As reported here earlier, Bennett Homes of Lodi is proposing to develop property just south of Harney lane between Mills and Lower Sacramento Road. This month the city council is set to approve a “reimbursement agreement” that would allow the city to recoup its costs of examining the proposal before it proceeds. The Perrin Ranch project is situated on the old Joe Beckman land and will include a gated senior living community with about 420 homes. It will feature a park and clubhouse as part of the senior community amenities. About 310 “market rate” homes are also being proposed and will front onto Harney Lane. After Bennett gets the green light from the city, the land will need to be annexed into the city and then the proposal will move onward to the planning commission for consideration. Developer Dennis Bennett says the project will take about seven to 10 years to build out, but he believes there is a big demand for new senior housing. Bennett has arguably built the most homes in Lodi over the past 45 years he’s been in business.

SWEET MEMORIES: Our piece last week about Blewett’s Creamery prompted even more people to share their memories. Glenda Winchester King passed on this heartwarming story about her dad and Howard Blewett: “One morning my mother, Lena Winchester, went out to get (the milk) and it was gone. So Mr. Blewett delivered again. When the next delivery was made, the milk was gone again. Mr. Blewett replaced it (again). This went on for about two weeks. Not every day, but enough (that) it upset Mr. Blewett and my dad, James “Windy” Winchester. So they decided to stake out our front door and find the person taking the milk. Well, a young woman in her 20s showed up and took the milk. The men (discreetly) followed her home so they could tell the police. She lived about a block away in an apartment over someone’s house. So the next morning they decided to confront her instead of calling the police. When they knocked on the door, a child about 5 (years old) opened the door. They asked to speak to the mother and he let them in. There were (two) other small children in the home also. As soon as the mother saw the men, she knew why they were there. She immediately started to cry and share her story. Her husband had abandoned the family, taking all the money they had. She found a small job that didn’t pay much but (it covered) most of their bills. She always ran out of milk and money. She was very sorry for taking the milk and it would not happen again. Mr. Blewett and my dad were family men and gentlemen.” The two men decided to deliver milk and other dairy products to the lady, free of charge. “Mr. Blewett donated the delivery and my dad paid for the goods at cost. That’s the kind of men they were,” says Glenda.

MAN IN BLACK: James Garner is back and will be performing his tribute to Johnny Cash live at Hutchins Street Square on Saturday, May 18. If you’ve never seen his show, it is amazing and well worth admission. He looks and sounds remarkably like Johnny Cash himself. Garner packs the house, too. He last performed at the Square a couple years ago and had fans dancing in the aisle. Garner lives in the area and plays with other local musicians, including local music producer Rick Duncan. Tickets are available online.

SHOW-STOPPER: Last month we told you about the rapper superstar from India, Sidhu Moose Wala, who was in town for a special concert at Hutchins Street Square. Turns out the performance was a bust. Officials confirm that the performance had to be cut short because of fistfights amongst members of the audience. The booze reportedly started flowing well before the curtain went up and fans were arriving all liquored up. A few skirmishes turned into a brawl, overwhelming security. It got out of control. Police were called. The show was reportedly stopped after just 40 minutes.

FLYN’ HIGH: What do you get a guy who has everything and is celebrating 50 years as a licensed pilot? Well, grab your Dramamine, folks, we’re cleared for takeoff! It’s always been Stan Helmle’s dream to fly a P-51 Mustang airplane “one more time.” So he got his wish recently, thanks to friend Lee Lauderback, who happens to own one of the 160 such planes left in existence. While Stan was at the stick, cruising along, zooming through Cloud Nine, two other Mustangs appeared out of thin air and joined Stan and Lee in formation. No way, dude! Not only that, but they were flying the dual seat models (only 10 left in the world)!, Stan giggles. Must have been rare air up there. What would be a yawner for most of us is a dream come true for Stan, who spends most of his time at the hangar and flying around with the rich and famous. A Lodi native, Stan worked as an IT professional, retiring a few years ago.

RAIN GUAGE: That sloshing sound you hear may be your rain gauge. Lodi has seen some 28.88 inches of rain this season — almost 10 inches above normal -- according to Dr. Sweeney’s Lodi Lake Weather website, Lodi’s go-to weather reporting station. Lodi received 15.17 inches last year, well below the 19.13-inch average.

THE BEAR COMETH: Rumors that the deal with Black Bear Diner has fallen through are not true, according to Browman Development Company, owner of the shopping center where the restaurant chain will locate. While a date cannot be given by either Browman or Black Bear headquarters, a Browman officials says the Bear will “be open before the end of the year, for sure.” The restaurant will be located in the Target shopping center, where Coco’s used to be.

UPDATE: Guess who was wrong about when the first Measure L money would arrive at the city? Him! (Finger pointing). Truth is, the first batch of tax cash won’t be received until this June (not April 1), according to city officials. … The folks petitioning to change the way Lodi elects its mayor have until June 4 to collect and present 3,209 verifiable signatures to the city. Organizers have demanded a special election be held this November, which will cost the city as much as $360,000, according to Lodi City Clerk Jennifer Ferraiolo. The county registrar of voters must verify each signature after they are turned into the city, but it would be far cheaper to put the proposal on the 2020 General Election ballot, we’re told.

CENTENNIAL CLUB: Art Schimke will be turning 100 on April 19, writes Rod Baumbach. Art served and survived action in WWII, according to Rod. He retired from a career at General Mills in about 1985 and is a long time member of Grace Baptist Church in Woodbridge.


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

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