You can expect power blackouts to happen in Lodi this summer, according to city officials. The state is predicting outages and Lodi should prepare to share in the darkness, the city manager’s office says.

This is in spite of the fact that Lodi generates much of its own electricity with its stake in the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA). Blackouts were projected last year, but didn’t happen. However, the power shortage anticipated this summer appears to be twice as bad, say city officials.

The cause of the shortage is insufficient renewable energy after the sun goes down. Fossil fuel-powered plans have been decommissioned and shut down at a faster pace than renewable energy plants have come online. The result is the lights go out.

COOLING DOWN: It appears the local real estate market is beginning to cool off. Homes are being sold for only 100 percent of the asking price, instead of $50,000 more, reports local real estate pro Larry Underhill with a wink and smile. As of a week or so ago there were only 52 active listings in Lodi. Not many. The average listing is being sold in about 22 days, says Underhill — which is still remarkable. He says average includes the “over-priced turkey” that languishes around for six months and properties that sell overnight. There is currently slightly less than one month’s inventory and Underhill says that prices “fell” to 100 percent of asking in April, compared to 101 percent of asking in March. Even as Underhill expects the economy to soon enter a recession, he says he and others believe it will have a muted effect on real estate prices because the market is so under-supplied right now. “Demand continues to outstrip supply. This is projected to continue for years to come,” he says. Online real estate firm Zillow recently predicted Lodi-area home values will shoot up 16.8 percent this year.

UPDATES: Mallory Stewart, who pleaded guilty to the murder of Dr. Tom Shock and his role as the shooter, will be sentenced on June 13, a month later than planned. Stewart took a last-minute plea deal to avoid the death penalty. Meanwhile, co-defendant Robert Lee, who was found guilty of hiring three men to murder Shock in 2018, has filed an appeal.

THE WINNER IS: Jeremy Wine Company was recently named Winery of the Year by the Visit Lodi organization. The award is given to a local winery that has “made a significant contribution to the Lodi tourism industry.” Owner Jeremy Trettevik remembers being a banquet server at Wine and Roses 25 years ago and thinking he very much wanted to be part of the wine culture. And now he is.

NEWS FROM AFAR: Former Lodian Dixie Hughes Smith spotted an article in the Monterey Herald newspaper the other day wherein it mentions Lodi Unified School District and the emphasis the district puts on student literacy. The article, written by Dan Walters, credits LUSD with prioritizing reading and social-emotional learning in its plan to help students recover from the pandemic. In short, the article says phonics have had a “miraculous effect” on reading skills in Lodi Unified. There has been a “sharp increase” in literacy test scores in at least two schools who’ve adopted the teaching method. Susan Peterson, the district’s director of elementary education, said in the article, “The number one priority is to send every child into the world knowing how to read.” And it appears to be working.

FLASHBACK: Lodi’s first known bank robbery happened at the School Street Bank of America on March 28, 1968. According to police, Glenn O. Dodgion, a 20-year-old county honor farm escapee and parolee from the California Youth Authority, was the prime suspect. He entered the bank at about 1:10 p.m. and handed a note to Mrs. Candice Miller, 20-year-old teller at window number three. The note said he had a gun and demanded money in small denominations. Dodgion hurried out with $1,420 in cash. Miller turned to Maxine Wudel, the teller next to her, and told her what just happened. The first police officer to arrive on scene was Leland Schmiedt, who happened to be doing parking patrol duty across the street at the time. Police Chief Emil Keszler said this was the first known bank heist in Lodi. Bank manager A.A. Cristofani gave high praise to the young teller, who kept her cool through the ordeal. “She didn’t lose her calm, she followed directions quickly, and was able to give a good description of the suspect,” Cristofani said at the time. Police said the robber called in a bomb threat to Lodi High School to draw officers away from downtown. Dodgion was also a suspect in a similar bank robbery in Tracy the week before. He was captured by CHP officers about 36 hours later on the outskirts of Tracy. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. It was the first, but there have been countless Lodi bank robberies in the years since.

IN THE NEWS: The Grapevine News is a relatively new online news service founded in 2020 by Hector Madrigal, an unsuccessful city council candidate in 2020. But now he operates this new news source, which he describes as being “an independent news outlet for the San Joaquin County region.”

AT YOUR SERVICE: Have you ever spoken to one of those customer service folks and found they were speaking to you from half-way around the world? Of course you have. Ever wondered how much they make? We spoke to one of them the other day. She sounded young and confessed that she lives at home in Honduras with her parents. It was hot that day, around 97 degrees, she said, and there was no air conditioning. It had to be stifling with the humidity. She said she works eight hours a day from her home and earns 625 lempira (Honduras money) per month. That equals about $26 U.S. dollars.

POOPER SCOOPERS: Here are some interesting small businesses you may have never heard of: Pet Waste Removal Services (Lodi Super Scoopers) who come to your home and pick up after FeFe or Fido, so you don’t have to. … If you’re throwing a kids (of all ages) party, check out Filo's Xtreme Gaming Truck out of Stockton. They bring the game to you. Operators pull up to your party with a trailer filled with all kinds of gaming systems, virtual reality simulators, televisions, and an interactive cone light system. … To record the festivities for posterity, check out Society Photo Booth. They bring the photobooth to your party. They deliver and set up, provide an attendant, and include props and backdrops. Snap and see instantly.

REMEMBRANCE: We note the recent passing of Joe Hammonds. Joe dedicated his life to teaching, and was a recipient of the California Teachers Association Golden Apple award for his outstanding efforts in the classroom. He was also a fixture on the Lodi High track, where he ran his laps to keep in shape. But lastly, he was a genuine good guy.


Steve is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears most Tuesdays in the News-Sentinel. Write to Steve at