate disposal of hazardous electronic equipment, which may contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury and flame retardants that pose a threat to the environment.

Parade of Lights needs theme

The Downtown Lodi Business Partnership is seeking the public's help in choosing a theme for the 10th annual Parade of Lights to be held Thursday, Dec. 1 in downtown Lodi.

This year, the DLBP is giving back to the local community by letting the public choose the theme. Past themes have included "White Christmas," "Joy to the World" and "Christmas Magic."

Entries should include the proposed theme and a short paragraph explaining why your theme deserves to be chosen.

The winner will receive free entry into the parade, a gift worth $150 in items from downtown Lodi merchants and recognition on this year's parade poster. Entries must be submitted by Sept. 16 and can be mailed to P.O. Box 1565, Lodi, CA 95241, faxed to 369-8053 or e-mailed to deanne@downtownlodi.com.

Lodi wine exec honored by Sunset Magazine

Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission executive director Mark Chandler was named "Wine Professional of the Year" by Sunset Magazine at its first Western Wine Awards Dinner in Menlo Park last Friday. The award was presented by Sunset senior wine editor Sara Schneider, with Narsai David of KCBS acting as master of ceremonies.

Popular writer, author and TV personality Andrea Immer Robinson shared the honor. About 60 wine industry luminaries were in attendance at the awards ceremony.

"This award is exciting for me and exciting for Lodi," Chandler said. "It demonstrates that Lodi is assuming its rightful place in the world of fine wine. Our wines and our region are among the best and the wine world is taking notice."

The complete Western Wine Awards will run in the September issue of Sunset, with a story on the Lodi wine region to follow in October.

Boys and Girls Club funding postponed

The Galt City Council deferred a decision to allocate city money on Tuesday to the Galt Boys and Girls Club because club officials didn't indicate why they wanted city money and how they would use it.

Shane McLatchey, the club's executive director, said Thursday that the club didn't request a specific amount, leaving it up to the council to decide how much they might want to contribute. The city previously gave the Boys and Girls Club $19,600 annually, primarily for the maintenance of the city-owned club building at Caroline and Chabolla avenues.

However, the City Council terminated its annual contribution earlier this year because the building will soon be torn down because of mold in the building.

The council might reconsider the funding request after meeting with Boys and Girls Club officials.

In other action, the council awarded a $221,000 contract to Hester Roofing to replace the roof at City Hall and a tiled portion of the roof at Littleton Community Center.

Six candidates on Thornton fire ballot

Two incumbents and four challengers will square off for three seats on the Thornton Rural County Fire Protection District board in the Nov. 8 election.

Clayton Henke will seek re-election to the five-member board and appointed incumbent Frank Yoka Jr., will run for a full four-year term. Also on the ballot will be challengers Lance Casqueiro, Walter Chumbley, Jacob Doushy and Karen D. Honer.

Casquiero is a transportation supervisor, Chumbley is a truck driver, Doushy owns a Laundromat in Thornton and two in Sacramento and Honer is a wastewater operations manager.

Landfill search yields no sign of Starkey's body

After spending two days searching a Manteca landfill, San Joaquin County Sheriff's deputies still have not found the body of Mary Starkey, who vanished June 16.

Investigators believe the 46-year-old Ripon woman is dead, and a Manteca man has been charged with her murder.

On Wednesday and Thursday, more than 25 investigators sifted through 21,000 tons of trash at Allied Waste Co. on Austin Road in Manteca. The search ended unsuccessfully Thursday, Sheriff's spokesman Les Garcia said in a press release.

Since June, investigators have search fields, orchards, parks and manholes in Manteca. Garcia said Thursday that detectives have followed all leads, though they are still looking for anyone who may have information.

Starkey was last seen June 16, leaving her home after a man expressed interest in buying her boat, then left to get money from the bank. Her car was later found at Franzia Winery in Ripon.

Roy Smith, a convicted sex offender who works at the winery, has been charged with murder in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at 468-4400.

Pacific ranked among 'Best Colleges'

University of the Pacific has received its highest-ever ranking in the prestigious U.S. News and World Report ranking of the nation's top universities. The magazine's annual guide to America's "best colleges" hits newsstands Monday.

For the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News has also named Pacific one of 50 "Great Schools at Great Prices," according to a press release issued by the university.

Pacific climbed to 104th place, up from last year's ranking at 111 on the list of 248 doctoral degree-granting universities. Pacific shares this position with University of Alabama, University of Dayton (Ohio), University of Massachusetts, Amherst and University of San Diego.

With just over 6,000 students enrolled at its campuses in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco, Pacific is one of the smallest universities to be ranked this high in a category dominated by large research institutions.

Pacific stands out when compared to the nation's top universities on measures of personalized learning. Some 59 percent of the university's classes have fewer than 20 students, a higher rate than is found at three-quarters of all ranked universities nationally. Pacific's percentage of small classes exceeds those of such well regarded institutions as Johns Hopkins University; University of Chicago; University of Notre Dame; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis; and Georgetown University. In fact, only four universities in California have better percentages.

In the magazine's list of "Great Schools at Great Prices," Pacific ranks 39th and is among just a handful of California institutions, including California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Pepperdine University.

The U.S. News and World Report rankings are available at http://www.usnews.com starting today. For more information about University of the Pacific, visit http://www.pacific.edu.

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