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Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2005 10:00 pm

West Nile virus activity continues in San Joaquin County

San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District has detected additional West Nile virus activity in a flock of chickens located in a rural area between Stockton and Lodi.

The recent test results substantiate the fact that the mosquito-borne virus is still active in the area, according to the district.

Mild weather and flooding for agriculture and waterfowl habitat in the Delta-area has extended the mosquito season, so it is important that residents continue to take precautions against mosquito bites to reduce their exposure to the virus. To do so, take these precautions:

• Apply insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET when outdoors.

• Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, at dawn and dusk, and especially for the first two hours after sunset.

• When outdoors, wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and other protective clothing.

• Exclude mosquitoes from your home with tight-fitting screens on doors and windows.

• Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property that can support mosquito breeding.

• Contact your veterinarian for information on vaccinating equine against the virus.

• Report significant mosquito infestations to San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District at 982-4675 or (800) 300-4675.

The district will continue to monitor for mosquito-borne diseases throughout the year and will take all necessary actions to reduce mosquito populations to a safe level.

To date, there have been 36 human cases, 19 horse cases, 38 groups of mosquitoes, and six flocks of sentinel chickens that have tested positive for the virus in this county.

Two indicted on federal drug charges

Two area men, one of whom was arrested earlier this month by the SWAT team at his Woodbridge home, have been indicted on federal drug charges that could send them to prison for life.

Ernesto Manuel Aguila, 24, of Woodbridge, and Scott Allen Yarborough, 41, of Lodi, are being held without bail in the Sacramento County Jail. Both face multiple charges of methamphetamine distribution after a federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday.

Aguila was arrested Nov. 3 after the Lodi Police SWAT team, along with San Joaquin County and federal Drug Enforcement Agency investigators raided his home in the 19200 block of Benedict Drive.

Aguila was allegedly trying to flush drugs down the toilet when police arrived, officials said at the time. Investigators seized methamphetamine that could have been sold for roughly $150,000 on the street, a DEA spokeswoman said after the arrest.

Yarborough was arrested later, and he made his first appearance in federal court Tuesday.

The arrests were the culmination of a two-month investigation involving several drug buys with a confidential source, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Grand jurors indicted Aguila on one count each of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams methamphetamine. Yarborough was also indicted on conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine, in addition to charges of distributing at least five grams of the drug, and two counts of distributing at least 50 grams.

The charges carry penalties of up to life in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Leadership Lodi graduation tonight

After a year of learning the inner workings of the Lodi community and completing a project that provided 600-plus fleece blankets for needy children, the Leadership Lodi Class of 2005 will graduate in a ceremony tonight at Oak Ridge Winery.

More than 80 people are expected to attend the graduation, which will feature a presentation by class member Kelly Higgs on the "Blankets of Love: Just for You" project, and the presentation of plaques to the leadership program's sponsors - General Mills, Lodi Memorial Hospital and Farmers and Merchants Bank.

Through corporate and community donations, the Class of 2005 raised $12,600 for the project - the most any class has raised in the 15 years of the program. More than $6,000 of that sum will be donated to Lodi Cancer Kids, which provides assistance of the families of local cancer victims.

Lodi Cancer Kids founders Don and Peggy Walters will be presented with a check and will announce how the funds will be used.

The 2005 class includes Sheri Aguilar, SSB Realtors; Jake Armstrong, Lodi News-Sentinel; Glenn Barge, Lodi Memorial Hospital; Dianne Blankenship, Miller Packing Company; Kimberley Borgens, Delta Protective Services; Cynthia Butler, Lodi Memorial Hospital; Cindy Enos, Golden Graphics, Inc.; Kelly Higgs, Geweke Auto Group; Ann Jordan, state Sen. Chuck Poochigian; Sandy Kosaka, Wells Fargo Bank; Cheri Spivey, Bank of America; Crista Steele, Farmers and Merchants Bank; Olga Taran, General Mills; and Max Tutupoly, Lodi Memorial Hospital.

The 2006 class, which will be introduced at the graduation event, includes Andrew Adams and Kimberly Anger, Lodi News-Sentinel; Susan Barsetti, Farmer and Merchants Bank; Linda Brown, Lodi Memorial Hospital; Tiffani Fink, city of Lodi; Rosa Harnack, New York Life; Susan Henderson, Lodi Memorial Hospital; Crystal Kirst, Tokay Development; Christine Duncan, Coldwell Banker Commercial, The Duncan Company; Nancy Martinez, Lodi Public Library; Diana Matthews, Lodi Memorial Hospital; Linda Ogata, Pacific State Bank; Steven Schrag, General Mills; Donna Shaw, Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation; Kelly Stump, Lodi Memorial Hospital; Tracy Wlliams, LOEL Foundation; and Lindsey Yip, Community Business Bank.

A no-host wine bar will be open from 6-7 p.m., and the Central Valley band Threshold will provide entertainment for dancing. The winery is located at 6100 E. Highway 12.

Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased at the office of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, at 35 S. School St., until 4 p.m. today. Lodi

Wine, beer license for Velvet Grill approved

Overturning previous decisions by the Lodi Planning Commission, the Lodi City Council approved a wine and beer license for the Velvet Grill restaurant, 1421 S. Ham Lane.

Planning commissioners had previously denied the license because they felt the restaurant's owner, Kirk Smith, did not sufficiently address their concerns by not attending any of the commission's hearings on the matter held in August and September.

Smith, however, appealed the commission's decision to the council and attended the council's meeting Wednesday night.

The council decided a wine and beer license would be appropriate for the restaurant and approved one with a vote of 4-0. Mayor John Beckman had to recuse himself from the decision after he realized he lived near the Velvet Grill.

Disaster relief group to solicit funds at Parade

The city of Lodi has given the Lodi Disaster Relief Coalition permission to solicit funds for Gulf Coast communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The Parade of Lights will be held on Dec. 1.

Money will be collected to purchase bleach, which is desperately needed to clean structures in Louisiana and Mississippi, said newly elected coalition President Tom Hoffman.

Other officers elected at Tuesday's coalition meeting are Vice President Lana Carouba, Secretary Rhonda Alaria and Treasurer Richard Thornton.

The group's mailing address is 115 W. Walnut St., Suite 4, Lodi, CA 95240.

Two men accused of vandalizing water tower

Two men were arrested Wednesday night after allegedly vandalizing a Lockeford water tower.

Jose Luiz Pintor, 22, and Kevin Michael Wisecarver II, 19, were spotted climbing down from the tower, located in the 13400 block of Church Street, around 11:04 p.m., according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department.

The two long-time friends allegedly caused about $1,000 in damages, deputies reported.

Both were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and vandalism.

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