Wal-Mart initiative now in hands of county registrar
City Clerk Susan Blackston delivered the signatures collected by a citizens group that hopes to thwart plans to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Lodi to the San Joaquin County Office of Elections Tuesday morning.
Blackston said Tuesday that her office counted 3,450 unverified signatures on the petitions. Although the citizens group had to collect a minimum of 2,634 from voters registered in Lodi, members estimated that they had garnered 3,650 while collecting signatures at stores including Raley's, Target and Food-4-Less.
The signatures will now be reviewed by the Registrar's Office and validated before the initiative can be placed on the November ballot. Registrar Deborah Hench estimates the process will take 30 days.
Decision on city attorney expected Friday
The Lodi City Council has delayed until Friday its decision on who will be hired as the new city attorney.
Interim City Attorney Stephen Schwabauer has been handling the office's day-to-day duties since the City Council fired Randy Hays in January.
The council has been interviewing applicants, including Schwabauer, at closed sessions held during the last week. On Monday, council members adjourned until Friday when they expect to make a decision, Vice Mayor John Beckman said.
Planning Commission to hear subdivision request
A request to rezone land in southeast Lodi in order to build 80 single-family homes will be heard by the city Planning Commission tonight at Carnegie Forum.
KB Home is asking the city to approve a tentative subdivision map to build "The Villas," an 80-home medium density subdivision on 10.2 acres at 449 E. Harney Lane, near Cherokee Lane. The hearing also includes a request to rezone the land to allow a planned development.
The property on which the proposed subdivision would be built was annexed by the city in 2003, along with an additional property to the west. The project is adjacent to a new elementary school and other low-density homes.
Lodi, Galt mayors to discuss transit funds
Representatives from the cities of Lodi and Galt will meet at 4:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss how the two cities should divide $1.2 million of federal transit money for the 2003-04 fiscal year.
This is the first year that Lodi and Galt have been paired together to divide the transit funds. The two cities have been designated a single "urbanized area" by the U.S. Census Bureau after the 2000 census was conducted.
Lodi officials are concerned about the new arrangement because the city has already committed to a $545,000 payment on its city parking garage at Pine and Sacramento streets. That leaves only $655,000 for Galt and Lodi to share. Galt has not pre-spent its transit dollars for the current fiscal year.
The two cities will not get any federal transit dollars until they agree on how to divide the money.
Three plead no contest to Galt Village incident
Three Galt residents are scheduled to be sentenced June 17 after pleading no contest to different charges stemming from an 17-year-old boy being beaten up and having his jacket and wallet stolen on March 31 at Galt Village Shopping Center on Twin Cities Road, Sacramento County court records show.
Raymond Marez, 18, remains in custody in Sacramento County Jail on $35,000 bail, following pleading no contest to robbery, court records show. He has been promised to be sentenced to no more than one year in county jail, according to court records.
Mark Hernandez, 19, who pleaded no contest to felony grand theft, faces up to 180 days in county jail, records show. He was previously released on $35,000 bail.
Jessica Fuentes, 18, pleaded guilty to grand theft, a misdemeanor, records show.
Three separate meetings scheduled for Thursday in Thornton
Thornton's school and fire boards will meet Thursday night in separate public meetings, and the community's local reclamation district will meet Thursday afternoon.
New Hope School District trustees will conduct a budget study session at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria, 26675 N. Sacramento Blvd.
Thornton Rural Fire District directors, meeting at 7:30 p.m., will consider appointing someone to fill the seat vacated by Andrew Grundman, who moved to Reno in July. However, Grundman's seat wasn't declared vacant until April 8.
Fire directors will also hear an update on one of its fire engines that has been put up for sale. The board may also conduct a closed session on personnel issues and finances. The meeting will be at the fire station, 25999 N. Thornton Road.
At 2 p.m. Thursday, Reclamation District 348 directors will hear an update on the New Hope flood control project and discuss levee rehabilitation from Interstate 5 west to Wimpy's Marina. The board will also discuss the levee break and flooding on Upper Jones Tract.
The reclamation district meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday on the fifth floor at the office of Croce & Co., 501 W. Weber Ave., Stockton.
County to designate 'Spare the Air' days
This year's official smog season has started, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said.
The district will identify "Spare the Air Day" on days when air pollution is forecast to be unhealthy in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced and parts of Kern counties.
Air quality is considered "good" when the air-quality index ranges between 0 and 50. It is "moderate" when it ranges between 51 and 100, and "unhealthy" when it ranges between 101 and 150.
On those days when the quality index hits 151 or higher, the public will be encouraged to carpool, avoid using gas-burning lawnmowers, charcoal barbecues or other polluting pieces of equipment, bike rather than drive, and bring lunch to work to avoid an extra trip.
About 60 percent of the San Joaquin Valley's summer air-pollution problem comes from vehicle use, the district said.
"The best thing you can do is not drive on 'Spare the Air Day,'" said Anthony Presto, a spokesman for the district. But almost everyone can do something, he said.
The smog season starts in June when temperatures start to rise, and lasts through September.
The district will alert the public and businesses that have signed up to receive notifications when air is expected to be unhealthy, district officials said. About 750 businesses have already registered, the district said.
This is the district's ninth "Spare the Air" season. For more information on Spare the Air Day, visit www.valleyair.org.
San Joaquin County fair kicks off next week
Something is growing at the San Joaquin Fair this year.
With the theme "Salute to the Bounty of San Joaquin County," fair officials are recognizing the county's variety of vegetable and vine crops at the annual event, which begins June 16 at the fairgrounds in Stockton.
About 80 people attended Tuesday's kick-off luncheon, an event described as a way for organizers to thank the sponsors and showcase the fair's lineup, said Lea Isetti, marketing and promotions manager.
The mission behind this year's fair is to "promote the importance of agriculture and promote the opportunity for youth involvement and education in agriculture," Isetti said.
San Joaquin Fair CEO Forrest White highlighted two new features of the fair - a look at the single-family farm and the small farm businesses in San Joaquin County - to showcase the fresh fruits and vegetables they provide to the county.
White also discussed the always-popular horse racing and live music attractions. Though one scheduled band withdrew at the last moment, White said, fair officials believe they'll have a replacement in time.
There is also an inaugural pre-fair gala scheduled for June 15. The event will include wine tasting, the opportunity to sample fair food, and a silent auction.
The proceeds from the event will benefit the Thelma Stewart Scholarship, Adam Van Exel Enterprise Grant, Youth Advisory Council, Ag Day at the Fair, Feature Exhibit Peoples Choice Award and Friends of the San Joaquin Fair.
The fair runs June 16 through June 27 and is expected to attract about 200,000 people. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
For more information, call 466-5041; or visit www.sanjoaquinfair.com.
Air officials, group object to Mexican trucks in U.S.
Central Valley air officials and environmental advocates come together in their outrage for the Supreme Court's decision to allow Mexican trucks to operate in the United States.
They said the last thing the valley needs after its air pollution problem was classified as "extreme" is a fleet of unregulated Mexican trucks going up and down Interstate 5 and Highway 99 - which the court's decision on Monday would allow.
"Ouch," said Kevin Hall, the Sierra Club's air quality chairman in Fresno. "And you can spell that with capital letters."
Mexican trucks have little if any of the smog-control equipment required on California-based trucks, and fuel sold in Mexico does not have to meet state or federal clean-air standards.
The impact of Mexican trucks on local air pollution is expected to be significant, but hard to predict, said officials at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
"We do know that it would increase emissions because of the projection of the Mexican trucks to be so much dirtier over time," said Scott Nester, planning manager at the air district.
He said that if one-fourth of the truck traffic in the valley in 2020 is from Mexico, emissions of oxides of nitrogen, a key pollutant, would increase by 4 percent.