Lodian Dave Ganas is one tough mudder. He’s inspirational, a never-quitter. He’s also a para-athlete, having lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident. But last November he and three other team members won the 2019 Spartan Para Elite World Championships in Laughlin, Nev. His team, “Straight Outta Legs,” took first place against nine other teams from all over the world with a finish of 1:14:20.

His remarkable story begins several years ago when he was coming home from work after finishing his graveyard shift as a robotics mechanic for Toyota. He was tooling down Highway 99 when a drunk driver going 100 mph slammed into the back of his bike, “shredding” his right leg above the ankle. Within days his leg was amputated. He now wears a prosthetic. That tragic event nearly sidelined him for life.

He spent two years at home dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), almost never venturing out of his house. Following that rough patch, Ganas was coaxed into competing in the AT&T Park Sprint in San Francisco. He reluctantly agreed. A different Dave Ganas crossed the finish line that day. With medal in hand and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, his whole outlook changed that day. He has been competing in Spartan races ever since.

“The 2019 Para Spartan World Championship challenged the rigor, the minds, and the hearts of 40 of the toughest para-athletes in the world,” according to an Internet account of the race. “Each team featured one wheelchair athlete and three other athletes, medically classified to Paralympic standards,” according to the website. Nowadays, Ganas lives to “spread positivity” and give others encouragement. He works out up to three times a day and is a regular at Pure Form Training (PFT), a program at Fitness Works gym in Lodi. “I don’t give up,” Dave says. Talk about true grit.

FED UP: Lodi resident Amanda Lee is ready to sue. She says she’s up to here with the “environmental impact of homeless encampments on the Mokelumne River” and she’s ready to do something about it. She writes, “We have documented the dumping of raw sewage, feminine products, chemicals, soaps, batteries, and literal tons of household garbage all along the Mokelumne River at Highway 99. Despite continuous communication with CalTrans and other county and state representatives, CalTrans remains unwilling/unable to abate the environmental crisis that is ongoing on the property.”

So she plans to order a new sanitary survey of the area and then sue the State of California in federal court, claiming it is in violation of the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Lee, whose house backs up to the river, has established a Gofundme.com page under the title of, “Save The Mokelumne River.” Her goal is to raise $6,000. Over $2,000 has been raised so far. “We have to be good stewards” of the river, she says.

While city officials concede that homeless encampments and their dumping “remain a potential threat to water quality,” they say Lodi’s drinking water is safe and that water is constantly “tested to confirm that these contaminants do not enter our water supply.” Lee says, “You can treat the drinking water, but you can’t treat the river.”

PROJECT START: Terry Clark says he is holding an invitation-only meeting this week with about 100 families who live within 500 feet of the Sunset Theater to unveil his plan for the old place. The Clarks bought the theater and adjacent bakery property last year with plans to turn it into an event center.

YUCK IN THE MUCK: Everyone seems to have an opinion about how to solve the homeless problem. But one veteran of the campsite cleanup wars, who’s a retired peace officer and now volunteers in this effort, believes reopening the state mental institutions is at least part of the solution. He writes, there is a “guy who sleeps in the gravel at Lodi and Beckman. He keeps declining the offer from the Veteran’s Administration outreach worker to go and stay in a room in Stockton. He’d rather lay there in the rain and heat and cold than have a nice clean room. And there is a guy who sits slumped over in his wheelchair on Sacramento Street every day. I was out with him today. He’s covered in his own bodily fluids and he’s completely covered in filth. (Lodi Police Community Liaison Officer) Schiele and the county outreach workers have offered to take him to a facility several times but he keeps saying no. Both of these guys would be in so much better shape if they could be ‘compelled’ to get the mental health treatment they need. I’ve cleaned up dozens of camps in the city over the past 2 1/2 years and I can tell you one thing: no one should live like that. Whether they’re there due to their poor decisions or life dumping on them, no member of a civilized society should live the way they do. I’ve seen some things. ...” We bet you have.

COACH: Looks like the Lodi High girls volleyball squad will be getting a new coach next year, and many players and parents aren’t happy about it. In fact, there’s an online petition posted to the change.org website with almost 800 signatures on it, asking that the school keep Coach Chuck in the game. According to the petition organizer, “The Lodi High volleyball girls had a great season with (the coach) and we want him back to coach in the upcoming season. Chuck loved all his players and supporters.” Chelsea Vongehr, Lodi Unified’s public information officer, responds, “We are aware of a petition being circulated online to bring back a Lodi High girls’ volleyball coach for next season. The District follows all proper protocol and legal requirements when filling athletic positions. We wish the team a successful, safe, and enjoyable season.”

POLICE BEAT: From the It Could Happen to Anybody Department: Lodi Police Capt. Sierra Brucia reports that within the past week or so “one of our officers was going home after their shift ended (off duty) and was struck by a DUI driver at the intersection of Elm and California streets. The officer is fine, just a little sore.” … Here’s how you can search online to see who’s in custody at the Lodi Police Department and San Joaquin County jail, if you’re in that that sort of news. For Lodi PD the web address is pdinfo.lodi.gov/p2c/jailinmates.aspx. For the sheriff it is: wic.sjgov.org/WhosInCustody/BookingLog/24.

HEARTS & HARMONY: Last month Lodi resident Nancy Hennefer was elected president of the Portsmen Barbershop Chorus —the first female in its 66-year history. The group was chartered and held their first meeting in 1954. Nancy has been singing with the chorus since 2010, even though women were not eligible to be full members. Although it is the Stockton chapter, members come from all over, including Lodi. And if you’d like a personal performance, you can hire them to present a “singing valentine” to your sweetheart for just $50, if ordered by this Saturday. Just call ‘em at 209-881-7464 to arrange.

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

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