THORNTON - Shelley Lopes is a human dynamo in Thornton. She was recently appointed to the Municipal Advisory Council, and now she's trying to raise money to restore hours to the Thornton Library, which were reduced due to budget cuts.
Lopes, 53, is a major fan of the library and wants to do anything she can to help it. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors reduced Thornton's weekly library hours from 31 hours to 23.
The library, at the corner of Thornton and Walnut Grove roads, is frequently filled with students after school during the school year, and adults use it before students come in, Lopes said.
Lopes, branch librarian Mark Rodriguez and Thornton resident Marlene Corbitt are among the people who have revamped a Friends of the Library in Thornton. They have also raised about $2,800 of the $13,000 they need - $2,000 of it from Walnut Grove resident Gornto Ditching - to have a full-time staff person to cover the eight lost hours, Rodriguez said.
Lopes, a vivacious woman with a bubbly personality, has a perpetual smile and loves to talk. She's filled with enthusiasm for all her pursuits.
"We came here (to Thornton) and loved it," Lopes said. "I died and went to heaven."
Born and raised in Oakland, Lopes was an accountant for 25 years and became disabled in 1992, when she developed multiple sclerosis. She credits God for eliminating her disease in six years, and for curing her of heart disease.
She lived in Madera and Fairfield before moving to Thornton in May of 2008.
Lopes has been married to Cornelius "Lucky" Countet since 2003, though they have been together for 23 years. They applied at several locations for public housing and were accepted at Thornton's Mokelumne Manor complex.
Lopes has two children and five grandchildren.
Lopes wants to take classes at California State University, Sacramento, to get a bachelor's degree in psychology, become a psychologist and learn to be a medical insurance quoter.
But for now, Lopes wants to keep the library open as many hours as possible, and she's determined to do whatever it takes.
A bulk of the donations came from Ditching, who sells irrigation drainage systems. His office is about two miles from the library.
"I remember what the town used to be like without the library," Ditching said. "I like helping the kids. It keeps them off the street a little bit."
Ken Yamashita, deputy director of library services for the Stockton-San Joaquin County library system, which runs each library branch except for Lodi's, is encouraged by what Lopes and other Thornton residents are doing.
"It's great that there's this grassroots support for the library," Yamashita said.
Lopes is involved in many activities besides library fundraising.
- The Board of Supervisors recently appointed her to the Thornton Municipal Advisory Council, a seven-member council that makes recommendations to county officials. Her first MAC meeting was in June.
- She is vice president of the Housing Resident Council at Mokelumne Manor.
- She serves on the Residential Advisory Board of the county Housing Authority, representing Thornton's interests in how federal stimulus funds are spent.
- She volunteers for Paula Soto at the Thornton Community Center, packing bags of groceries monthly for low-income residents.
- She serves in the prison ministry, including four at the Valley State Prison for women in Chowchilla and one at San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.
New library hours
- Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30 to 6 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Closed Sunday, Monday and Wednesday
The library will also be closed Nov. 23-29, Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, and March 19 and April 23, 2010.
Before July 1, the library was open five days a week for a total of 31 hours.
Source: Thornton Library
Mobile library hours retained in Lockeford, Clements
San Joaquin County's mobile library has had its hours cuts in some parts of the county, but not in Lockeford or Clements.
The mobile library, commonly known as a bookmobile, is available from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays at Highway 88 and third Street in Clements; 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. Thursdays at Parkdale Street and Lockwood Lane in Lockeford's Bear Creek neighborhood; and from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Thursdays at Cotton and Laird streets in Lockeford.
The mobile library doesn't serve other north county communities.
Source: Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library