The Great Plates Delivered program that fed hundreds of Lodi seniors for more than a year has come to an end. But not completely. The Village Coffee Shop in conjunction with the Grace & Mercy Charitable Foundation intends to keep the program going. It will be strictly donor-funded, according to Village owner Julie Jette. She says there are still many seniors who are homebound and unable to cook for themselves.

Julie says people can sign up for the meal delivery at either location of the Village Coffee Shop. The Great Plates program started over a year ago when the COVID-19 lockdown began. The city has funded the program to the tune of over $10 million, most of which will be refunded by the federal and state government. As many as five local restaurants participated, cooking and delivering meals to about 450 seniors every day.

100 CANDLES: Doris Owen of Lodi celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday, July 12. She was joined by friends at the home where she has lived for nearly 50 years. Doris moved to Lodi in 1935 to attend the Seventh Day Adventist Academy, where she graduated in 1939. She married her late husband, Lloyd, in 1942. She is an original member of the English Oaks Seventh Day Adventist Church where she was baptized in 1938. Remarkably, she still drives herself to appointments and lives a full life, according to friends.

TRIAL UPDATE: The murder trial of Christopher Anthony Costello, the alleged planner and organizer in the shooting death of Lodi podiatrist Dr. Thomas Shock in 2018, is currently underway in Stockton. Two others are awaiting trial for the murder. One of them is Robert Elmo Lee, who is in his 80s. He is alleged to have hired Costello and two others to murder Shock, who Lee blamed for his wife’s death. The other defendant awaiting trial is Mallory Stewart. Raymond Austin Hassan Jacquett IV was tried and convicted in 2019 of being the getaway driver. He was sentenced to 15 years to life for the crime. Shock was killed when he answered the doorbell at his Rivergate home late in the evening on August 1, 2018. His widow Nancy has set up a Facebook page called “Justice for Dr. Thomas Shock” to keep friends updated on the trials, which were delayed last year because of the pandemic.

READER RESPONDS: The city’s recent letter to residents regarding the proposed access center for the homeless says it will be a “low barrier” shelter. A reader responds, “I don’t think the public truly understands that someone can show up at the shelter under the influence of meth or heroin and still get in. And low barrier means there are few rules imposed on the homeless who show up. But according to the flier, the city will frown on ‘open use of illegal substances.’ I guess they’ll just shoot up in the bathroom. Don’t get me wrong. I think the idea is a good one, but we need to put people in charge who will get the job done quickly and help the folks sleeping on benches downtown or living in tents along the railroad tracks.”

BUILDING BULLETIN: The Talavera subdivision on Cochran Road, just east of Lower Sac, is beginning to take shape. Streets and sidewalks are going in right now as the 27 residential lots are being prepared for construction. The new subdivision is where an athletic club once stood. It was razed after Twin Arbors Athletic Clubs closed the facility a few years ago. The 5.42-acre parcel was first developed as Sunwest Swim and Racquet Club in the early ‘70s. … The first house in the new Interlaken subdivision, adjacent to the Sunwest development behind Target, is under construction. The new residential neighborhood was developed by Lodi’s Dennis Bennett of Bennett Homes. It consists of 25 large homesites. Bennett says the homes will be a minimum of 2,200 square feet and maybe as large as 4,000. Some of the lots are up for resale with price tags in the $350,000 range.

MURDER, THEY WROTE: With the horrifying shooting death last week of a 15-year-old boy, focus has once again shifted to the increasing number of homicides in town. Last week’s incident was the fourth homicide in town this year. A 17-year-old juvenile has been arrested in the case. Karl Welsbacher writes, “I am becoming concerned about all the murders we have had recently in Lodi. When I first moved to Lodi 35 years ago, we only had about one murder a year. I feel very safe in Lodi, but I think our murder rate is becoming alarming,” he says. Lodi Police Chief Sierra Brucia responds, “Lodi has officers who go out every day dedicated to the mission of making our community as safe as possible. Our murder rate has fluctuated over the years and many factors go into our ability to ‘control’ it. Our Special Investigations Unit focuses on the most violent offenders in our community and makes an emphasis on recovering firearms through many different proactive approaches. We also address crime through education and community partnerships.” Brucia says his school resource officers lead a program focused on middle school kids that hopes to teach students skills necessary to “make good decisions and stay away from the dangers of drug use, gang involvement, etc.”

FLYING HIGH: Lodi Public Works Sr. Administrative Clerk Claudia Almer recently completed airman leadership school and was promptly promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in the Air Force Reserves, stationed at Travis Air Force Base. … Tragically, it’s become an all too familiar story lately. Lodi police officers were once again dispatched to a possible opioid overdose, this time at the Starbucks on Kettleman Lane. The subject, who was all but unconscious, received two shots of overdose-buster Narcan from LPD officers Lance Bubak and Gerardo Ramirez. It likely saved the person’s life. Again.

REMEMBRANCE: She was a quiet strength. She had class. She was his counter-balance. We note the recent passing of Amelia "Lu" Pinkerton. Lu was the widow of former city councilman James Pinkerton, Jr. They lived together on Turner Road in a house with pink shutters and a yard so well maintained you’d swear someone mowed the lawn with scissors and plucked weeds from flowerbeds with tweezers. Visitors to their home were required to remove their shoes before walking into the living room. Jim Pinkerton was bold and outspoken. Lu was the opposite, cool and calm, strong but smooth. She supported her husband’s political aspirations, which were considerable. He served five terms on the Lodi City Council, probably a record. He also ran unsuccessfully for county supervisor and state assembly. Lu supported each effort by walking precincts, among other chores. Jim was a WWII war hero, serving as a fighter pilot in the European theater. After the war he ran Pinkerton Foundry until it closed in 1986. He died in 1997 at age 73. Lu was a gracious hostess for the many elegant parties and social gatherings they held at their home. She will be remembered for her understated strength and commitment to family. She was 95.


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

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